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Andre Gunther Photography - Fine Art Travel Photography http://www.aguntherphotography.com en Galaxy Note 10.1 review - A tablet for creative people http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/samsung-galaxy-note-10.1.html <p><img src="http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f29/andre75/galaxy_note_10_zpsed15ee40.jpg" border="0" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1"/></p> <p><span class="inline left"><iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008DWG5HE&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe></span>I have been an iPhone user for many years. I have embraced the iPad wholeheartedly, since it was the best tablet the market offered. Both products have introduced me to the quality of Apple&rsquo;s products, which have displaced most of my laptops and PC&rsquo;s at home. I am typing this review on a Macbook Air.</p> <p>I have been a Wacom Tablet user as well. I got my Wacom before the iPad and I would not miss editing a picture without it. Holding a pen is more natural and gives me much better precision than working with a mouse.</p> <p>Ever since I held my first iPad in my hands, I have fantasized that a stylus would be the ideal accessory. It would allow for a level of creativity that a finger cannot achieve, especially if the stylus is pressure sensitive, like my Wacom tablet&rsquo;s pen.</p> <p>Right around the time I got my first iPad, I spoke to a couple of Apple engineers involved with the touch interface and we discussed touch technologies. At this time, there was a certain understandable pride among the engineers. The prevalent thought was that Apple had been the company who figured out how to do tablets right. A big part of doing it right, meant to eliminate the need for a stylus.</p> <p>Understandably, when I brought up the idea of wanting a stylus, the engineers ignored my pleas. Nobody would want this and touch was the way of the future. I was beginning to wonder if any of them ever had used a Wacom tablet before. A touch sensitive display that would also respond to a pressure sensitive stylus would certainly not be a step back. After all, it wouldn&rsquo;t NEED a stylus, but rather benefit from it.</p> <p>Every year Apple introduced a new iPad, I was secretly hoping to find support for a pressure sensitive stylus, but no such luck. Eventually, Samsung was the company that built the iPad I always longed for, the Galaxy Note 10.1.</p> <p>I bought one of these babies the day they hit the shelves at Best Buy and have spent quite a bit of time with it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>A tablet for creative people</h3> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/watercolor-pencil.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/watercolor-pencil_small.jpg" alt="Watercolor Pencil Drawing app"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Watercolor Pencil app (free in Samsung's appstore) supports a large variety of styles</td></tr> </table> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 does not have a display technology that rivals the iPad&rsquo;s retina display. In most day-to-day use, this does not matter, but in direct comparison the differences are visible. If you only use your tablet to watch HD (1080) movies, browse the web and read email, the iPad is perfect for you.</p> <p>Unfortunately for Samsung, this describes the majority of all tablet users today. Furthermore, not many people are even aware of the capabilities of the Galaxy Note 10.1. It withers at its showcase at my local Best Buy store, with no special mention of the stylus hidden inside the tablet. Most shoppers pass by and do not even notice what kind of revolution they just passed. Everyone knows about the iPad. Everyone has an opinion about he iPad. Tech savvy people know other products as well.</p> <p>Once people at my workplace noticed what I did with the tablet, they were fascinated and wanted to learn more. Clearly, Samsung&rsquo;s marketing is inferior.&nbsp;</p> <p>The stylus has a tiny tip, unlike the fat finger styli required for capacitive touch screens. This means you actually see what you draw; you can follow a thin line and have precise control. The stylus has a button on the side, that allows you to perform additional functions without having to go through menus and it has 1024 levels (10-bit) of pressure sensitivity. The benefits of pressure sensitivity are difficult to describe, you simply need to try it. Just imagine any kind of calligraphy, without being able to vary the thickness of your lines. Imagine how a painter varies his/her strokes by gently or forcefully using the brush.&nbsp;</p> <p>The tablet offers palm rejection, which means you can rest your hand comfortably on the surface, with the stylus in your hand. No other tablet offers that at this point, but the software needs to support this feature.&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung includes a free office package and Photoshop touch with their tablet, making it even more appealing. Between the fantastic S-Note application, Polaris Office, the Browser and Photoshop, most creative needs are indeed covered.</p> <p>I bought a pdf reader/editor with palm rejection. This allows me to make annotations on technical documents, highlight books, and add side-notes to whatever I read.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Blazingly fast, well thought out hardware</h3> <!--<div class="image"> <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking_small.jpg" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1 Multitasking"></a> <div>Multitasking on the Galaxy Note 10.1</div> </div>--> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/multitasking_small.jpg" alt="Galaxy Note 10.1 Multitasking"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Multitasking on the Galaxy Note 10.1 supports some applications in side-by-side mode and several mini apps (calculator shown) on top</td></tr> </table> <p></p> <p>The tablet features a quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, far outpacing any other tablet on the market. In the world of Tablet OS, 2GB is enormous. It means you can multitask and work with big files.</p> <p>This powerful hardware allowed Samsung to take multimedia to a new level for a tablet. The Note 10.1 can run some applications side by side, offering superior multitasking. This is great for research projects, as you can copy web content into a document without having to toggle back and fourth between two applications.&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, you can bring up some mini-apps, such as the calculator, on top of any other application. It will simply appear as a floating window, without affecting the main application. You can also quickly check your email without having to leave your main application. The video player also knows a detach mode, which lets you float a video on top of any other application.</p> <p>The tablet&rsquo;s front facing stereo speakers are perfect for video. The Note 10.1 furthermore features the usual headphone jack, power button and volume control buttons. It also has an infrared port, although I do not care much about the included universal remote control software.</p> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 features a micro-SD card slot that can accept up to 64GB of additional storage. With an optional adapter, you can even turn the tablet into a USB host and plug in a hard drive (FAT32), USB stick, memory card reader, mouse or game controller, making it the most versatile tablet currently on the market.</p> <h3>S-Note</h3> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-formula-recognition.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-formula-recognition_small.jpg" alt="S-Note Formula recognition"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>S-Note formula recognition</td></tr> </table> <p>I use this application every day. The S-Note application is easily the most useful app on this tablet.</p> <p>What looks like a simple scribbling app at first blush, turned out to be the most versatile and appealing application of the entire package.</p> <p>This application can turn written text into characters, via a sophisticated character recognition engine. It can straighten shapes and even recognize formulas.</p> <p>It brings up wolfram alpha (in a browser) on command to find additional information to your input. You can insert pictures and draw annotations on them.</p> <p>The drawing tools are fantastic, with different types of pens, brushes and pencils and you can even record what you draw, as you draw it.