DaveMazz Photography

Obsessed with Photography

DaveMazz Photography - Obsessed with Photography

Quick Review: Light, Science and Magic 4th Ed

There are a ridiculous amount of photography books on the market.  An overwhelming amount.  I’m a reader, so naturally I wanted to start with a few instructional books a few years back.  Well, my photography obsession has spilled into my reading.  I’ve reads a ridiculous amount of photography books the last year or so.  I decided I’m going to start posting some quick reviews of some of them.  A paragraph or two on what the book is about, then a section with the pros and cons.

I was pretty skeptical about this one as it seems pretty technical when you first read about it.  Family of angles this and specular highlights that, and a bunch of other technical terms.  Although that is all true, this should pretty much be required reading for aspiring photographers.  There are a lot of books that explain light modifiers, and soft light sources etc., but this book does it better than just about any other, and more importantly in my opinion, the writers explain in layman’s terms.  By the third chapter, I couldn’t put it down.  It was a lot of fun experimenting while reading.  There is nothing more satisfying than getting that big “oh yeah, that makes sense” feeling when you figure out how to do something as simple as backlight glass, or how to really control highlights.  Just get it, you won’t regret it, I promise.

 

Pros:  Has about everything you will ever need to know about light and how to modify it.  It uses a bunch of examples that are easy to duplicate.  That for me is where the real value is, you can follow along in the book and recreate what the authors do.  This is truly how you will see what they are teaching.  Some of the sections get a little tricky, but once you set up your own examples, it all comes together.

Cons:  The books can get a little confusing at times.  You really have to pay attention to each section and not just skim over parts, or you will be lost later in the book.  Treat this book like a text-book.  I advocate the use of ebooks when possible, but this is one book where I would get the hard copy of, just to write in some quick notes.  By the time you finish the book and work on the examples, you really will gain a lot of insight.  Hehe, I just realized I wrote this in the cons.  There really aren’t any cons is what I’m trying to say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying Used Lenses

I love buying used lenses.  Although I don’t have many, every one I’ve bought has been used.  There is an overwhelming amount of quality and crappy ones available for purchase.  From eBay, to Amazon to Craigslist, it is a beautiful thing.  On top of that, my SLR has an internal motor, so that knocks down the price even more, as I don’t have to get a lens that has a built-in motor if I want to auto-focus.  Unless you are a pro who demands lens in perfect condition, buying used is the way to go.  In fact, I’m sure there are some pros that buy used.  More after the break….

Buying Used Lenses

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Creating a Lighting Notebook

I have finally created a lighting notebook.  There is so much useful information available on the internet, and it’s so disorganized, that I really just wanted to create a place where all the useful information could be easily accessible for me.  I had a few prerequisites that I wanted when creating the notebook.

1.  It has to be “digital”, and not a physical notebook.  This was for a few reasons.  I have horrible handwriting, and didn’t want to have to deal with me not being able to read my own!  I also wanted to have access to it from multiple locations, which brings me to number two.

2.  I need to be able to use it from multiple locations and devices.  Be it my Ipad, Iphone, laptop etc.

3.  It has to be easily modified.  I’m constantly scouring the internet looking for a particular lighting setup, or tips on composition, etc.  I want to be able to add images and techniques without a hassle and having to use 5 applications to do it.

So that’s it.  After fiddling around with several applications, this is what I ended up doing.  Check it out after the jump….

notebook image

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Basement Photo Studio Part I

I recently move my home studio from our sunroom down to the basement.  Oh, the dreaded basement.  I was a little leary to move it down there for two reasons.  One, it’s a freakin’ basement and there isn’t a whole lot of natural light.  the second reason is the low ceilings, barely seven and a half feet, ouch.  I didn’t mind not having the natural light, as I’m mostly using speedlights when I’m shooting indoors.  Plus if I really need natural light I can just go upstairs to the sunroom.  The second issue is a little trickier though.  So far what I’ve done is have my subjects sit a little bit lower than they normally would.  It’s not quite as limiting as I thought it would be, but again, I can head up to the 15 foot ceilings in our sunroom if I really need the height.