</p> <p>The recording also records your voice and crates a video of it all. Think about remote time-shifted teaching, where you explain changes to a document, or make changes to a white board.</p> <p>Synchronize several devices, and you can suddenly all draw on the same sketch. Now your white-board has become digital.</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/daughter_drawing.jpg"><img height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/daughter_drawing_small.jpg" alt="My Daughter's first Drawing on the Note"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>My 1 year old daughter loves this app too</td></tr> </table> <h3>Things to improve</h3> <ul> <li>I wish I could simply connect this tablet to my PC via USB and use it as a Wacom tablet. There is some interest in the hacker community, and I hope they make some progress tricking a computer into thinking this is simply a Wacom digitizer. Using a full-blown version of Photoshop with this kind of input is certainly attractive.</li> <li><del><b>This brings me to my biggest complaint with Photoshop Touch that comes with the tablet. It limits the picture size to 2048 pixels in the largest dimension, rendering it unusable for professional photo work.</del><font color="FF0000">DONE! - The latest version of PS Touch (free in the Samsung Appstore for Galaxy Note 10.1 users) supports up to 12MP (4000x3000) files.!!!! </font></b><br> It supports layers, an amazing amount of effects and tools and even can save files in PSD format, yet all of these features are useless if you need to work with high-resolution pictures. The tablet&rsquo;s hardware would easily support more, and I would be willing to pay for such an upgrade. <font color="FF0000">(got it free),</font>.<del> It is sufficient for pictures you ONLY want to email, or publish online, but if I would even remotely consider a professional use of those pictures, I would have to use Photoshop on my computer to avoid duplicate work.</del></li> <li>By default, the pressure sensitivity in Photoshop is turned off. Here is how to turn it on: <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-pressure-sensitive.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-pressure-sensitive_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop Pressure sensitivity setting"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Photoshop setting pressure sensitivity</td></tr> </table> </li> <li>Only S-Note can read S-Note files. You can export PDF and JPG files, but the application downsamples the images too much, losing some information in the progress. It won&rsquo;t be a big deal, if you are aware of this and plan your documents accordingly. Secondly, the S-Note app has one standard size document that you cannot change. <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-sample.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote-sample_small.jpg" alt="S-Note Sample"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Snote Sample and <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/snote_export.pdf">PDF exported from S-Note</a>. Click the image file for a larger view and compare the quality to the pdf</td></tr> </table> </li> <li>The tablet has a plastic feel. I normally use all my tablets in a case, so it does not matter to me, but some people don&rsquo;t like the cheaper plastic feel of thois tablet.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Conclusion</h3> <p>The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a very appealing package. Its features are unique and it is currently the most powerful tablet on the market.</p> <p>Its most striking features are the pressure sensitive pen (s-pen) and the improved multitasking capabilities, allowing the side-by-side use of some applications.</p> <p>Some applications that make use of the pen already exist in Samsung&rsquo;s store and in the Google play store. I am looking forward to more.</p> <p>The Note 10.1 is easily the most appealing tablet for creative people. People who see what I can do with this little tablet are stunned, giving me hope styli will become vogue again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Support this website, buy here:</h4> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008DWG5HE/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B008DWG5HE&linkCode=as2&tag=andreguntherp-20">Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=andreguntherp-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B008DWG5HE" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /><br> <p></p> <p> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008DWG5HE&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008M4K5MY&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B005TUQV0E&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> <iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B008L2WS8Q&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> </p> <h3>More screenshots</h3> <p>Click on any image above or below to open a larger version.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-adjustments.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-adjustments_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop some adjustments"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Some Photoshop adjustments. I was positively surprised to find curves here, among a large variety of tools. On the right you can see that I am working with layers.</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-effects.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/photoshop-some-effects_small.jpg" alt="Photoshop some adjustments"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Filters galore (showing just one tab)</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/crayon-physics.png"><img width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/crayon-physics_small.jpg" alt="Crayon Physics"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>Crayon physics: A fun little game included with the device. Draw objects to move the ball to its destination.</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table frame="box" cellpadding="5" bgcolor=#CCCCCC> <tr><td><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/ezPDF.png"><img height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/galaxy-note-10/ezPDF_small.jpg" alt="ezPDF annotations"></a></td></tr> <tr><td>ezPDF: Bought this app to draw annotations and highlights on pdf. Even supports the palm rejection</td></tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/samsung-galaxy-note-10.1.html#comments Gadgets Hardware Reviews Software Thu, 04 Oct 2012 02:58:38 -0400 andre 3275 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com California Photo Scout for iPhone http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/california-photo-scout-for-iphone.html <p><img height="504" width="420" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/cpsp.jpg" alt="California Photo Scout for iPhone" /></p> <p>Recently I released an iPhone application for fellow photographers who visit the Golden State of California.</p> <p>I have spent 10 years photographing California and I am making this knowledge available to you in an inexpensive iPhone application. The convenient on-the-go travel guides contain everything you need to know to succeed on your travel photography adventure. You can carry the large database of locations in your pocket and you do not even need internet access to read any of the articles.</p> <p>The offline capability makes this companion especially useful when you travel the back roads, have a limited data volume or travel California from abroad. It even works well on your iPod. You just do not depend on data coverage, yet you have the full interactive database readily available.</p> <p>Tap your way through each location and get photography tips and insider information that can make your photographs stand out. Each article comes with GPS coordinates that make it easy to find your way. Discover nearby locations to maximize your time and get the most out of your trips.</p> <p>I am continuously extending the location database. Each application update adds new locations to the already extensive database and is completely free. The application is much cheaper than any travel book of California, despite the great depth of information contained within. I will increase this price with the next major release. Get your copy now, before the price goes up.</p> <p><a target="itunes_store" rel="nofollow" href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/california-photo-scout-premium/id405853324?mt=8&amp;uo=4"><img style="border: 0pt none;" alt="California Photo Scout Premium - Andre Gunther" src="http://ax.phobos.apple.com.edgesuite.net/images/web/linkmaker/badge_appstore-lrg.gif" /></a></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://myphotoscout.com/cpsp.html">California Photo Scout Application Website</a></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/california-photo-scout-for-iphone.html#comments Adventure photography Reviews Travel Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:20:59 -0500 andre 3274 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Now is the Best Time for Photography http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/now-is-the-best-time-for-photography.html <p><a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/travel.html">Travel</a> photography defies common travel wisdom.</p> <p><img alt="Venice Beach" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/travel/venice-beach.jpg" /></p> <p>When most travelers settle down for their dinner, I often try to capture the best light of the day. When other travelers dread the colder weather and declare that it is best to stay home or shop for the holidays, I feel a strong draw to go out and take photographs. Suddenly, my summer slumber is over and I can hardly sit still for a weekend.</p> <p>The onset of winter brings an excitement to pictures that is impossible to capture during the &quot;boring&quot; summer months. Photography between fall and spring is pure excitement. The clouds are back in Southern California, creating the most spectacular sunsets (see above). During the last couple of weeks, I have seen dolphins underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, spotted migrating whales from the shores of Montana de Oro, and seen playful flocks of seals circling the Avila Pier. It is almost as if the animals know my secret and just waited for the crowds to disappear back into their comfortable and warm homes and overcrowded malls.</p> <p><img alt="Egret" width="600" height="399" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/travel/egret.jpg" /></p> <p>Unfortunately, there are still some strange blokes out there. Shortly after I took the photograph of this egret snatching himself a lunch-lizard, a man walked up to me, pulled out his point and shoot camera, took a photograph of the egret, and then shooed it away. However, the reduced amount of travelers during the off-season makes such occurrences rare and tolerable. I assume the lizard would not have minded an earlier rescue and would disagree with me.</p> <p><img alt="Seals" width="600" height="281" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/travel/seals.jpg" /></p> <p>During the course of a single day, we also saw several whales blowing in the distance, the seals that you can see above, and a few fishing pelicans (see below). Here you can see one taking a dive from a high altitude to catch fish below the water's surface. The pelicans are amazing fishers with a grace that you would not expect from the sometimes clumsy-looking birds.</p> <p><img alt="Pelican" width="463" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/travel/pelican.jpg" /></p> <p>We did get several storm systems coming through this area during the last view days. As a friend told me how this would spoil his plans, my thoughts drifted to the incredible opportunities and the fantastic light you can catch with a coming and going storm. Low cloud coverage with a sliver of open sky in the distance to let the sun come through is the perfect condition for dramatic sunsets and I got lucky twice within a few weeks. The first photograph at the start of this article is from Venice Beach. You can see the lifeguard towers in the foreground and the most amazing sunset. Somehow, the sunsets in Southern California are more vivid than anywhere else in the world.</p> <p>The second chance was this sunset at McWay Falls. The falls are located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and plunge onto a secluded beach in a tranquil cove. Fortunately, we stuck around long enough to see the sunset that lit the last remaining clouds of this day's storm.</p> <p><img alt="Waterfall" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/travel/waterfall.jpg" /></p> <p>Do not let a few raindrops or a drop in temperature &quot;drop&quot; your excitement for the outdoors. There is no better time than the coming months for photography in the Golden State of California. Go out and see this magical place. Still not sure where to go? Then try my new iPhone application. It will guide you to the most photogenic locations in California. It is now available on iTunes:</p> <p><a href="http://myphotoscout.com/cpsp.html">California Photo Scout for iPhone</a></p> <p><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/california-photo-scout-premium/id405853324?mt=8&uo=4" target="itunes_store"><img src="http://ax.phobos.apple.com.edgesuite.net/images/web/linkmaker/badge_appstore-lrg.gif" alt="California Photo Scout Premium - Andre Gunther" style="border: 0;"/></p> <p></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/now-is-the-best-time-for-photography.html#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 19:18:32 -0500 andre 3273 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Framing your masterpieces http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/framing-your-masterpieces.html <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/framed-pictures.jpg" alt="Framed Pictures" /></p> <p>Selling pictures without frames keeps my costs low and lets me sell my work at very competitive prices. It also gives my customers the choice to shop around for good deals on frames or build their own custom frames. That is the official story. In reality, I dislike the framing work.</p> <p>I used to go to my local art store for custom jobs or to get ready-made frames. Their selection of existing frames is often not satisfying and custom jobs can become very pricy. Building your own frame is a viable alternative, but I prefer to spend as little time as possible on the framing job and more of my precious little time outdoors, taking photos.</p> <p>As much as I hate framing pictures, I love anyone who makes it easy for me to get the job done quickly. Therefore, I was very excited when I found this <a href="http://www.pictureframeguys.com/" target="_blank">picture frame</a> store. They offer an astounding variety of frames in all shapes, colors and sizes and somehow still keep their products very affordable.</p> <!--break--> <p>After a chat with one of their reps, I decided to try out two of their wooden frames for a remodeling job I had planned. I hope this review will help those of you in need for quick turn frames, as I was.</p> <p>I picked two pictures of Long Beach, since they represent a special moment in our lives and two frames that should work well with the beach theme of the room.</p> <h2>Two Frames in a box</h2> <p>The frames I ordered arrived quickly and in good shape.</p> <p><img height="450" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/package-contents.jpg" alt="Package Contents" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I pulled the two frames from the box and inspected them.</p> <p>Each frame came with a board for the backside, a white matte, plastic glass, pins, hooks, and cables for hanging. I often use pictures without mattes and order the frames to fit the size of the picture exactly. If you like matting, make sure you order the right kind with your frames and learn how to cut them!</p> <p>The pins confused me at first. I decided to visit the <a href="http://www.pictureframeguys.com/" target="_blank">Picture Frame Guys Website</a>, to see if they do have framing instructions. I only found tips and tricks and some basic information, but not a quick step-by-step guide. It seems trivial, but I believe many people might benefit from this information. I hope that I can get them to update their site.</p> <h2>Putting everything together</h2> <p><img height="450" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/pins.jpg" alt="Pins" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Here is one of the pins used to keep the picture and rear board inside the frame. I simply pushed them into the wood with a screwdriver, which was very easy and took me only a few seconds per frame.</p> <p><img height="234" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/hangers.jpg" alt="Hangers" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I fastened the hooks at the sides of each frame and cut the cables with a wire cutter. I suppose you could just use one of the hooks at the center top in lieu of the hangers, but they would be visible, unless you hang the picture above eye level. I convinced myself to do it right, after all it took only 2 minutes.