On the plus sides I don’t have to clean up and put everything away when I’m done for he day, SWEET.  This is convenient, especially if I want to continue testing out new lighting, or if I’m just exhausted and want to call it a day early.  I also have a ton of shelving in the basement, which I didn’t have in the sunroom.  It’s way easier to grab gear from there than from my huge duffel bags.  I just feel like I have more freedom in the basement, since it was just sitting there unused except for storage…it’s unfinished, but I threw down an old curly rug, a small tv, and BAM, good to go.  I’m going to post soon on the exact setup of the basement and some of the other tweaks I did to convert it.  It’s a great budget choice if you have an unused basement, more to come on this, maybe even my next post….

Purchasing Wireless Triggers

I may need more gear. Or maybe not. But probably.  I’m definitely thinking about purchasing wireless triggers. When I started getting serious about photography a few years back, I couldn’t help myself. Every little light modifier, or eBay speedlight was MINE. I got my D3100, and 2 months later, I NEED THE D90!! For a few months, I was a regular on eBay, searching through a ton of Chinese auctions. Then one day, after reading an article on one of the countless photography sites, I had an epiphany. How about I learn to use the gear I have before I buy something I don’t really need. The sky opened up and Baby Jesus sang to me.

My point is, I only really buy gear these days if I need it. I’ve had my D90 for about a year, and don’t really see a need to upgrade it. It’s 5 years old now, but it gets the job done for me. I’ve actually learned how to use my current gear. But lately, I feel like there are a few things I can add to my bag, namely wireless triggers. I normally use my speedlights in SU4 mode, which means the off-camera flash looks for another flash, when it sees it, it triggers. This is a cheap, fairly reliable way to use off-camera flash. However there are a few drawbacks such as line of sight, the pop up flash showing up in pictures if I get in close, and the fact that when shooting outside there are times where the speedlight doesn’t see the pop up flash because of the brightness.  Continue below…

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Fauxtography

I just came across this site a few weeks ago and it’s pretty fascinating.  It contains images from “fauxtographers”.  They are essentially horrible pictures people take, edited very creatively, and then passed off as professional level photographs.  I know I’m not a professional, but it is mind-blowing some of the pictures that people pass off and actually sell to unsuspecting customers.  Some of them have to be a joke, right?  RIGHT??  Anywho, if you want a good laugh, or just have some free time, please take a look, it will make you feel better about yourself, unless of course you happen to be featured on the site.  Wait.

Easy One Light Portrait using Specular Highlights

This is a quick post on creating an easy one light portrait using specular highlights. It only takes a few minutes, and you will get great results.  The trick is using specular highlights.  Most of the information in this post I learned from Strobist, which in my opinion is hands down the best site on the web to learn how to light photographs, especially if you are using speedlights.  This is a quick and easy tutorial that anybody with even the smallest amount of gear can perfect.  After I made a few portraits using just a few pieces of inexpensive gear, I was hooked on portrait photography using off camera flash.  Come check it out….

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ControlMyNikon Review

I haven’t seen a lot of ControlMyNikon reviews on the web, so I’m reviewing this awesome tethering application.  I take a ton of self portraits, mostly to test out new lighting and posing techniques.  At least that’s my story.  In reality, my whole room is filled with ridiculous pictures of me in different poses.  My wife isn’t a huge fan of posing for me, so it’s either my dogs or me.  Cooper only sits for me for all of 10 minutes, so most of the time it’s me staring into the lens.  Come see why this is such a great learning tool, as well as a steal.  Review inside…

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Newborn Photography – Jonathan

I gave my first shot at newborn photography when my little guy was born this past October.  I read a ton of books, visited countless websites for tips and advice, and actually practiced on a stuffed animal that was around the size of a newborn.  I was going to be ready when he arrived!  ALthough Babies can be a little difficult to photograph, I was prepared to shoot on continuous mode for a few months.  More after the break…

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Yongnuo YN-468 II Review

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Back shot of the YN-468 II. Nice size LCD display, along with easy to use controls

The Yongnuo YN-468 II is an outstanding flash.  I just want to put that out there, right at the beginning of this review.  I purchased it about 6 months ago.  I was getting more into off camera flash, and wanted a cheap speedlight that had some useful features and didn’t cost a ton.  I originally found it on eBay, and ended up buying it on Amazon.  Fimd out why it’s such a great flash….

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