</p> <h2>Inspection and Credits</h2> <p><img height="600" width="425" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/on-the-wall.jpg" alt="Hanging on the Wall" />&nbsp;</p> <p>After I spent less than 5 minutes on the frame, I was ready to hang it on my wall. Not a bad time for a first time framer who used to let others do the work.</p> <p>I have to admit that the two ladies of the house helped me with that project and deserve some credit too. Nagging, purring, giving opinions, and holding tools comes at a great physical expense, which is why we decided to take a collective rest after the hard labor.</p> <p><img height="600" width="390" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/helper-cat.jpg" alt="Tina resting" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Then we spent some time inspecting the frames up close and decided that we liked the ease of the process and that we would shop here again.</p> <p><img height="332" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/frames/frame-closeup.jpg" alt="Frame Closeup" />&nbsp;</p> <p>The frames look outstanding on my wall, much better than my product shots make them look. I cannot wait to complete the remodeling to see how everything comes together.&nbsp;</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/framing-your-masterpieces.html#comments Printing Reviews Workflow Wed, 22 Sep 2010 18:00:39 -0400 andre 3272 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com On Location: Chaco Culture National Historic Park http://www.aguntherphotography.com/on-location/chaco-culture-nhp.html <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/chaco-bandelier-nm.html"><img alt="Chaco CultureNational Historic Park" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/images/chaco-pueblo-bonito.jpg" /></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/chaco-bandelier-nm.html">Chaco Canyon</a> is the best-preserved site of early settlement in the United States. Located in New Mexico, miles from paved roads and service stations, the most exiting historic park does not receive the same amount of visitors as other parks. Unlike other spectacular locations like <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/canyon-de-chelly/index.html">Canyon de Chelly</a> or <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/mesa_verde/index.html">Mesa Verde</a>, you can freely explore Chaco and even enter most of the sites. This makes Chaco Canyon much more desirable for photography.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eventually the park service will develop the road to Chaco and limit access to the ruins as more and more tourists will start visiting the park. Currently you can still have many places of the park to yourself. You do not have to wait a long time for a clear undisturbed view of the ruins, thanks to the relatively small amount of visitors compared to other places.&nbsp;</p> <!--break--> <p><img alt="Chaco light ray" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/images/light-ray.jpg" /></p> <p>The buildings are still in a good state. Many of the ancient walls tower several stories high, showing the impressive skills of the pueblo Indians that lived here many years ago. Chaco was a major cultural and commercial center, a capital city of the ancient civilization. It was located in the heart of the Anasazi Empire, connecting many other nearby sights.</p> <p>Chaco reminded me even of the Andean wonder-city of <a href="http://www.opentravelinfo.com/travel_guide/south_america/peru/andean/machu_picchu_peru_inca_city_in_the_sky">Machu Picchu (Peru)</a>, probably the most famous of all historic places.&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to Chaco has been a long dream of mine that I fulfilled in 2008, after having to bypass the park due to very bad weather in 2007. Access in winter can be difficult, since the roads are not cleared. Even less people visit in winter and the angle of the sun is lower, making winter my favorite time to visit the National Parks of the west.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/usa_west/chaco-bandelier-nm.html">Chaco Culture National Historic Park</a>&nbsp;is an unforgettable experience. I would love to come back before too much changes.</p> <p><img alt="Chaco Door" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/images/chaco-door-light.jpg" /></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/on-location/chaco-culture-nhp.html#comments On Location photography Travel Sun, 08 Aug 2010 17:22:28 -0400 andre 3271 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com HDR Expose - Evolution of Perfection http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-expose-unified-color.html <p><img alt="HDR Exposre Result 1" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/hdr-expose-1.jpg" /></p> <p>When Unified Color released HDR PhotoStudio in 2009, I was stunned with the color accuracy and the natural look of the processed images. With their new release of HDR Expose, the successor to HDR PhotoStudio, Unified Color released further refined software that has more advanced processing options, is easier to use, and produces better results than the already stunning HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>The interface of HDR Expose has evolved, too. All the controls are on the right side with a brightness histogram in the top right corner and the image controls below it. I love how the software keeps a stack of your previous processing steps, allowing you to go back and make changes to previously applied steps, without losing the changes you made later.</p> <p>Instead of a review that is counting down features, I chose to demonstrate the processing steps. This should give you a good idea on the ease of use and some of the capabilities of HDR expose. Click the images for a larger view.</p> <!--break--> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/00_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Start Window" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/00.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you open HDR Expose, you can merge several differently exposed images into a single High Dynamic Range Image. Here I chose the first option, to merge five exposures I took at Dante&rsquo;s View in Death Valley. I chose this image because it represents one of the most difficult images to adjust. It includes the sun itself and mountains that are backlit. Extracting detail and preserving a natural look will challenge any HDR software.</p> <p>You can also batch merge images and even batch process images using recipes. A recipe allows you to bake your secret processing sauce into a recipe that you can then apply to a large number of images.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/01_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose image loaded" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/01.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>The created file does not look very compelling, yet. It basically represents the middle exposure of the set. A glance at the brightness histogram reveals that the image contains information outside the visible spectrum (dark underlain area).</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/02_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Brightness and Contrast" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/02.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the histogram was skewed to the right, I turned down the brightness level. To squeeze more of the curve into the visible spectrum, we have to reduce the global contrast (contrast power slider). Keeping the &ldquo;keep local contrast&rdquo; checkbox selected, the overall contrast appears to stay constant, as the software increases the local contrast power proportional to the decrease in global contrast power. I chose to deselect the box and boost the local contrast even more, since the picture could use it. Do not overdo the contrast settings! The settings I show are very extreme in accordance with the difficult subject of the image.</p> <p>One of the most outstanding features of HDR Expose is their superior halo reduction. During the HDR process, the software works hard to keep the contrast the same, while squeezing the entire dynamic range into the visible range. The required local contrast enhancement causes nasty halo effects with any HDR software. This is especially visible if you have edges between bright backgrounds (sky) and darker foregrounds (tree, rocks).</p> <p>HDR Expose can suppress these halos, but the process is very compute intensive. I recommend to tweak these settings as your final step as part of a recipe. When I selected the highest setting (Ultimate) on an image, my (older) Quad Core computer slowed down with 100% CPU usage.</p> <p><img alt="Ultimate Halo Reduction" width="600" height="483" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/ultimate-halo-reduction-small.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I think this setting should come with a warning or get a separate dial to prevent users from accidentally triggering it. Further, it would be nice if I could send HDR Expose into the background with idle priority, while it chews threw these computations.</p> <p>In fact, this was the only annoyance I found with the software, combined with the fact that I cannot minimize the GUI while it computes. I used a keystroke to bring up the Windows taskbar and work on other things in the meantime.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/03_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Shadow Highlight" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/03.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the next step (Shadow / Highlight), I mostly reduced the highlight power, to bring even more of the sun and the backlit clouds into the visible range. I also tweaked the local contrast (LC) setting to improve the overall appearance. The results are subtle in these pictures, since I already used a strong global contrast reduction. With these settings, you can fine tune your image and reduce the shadow or highlight power individually.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/04_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Sharpness" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/04.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Next I tuned the sharpness of my image. Since I started from pre-processed TIF files, I had already adjusted the sharpness. Ideally, you want as little interference as possible and would use RAW files for processing, in which case the sharpness slider becomes very important to counter the effects of the conversion.</p> <p>Notice how each of the processing steps adds another tab to the bottom of your list. You can always go back to previous steps and tweak them, which is a cool feature of this software.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/05_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Saturation and Hue" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/05.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In this step, I boosted the saturation a bit and increased the warmer tones in accordance with a sunset. These edits are purely subjective.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/06_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Veiling Glare" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/06.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most amazing features of HDR Expose is the veiling glare tool. Notice how the picture above seems to have a less hazy look than the picture above it. Click on each of the images to see a larger version!</p> <p>Veiling glare is the &ldquo;tendency of bright objects in the scene to reduce the contrast everywhere within the field of view&rdquo;. &ndash; Citation from <a target="_blank" href="http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/glare_removal/glare_removal.pdf">this paper</a>.</p> <p>Scattering light inside the camera causes this. It is most notable on the mountains in front of the sun, which appear murky and hazy. The veiling glare tool lets you remove this murkiness.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/07_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose Noise Reduction" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/07.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, I did some minor noise tweaks.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/08_large.jpg"><img alt="HDR Expose TIF properties" width="600" height="375" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/08.jpg" /></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then I saved the file in the BEF HDR format, so that I can tweak my image further should I decide to do so.</p> <p>I exported a TIF file for further processing. I prefer to use 16-bit TIF in Photoshop. Oddly, you have to set the specifics for the file format in the preferences dialog and not during the actual save operation.</p> <p>HDR Expose contains a variety of other tools for reducing noise, cropping, resizing, and rotating. Those are very useful if you process RAW files directly with HDR Expose, since you should always perform each operation as early in the pixel pipe as you can to avoid artifacts. Since I ran TIF files through HDR Expose in this test, I did not have to use these tools.</p> <p><img alt="Dante's View Final Image" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/hdr/dantes-view.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I removed some of the lens flare with Photoshop in the final image above. I prefer to use my own noise reduction techniques and did not use the tool in HDR Expose. I also made a small adjustment on local contrast. Despite the cleanup, the image resembles the output of HDR Expose very closely.</p> <h2>Conclusion and Discount Link</h2> <p>Unified Color remain a major driving force in the HDR image-processing arena. Their new product is a significant step up from the already superb HDR PhotoStudio.</p> <p>Use this link to get <b>20% off</b> the purchase price:</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://unifiedcolor.com/buy_products?promo=AGUNTHER">Get HDR Expose</a></p> <p>You get a free 30-day trial, so there is no downside to trying this out yourself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Disclosure: The link tracks sales originating from my website. You get a 20% discount when you use the link, while I get a smaller portion of the profits from the sale which helps me to offset my cost and finance the coffee I require while staying up late to write for you. This did not influence my review. I encourage you to try the product before buying it.</i></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/hdr-expose-unified-color.html#comments Reviews Software Workflow Mon, 26 Jul 2010 23:57:05 -0400 andre 3253 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Painting with Light - Understanding Light http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/better-photo/painting-with-light.html <p><img width="600" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/mobius-arch-600.jpg" alt="Mobius Arch, Light Study" />c</p> <p>I photographed this series of Mobius Arch during my recent trips to the Alabama Hills. All six images show the same subject, with four images taken from nearly identical points of view. Yet all images look profoundly different from one another, simply by the different properties of the light.</p> <p>The first row shows two images that I took during sunset. The last row shows two images I took during sunrise. The quality of light changes very quickly during this time. A few hours before sunset and a few hours after sunrise, the landscape looks flat, washed out, and the high contrast between shadows and sunlit regions gives your images an entirely different quality.</p> <p>I painted the two images in the center row with a <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/blog/painting-with-light.html">powerful flashlight</a>.</p> <!--break--> <h2>Painting with Light</h2> <p>The light painting technique is rather involved. You need to set up your camera for long exposures. Painting the stones and waiting between each result takes a long time, especially if you do not get everything right with the first couple of shots.</p> <p>Fortunately, I got lucky with these images.</p> <p>The beauty of this technique is the amount of control you have over the lighting of your subject. You simply highlight whatever you want and let the rest vanish into darkness. It is an easy process:</p> <ul> <li>Find a good subject during the day, something not too far away that you can highlight with a powerful flashlight from your position.</li> <li>Come back at dusk, and set up your tripod. Take a couple of sample shots to help you evaluate different compositions.</li> <li>When the first stars become visible, meter the sky. Set your camera to aperture priority mode to guarantee sufficient <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/depth-of-field-hyperfocal-distance.html">depth of field</a>.</li> <li>Make a mental note of your exposure time. It should be around 20s or longer. If it is too short, pick a smaller aperture. If it is longer than 30s, you need to select bulb and time the exposure yourself. This is how much time you will have to paint your subject.</li> <li>Turn on the mirror lockup on your camera.</li> <li>Take a photo and sweep your light source across your main subject. You have exactly as much time as you determined above.</li> <li>Review your picture and decide if you need to increase or decrease exposure time, keep the light source on the subject longer, or paint a different area of the image for a better effect.</li> <li>Try painting the subject from a different angle. As you can see in the picture above, I was able to achieve a completely different effect when I painted the subject from behind. Dani was kind enough to operate the shutter of my camera, while I was behind the arch.</li> </ul> <p>Lighting a subject from behind creates an aura around it. I used the same technique for this Cholla tree in <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/california/deserts/joshua-tree-others.html">Joshua Tree NP</a>.</p> <p><img width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/images/1961_large.jpg" alt="Cholla Tree" />&nbsp;</p> <h2>Natural light</h2> <p>The quality of light brings a subject to life. Observe the light whenever you are out in the field. Try to imagine where the sun will move or use <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/predict-moon-for-photography.html">software to predict the movement of the sun and the moon</a>. Consider how the light will change during the day. Sometimes it is worth waiting for better light, for clouds to clear, or the sun to set.</p> <p>Sometimes the only thing setting a professional image apart from a snapshot is the light. Unless you run around with a flashlight, you need patience and tenacity. The universe rarely lines up for you, but you can usually outwait it.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/better-photo/painting-with-light.html#comments On Location photography Travel Mon, 07 Jun 2010 00:34:28 -0400 andre 3252 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Blurry Pictures - Part 2: Motion Blur http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/motion-blur.html <p><b>Learn about Motion Blur and how you can use this knowledge for better shots.</b></p> <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/sharp-motion.jpg" alt="Sharp Motion" />&nbsp;</p> <p>In my previous article, we investigated <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/avoid-blurry-images-camera-shake.html">Camera Shake</a>. Camera shake is always unintentional. It can destroy a good image, but it is easy to avoid.</p> <p>In this second installment on causes of blurry images, we will investigate motion blur, its causes, and its potential usefulness.</p> <!--break--> <h2>Causes and remedies of motion blur</h2> <p>In the previous article, we learned to adjust exposure time to keep the subject fixed, but what happens if the subject itself moves?</p> <p>Movement causes motion blur. The camera lens projects an image of our subject onto the sensor or film. We need to ensure that the projected image remains in a fixed position on the sensor. If we wish to keep the subject sharp, we need to adjust exposure time to account for the subject's movement. The closer the subject is, the shorter the exposure time needs to be.</p> <p>The direction of your subject is also important. A car moving sideways needs a much shorter exposure time to look sharp than a car moving toward or away from you.</p> <p>Imagine a car on a long road in a great distance speeding toward you. Until the car gets closer, you have a very hard time judging its speed. Its size grows very slowly. A car speeding past you on the other hand, may only be visible for a fraction of a second.</p> <p>The table below contains exposure time guidelines that will help you to avoid motion blur.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>&nbsp;<img height="200" width="200" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/subject.jpg" alt="Subject" /></p> <p>Subject</p> </td> <td> <p><img height="200" width="200" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/toward-away.png" alt="Toward or Away" /><br /> Moving towards you</p> </td> <td> <p><img height="200" width="200" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/perpendicular.png" alt="Perpendicular" /><br /> Moving perpendicular</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Slow &gt;10m away (row boat, walking)</p> </td> <td> <p>1/60</p> </td> <td> <p>1/125</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Slow &lt;10m away</p> </td> <td> <p>1/125</p> </td> <td> <p>1/250</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Medium &gt; 10m away (runner, children playing, slow bike, parade, sail boat, motor boat)</p> </td> <td> <p>1/125</p> </td> <td> <p>1/500-1/250</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Medium &lt; 10m away (sports &ndash; baseball, basketball, football, soccer, hockey &hellip;, dogs, rider)</p> </td> <td> <p>1/250</p> </td> <td> <p>1/500</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Fast &gt; 10m away&nbsp; (runner, kite, surfer, biker, car, running horses, other running animals)</p> </td> <td> <p>1/500</p> </td> <td> <p>1/1000</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Very Fast &gt; 10m away (air show, race car, bobsled, downhill skier)</p> </td> <td> <p>1/1000</p> </td> <td> <p>1/2000-1/1000</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Super Fast (propeller, car wheel)</p> </td> <td> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td> <p>1/8000-1/4000</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I copied the table from a previous article I wrote on <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/the-correct-exposure-part-2-motion-shutter-speed.html">Motion and Shutter Speeds</a>, which explains the subject of avoiding motion blur in more depth and how you may be able to obtain those fast speeds in the first place.</p> <h2>How motion blur looks like</h2> <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/motion-blur.jpg" alt="Motion Blur" /></p> <p>Motion blur looks very different from camera shake. Assuming that we do not have an additional <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/avoid-blurry-images-camera-shake.html">camera shake problem</a>, it is easy to detect.</p> <p>Motion blur will only affect subjects that move relative to our point of view. In the picture above, the two Segway riders moved relative to my camera view that remained fixed on Alcatraz in the background. The exposure time was too short, which is why the two riders look blurry.</p> <p>A second characteristic of motion blur is that the blurriness has a direction. The lateral motion of the riders caused horizontal lines to remain relatively sharp, while vertical lines appear smeared. Look at the wrinkles in the jeans of one of the riders or the eyes of the second rider.</p> <h2>Using motion blur to emphasize speed</h2> <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/marlboro.jpg" alt="Marlboro Car" /></p> <p>You can use motion blur to enhance your images by emphasizing movement.</p> <p>If you move your camera, tracking the moving subject, you can keep the subject sharp while blurring the background. This will improve the sense of speed of the subject, which can make a picture look very dynamic. Please see my article on <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/the-correct-exposure-part-2-motion-shutter-speed.html">Motion and Shutter Speeds</a> to learn more about this.</p> <p>Relative to my camera point of view, the car remains fixed and the landscape around it moves. The motion blur is clearly directional as you can see from the elongated shapes of the foreground and background. This is very different from the out of focus background of the image at the beginning of this article, a desirable effect of the limited depth of field, which will be the subject of another article in this series.</p> <p>Come back to learn more about the different causes of blurry pictures or simply <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/agunther">subscribe to my feed</a> and get articles delivered, free.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/motion-blur.html#comments Thu, 20 May 2010 14:27:00 -0400 andre 3251 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com Help, my pictures are blurry - Part 1: Camera Shake http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/avoid-blurry-images-camera-shake.html <p><b>Learn how to take tack sharp photos!</b></p> <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/sharp1.jpg" alt="Sharp Shot" />&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most common questions I receive in the comments and via email concerns sharpness. Readers are not satisfied with the quality of their pictures and seek advice. It is not surprising, considering that blurry photographs are nearly impossible to salvage and can ruin an otherwise exceptional shot.</p> <p>In this article series, we will investigate the most common causes of blurred pictures:</p> <ul> <li><b><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/avoid-blurry-images-camera-shake.html#shake">Camera Shake</a></b>: Caused by long exposure times. Image stabilization can only do so much; learn what you can do to avoid it.</li> <li><a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/motion-blur.html"><b>Motion Blur</b></a>: Fast moving subjects can cause blur. Learn what to do about it.</li> <li><b>Wrong Focus</b>: What are the focus techniques that will give you sharp pictures?</li> <li><b><a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/depth-of-field-hyperfocal-distance.html">Depth of Field</a></b>: What you need to know about it to get sharp shots.</li> <li><b>Wide-angle Lens Focus</b>: Some points you should know if you decide to go wide.</li> <li><b>Telephoto Lens Focus</b>: And the other way around.</li> <li><b>Camera Issues</b>: Many blame their tools for poor artistry. Sometimes the gear really is to blame; find out how to test your camera.</li> </ul> <!--break--> <h2><a name="shake">Camera Shake</a></h2> <p>This problem alone keeps Manfrotto in the business of providing <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/tripods.html">world-class tripods</a>.</p> <p>Factors like available light, aperture (size of lens opening), and sensor sensitivity (ISO) determine the time you need to expose your sensor to light. During that time, the picture the camera sees must not change. Therefore, the camera cannot move.</p> <p>If the exposure time is short, all things are well. Our involuntary hand movements are slow by comparison. If the exposure time is longer, we cannot hold the camera steady long enough anymore.</p> <p>Image stabilization promises to remedy the situation, but it also gives a false sense of security. Just like the electronic stability systems of your car ultimately succumb to physics, the image stabilization of your lens or camera can only extend the useful range. You still need to understand how to deal with camera shake.</p> <h3>When do you need to worry about camera shake?</h3> <p>Unfortunately, this depends on the <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/focal-length-visual-space-crop-factor-zoom-prime.html">focal length</a> of your lens. When you hold very strong binoculars to your eyes, the picture looks very shaky. The large optical magnification amplifies the small movement of your hands.</p> <p>By contrast, looking through a magnifying glass does not have the same affect.</p> <p>The longer the lens focal length (binoculars), the shorter your exposure time needs to be to make the shaking invisible to your camera. When the picture the sensor sees moves less than one pixel in distance, the movement is invisible.</p> <h3>Avoid camera shake without using math:</h3> <p><img height="300" width="218" align="right" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/einstein.jpg" alt="Einstein" />If you dislike math, you can use this method to determine if you need a tripod:</p> <ul> <li>Set your camera to <b>Auto ISO</b>.</li> <li>Check your camera manual for the <b>Auto ISO range</b>. Usually, the maximum ISO level for Auto is not the maximum level the camera is capable of utilizing. The Canon <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-450d-rebel-xsi-field-guide.html">Rebel 450D</a>, for example, can go to ISO 800 in auto mode.</li> <li>Shoot in automatic mode or aperture priority mode and always check the ISO setting in your viewfinder.</li> <li>If the camera ever hits the maximum, vary the aperture (smaller f-number) until the ISO drops down. If it does not, you probably need a tripod.</li> </ul> <h3>Avoid camera shake using math:</h3> <p>Math can do a better job predicting camera shake. Skip over this section if it overwhelms you!</p> <p>For 35mm film cameras, the rule was that exposure time should be shorter than 1/(focal length). If you had your lens set to 100mm, an exposure of 1/125s would allow you to shoot handheld.</p> <p>Many digital SLRs have sensors that are smaller than the 35mm film used to be. The reduction in size translates into an &quot;equivalent focal length&quot; that is different from the markings on your camera. You can look up the <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/focal-length-visual-space-crop-factor-zoom-prime.html#crop_factor" rel="_blank">crop factor</a> (focal length multiplier) for your camera and calculate the equivalent focal length as:</p> <p>Equivalent focal length = crop factor * focal length</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-450d-rebel-xsi-field-guide.html">Canon Rebel</a> series, xxD series, and <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/reviews/canon-eos-7d-field-guide.html">Canon 7D</a> cameras all have a crop factor of 1.6. This means, with the lens set to 100mm the equivalent focal length is 160mm and the exposure time should be 1/160s or shorter.</p> <h3>Image Stabilization</h3> <p><img height="194" width="500" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/image-stabilization.jpg" alt="Image Stabilization" /></p> <p>Image stabilization adds about 2 to 3 stops to your exposure time. For each stop, multiply the exposure time by 2.</p> <p>For the 100mm example above, we then get:</p> <p>1/125s * 2 * 2 ~ 1/30 s</p> <p>If you try to expose longer, you will get blur, despite the image stabilization. I found that no Canon Camera I have used factors image stabilization into the calculation when you set it to Auto ISO.</p> <h3>How camera shake looks like</h3> <p><img height="400" width="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/tutorial/sharpness/camera-shake.jpg" alt="Camera Shake" /></p> <p>When you have a blurry picture due to camera shake, all parts of the image will show the same blurriness. The foreground and the background have the same level of blurriness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Come back to read about <a href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/motion-blur.html">Motion Blur</a> in my next article of this series or <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/agunther">subscribe to my feed</a> to get it delivered to your reader for free.</p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/avoid-blurry-images-camera-shake.html#comments photography Tech Talk Wed, 12 May 2010 01:11:56 -0400 andre 3250 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com The Sigma 8mm Fisheye Lens http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/sigma-8mm-fisheye-lens-review.html <p><b>Fisheye, the widest lens choice, offers a tremendous creative potential. </b></p> <p><b>Find out what you can do and what you need to know about fisheye lenses.</b></p> <p><img alt="People through Fisheye Lens" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/people.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>I am addicted to wide-angle photography, its creative challenges and opportunities. Wide-angle lenses require rethinking your composition constantly. Eliminating clutter with a normal lens usually entails leaving it out of your frame, thus simplifying your composition. This is rarely possible with wide-angle lenses. Instead, you take advantage of their perspective, making distant objects very small. Eliminating clutter thus, requires moving around and changing your composition continually.&nbsp;</p> <p>I like this kind of photography. It forces me to reconsider all my compositions and puts me on a much steeper learning curve. I also love the resulting pictures, since they differ so much from the way we see the world with our own eyes.&nbsp;</p> <p>Telephoto lenses are creativity inhibitors. Photographers at sports events never move. They &ldquo;only&rdquo; have to frame and shoot. Everyone can get the same shot, even when they stand a few feet apart. Creativity then boils down to the right moment and the right subject.&nbsp;</p> <!--break--> <h2>Sigma 8mm</h2> <p><img alt="Sigma 8mm Fisheye Lens" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/sigma-8mm.jpg" />&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Looking for new ways to expand my creativity, I rented a Sigma 8mm lens and took it with me to San Francisco for the weekend. I rented my lens online from <a href="http://www.borrowlenses.com/?blpid=4b50b7aaa0241" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Borrow Lenses</a>. The easy and painless process convinced me to rent my lenses before buying any of them from now on.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Sigma 8mm EX DG Fisheye lens has a remarkable field of view that lets you capture very wide images. I took this set of pictures in my backyard, comparing the 8mm <a class="autolink-term" href="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/focal-length-visual-space-crop-factor-zoom-prime.html">focal length</a> of the spherical fisheye to my Tokina 12mm lens, my favorite wide-angle choice, and a few others.</p> <p><img alt="Fisheye Focal Length Comparison" width="600" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/fisheye-focal-length.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Comparing the Fisheye to the already super-wide Tokina lens, you can begin to understand how wide the Sigma lens really is.</p> <p>I was excited to find out how this lens would feel in the city and how I could use its space warping properties to my advantage.</p> <h2>Day One: First Steps</h2> <p>The lens dazzled me with its super wide angle, when I discovered the odd mechanism of the lens cap. Removing the cap like you would on any other lens, still leaves the lens hood type of attachment on the lens. Leaving the cap on the attachment and pulling on the entire assembly removes the hood. Here is the product shot again:</p> <p><img alt="Sigma 8mm" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/sigma-8mm.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <p>On the left, you can see the cap with the lens cap adapter. On the right, you can see the lens. The adapter caused harsh vignetting, limiting the &nbsp;image circle severely. This was an easy mistake to make. Fortunately, I caught it almost immediately. Opening up the lens fully, reveals that the glass actually extends beyond the metal barrel, a requirement of the extreme field of view. This is also the reason the lens cannot accept a straight lens cap or filter of any kind.&nbsp;</p> <p>I took a series of photographs in San Francisco&rsquo;s Mission Dolores (Mission San Francisco de Asis). Here is one of the first photographs I took.</p> <p><img alt="Mission through Fisheye" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/mission-fisheye.jpg" /></p> <p>I was still thinking in terms of rectilinear lenses. I wanted to achieve a wider angle, giving little credence to the spherical distortions.</p> <p>To find out if I could correct the distortions at the computer, I deliberately picked a subject where they would be evident very clearly. When I got home, I ran the image through PTLens, moving the sliders until everything looked visually correct.</p> <p><img alt="Mission PTLens adjusment" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/mission-ptlens.jpg" /></p> <p>The cropped image is usable, but the process stretches the corners. Cropping the right and left edges would leave me with an image similar to one the Tokina lens takes at 12mm.</p> <p><img alt="Corrected Mission Picture" width="600" height="316" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/mission_corrected.jpg" /></p> <p>I went to a few other locations on day one, including the Yerba Buena Gardens shown in the first picture of this article, where I chose to annoy guests at the tea lounge.</p> <p>Interestingly, a fisheye lens opens up possibilities for the shy street shooters among you. With a lens this wide, you can aim far away from your subjects, while still including them. The distortions can even enhance the feeling of the picture.</p> <h2>Day2: Changing my Focus</h2> <p><img alt="Alcatraz Cell" width="400" height="600" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/alcatraz-cell.jpg" />&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>My goal this day was to take advantage of the lens properties instead of trying to correct its &ldquo;imperfections&rdquo;. On my excursion to Alcatraz, I learned that this lens is terrifically adapted to photography in very confined spaces, when you need to include as much of the surroundings as possible.</p> <p>The distortions of this picture make the room look much deeper than it actually is. Furthermore, you can see that the lines that radiate from the center outwards remain straight. You can use this to your advantage if you need to exaggerate the depth of an object while keeping its rectangular appearance.</p> <p><img alt="Embarcadero Center" width="600" height="400" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/embarcadero.jpg" /></p> <p>Later that day I went to the Embarcadero Center to try out another idea.</p> <p>Curved objects look especially appealing through the fisheye lens. The extreme distortions seemingly enhance the object and bend straight lines around it like a black hole bending light.</p> <p>Additionally, you can use a fisheye lens to create curves. Photographing architecture, while pointing the lens upwards, creates weird looking images, with buildings bending inward as if they were made of gelatin.</p> <p>Celestial photography is yet another aspect where fisheye lenses shine. You can capture the entire sky in a single photograph. If you position your camera near an interesting looking tree stump or rock, it will bend their features, creating an alien sky.</p> <p>Love it or hate it! I have not yet made up my mind, but I do absolutely love the creative choices with round objects and cramped spaces. I also like the organic feeling of these pictures. The closer you get to your subject, the more distorted it will appear. The further something is from the center of the image, the more distorted it will be. This adds a completely new dimension to your creativity, something I will explore further in the future.</p> <p>Just as wide-angle photography takes effort to master and challenges the photographer, a fisheye requires work and much more practice to understand it.</p> <h2>Having fun</h2> <p>I intended to do celestial photography todnight, but since the sky is overcast, I will instead show you my cat through the Sigma Lens.</p> <p><img alt="Tina Nose" width="600" height="513" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/tina-nose.jpg" /></p> <p>I did not correct these images. I simply cropped left and right to eliminate the black border.</p> <p><img alt="Tina Ear" width="600" height="512" src="http://www.aguntherphotography.com/files/reviews/sigma8mm/tina-ear.jpg" />&nbsp;</p> <h2>Borrow then buy</h2> <p>You can rent a lens at <a href="http://www.borrowlenses.com/?blpid=4b50b7aaa0241" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Borrow Lenses</a>. They are a reputable company and have great prices. I usually buy my gear on Amazon.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.borrowlenses.com?blpid=4b50b7aaa0241&amp;a_bid=191392bd" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img src="http://www.borrowlenses.com/affiliate/pap/accounts/default1/banners/125x125_borrowlenses.gif" alt="Camera Gear Rentals" title="Camera Gear Rentals" width="125" height="125" /></a><img style="border:0" src="http://www.borrowlenses.com/affiliate/pap/scripts/imp.php?blpid=4b50b7aaa0241&amp;a_bid=191392bd" width="1" height="1" alt="" /><iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000GE9SBM&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe><iframe src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=andreguntherp-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000GE8MF0&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="width:120px;height:240px;" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0"></iframe> </p> <p>The kind folks at Amazon and Borrow Lenses share a tiny portion of their profits with me when you use the links above to buy from them. This helps me pay for the white space to share articles like this one with you, and for the coffee I drink while writing on long dark nights. The price for you will not change, but I appreciate the space and coffee. Thanks!</p> <p>You can get an additional 5% off from Borrow Lenses when you enter this coupon: <b>TECH5</b></p> http://www.aguntherphotography.com/tutorials/lenses/sigma-8mm-fisheye-lens-review.html#comments Cameras Gadgets Hardware photography Reviews Tue, 27 Apr 2010 07:51:35 -0400 andre 3249 at http://www.aguntherphotography.com