The Holga camera – a 120 film camera from the 1980s which has recently seen a resurgence among low-fi photo fans – is going digital, thanks to a project seeking funding on Kickstarter. The Holga Digital camera features original opti…
There’s an entire genre of videos on the internet dedicated to people destroying pricy electronics. It happens every time a new iPhone comes out and it has expanded to other gadgets. Today, one of the links flying around the photography blog …
The Circular Polarizer is on of the few remaining filters that can’t be replaced with Photoshop after the fact (though, scientists are working on it). However, just this summer I have seen several people keeping them permanently attached to their camera’s lens to protect the front glass. While it might be saving their lens, it might be ruining some of their photos.
There are several benefits to using a CP filter. It lets you control reflections on shiny surfaces in your photos, and it can even cut down on the atmospheric haze that can wash our precious contrast from your photos. But, it comes at a price. Most circular polarizing filters will block one-to-two full stops of light from coming into your lens.
In some instances, that reduction in light can be a positive. If you want to shoot wide open in bright sunlight or if you’re trying to use a long shutter speed to blur moving water during the day, it’s a desirable effect. But, in many situations, it’s going to hurt, forcing you to crank your ISO higher than you normally would, or even worse, pushing down your shutter speed and giving you blurry images.
So, what do you do if you want to protect the front element of your lens without eating into your light? A standard UV filter is a popular choice because it transmits nearly all light straight through to the lens without shifting its color or quality. There are also special filters like the Hoya Protector specifically designed to protect the front element of your lens without changing the way your pictures look. There are also many people out there who adamantly oppose the use of any always-on filter because of their potential to degrade image quality even slightly.
I had to push to ISO 4,000 at F/2.8 to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze this athletes hair in place. Using a circular polarizer, I would have had to push to ISO 8,000, or even higher.
The most recent example of this phenomenon I saw was at an athletic competition held in an old armory building. Big windows at each end provided beautiful light, but not nearly enough of it to capture fast-moving athletes without seriously cranking the ISO. One of the other photographers was using a mid-level DSLR with a kit lens. He remarked about how hard it was to get sharp photos and I noticed how dark his front lens element looked. He was hesitant to take the filter off, wanting to protect his lens from the sweat that was flying in the venue, but he eventually did and later came to tell me how much easier it was to shoot.
So, while it’s not a bad idea to keep your lens protected, it’s important to pick the right tool for the job.
The 50mm f/1.8 II was a popular lens amongst Canon shooters because of its low price, despite its low build quality. Now Canon has a new and improved formula with the 50mm f/1.8 STM – but has it lost any of its magic?
The Leica Q certainly wowed us when we spent a little time with a pre-production unit back in June. Its 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor, 28mm F1.7 stabilized lens and 3.68M dot equivalent viewfinder cut an impressive figure, something modern and class…
If you’d like to try a shot like this, have plenty of towels on hand and get accustomed to talking loudly. Once the water was turned on, Carroll had to shout to be heard by his models. He exposed this shot for 1/125 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 100. For more of his work look for his Fotofiction stream on flickr.com. Carroll’s inspiration for this photo was the 2005 neo-noir film Sin City. He jokes that “it had fake backlit rain in almost every scene.”
Stephen Carroll, a freelance photographer from Reston, Virginia, specializes in artwork for book covers, with more than 400 (mostly novels) to his credit. They’re not just any book covers, though. His genius lies in creating film noir-like scenes, complete with desperate lovers, soaked T-shirts, smoking guns, and, of course, stormy weather. “I do cinematic stock photography,” he says, “and there’s nothing like the dark of night and pouring rain to remind you of early Hitchcock.”
But it took Carroll a while to nail the cinematic look. Rain’s transparent quality is hard to light. “You can’t frontlight it,” he says. “You can only see falling water when it’s backlit.”
Be careful that your backlights don’t shine directly into the lens, because if they do, you’ll get flare and lose the noir look. Put them off to the side or directly behind and blocked by your subject.
A single backlight will work, as this shot proves. That’s how Hollywood usually does it, because it adds more contrast and drama. For full figures, though, you need two backlights. “And that’s a problem, because a backlight on each side produces two reflections on each drop. You get so many white streaks that you almost can’t see the subjects,” says Carroll.
The light source makes a difference with rain. Off-camera hotshoe flashes produce snow-like points of light because of their quick flash durations. A continuous light source yields straight streaks of light; the longer your shutter is open, the longer the streaks will be. Carroll’s preference? The “tadpole swimming upstream” effect that is produced by a studio strobe. “Its initial pop is very bright, producing the ‘tadpole’s’ head. As the light slowly dies, it produces a progressively thinner ‘tail.’”
But there’s one important fact to keep in mind: Water and electricity don’t mix. If you’re shooting with studio strobes outside, your outlet should be a ground fault circuit interupter (GFI). This will kill the electricity instantly if water causes a short circuit. If you have the choice of shoe-mount or studio strobes, or if you’re just starting out with such techniques, go with the shoe-mount to eliminate the risk of electrocution.
By the way, Carroll did not shoot this photo in actual rain. Instead, he created the scene outside using a garden hose and sprayer. The sidebar and illustration will tell you how.
Chris Holland/Mafic Studios
To create the effect of rain, photographer Stephen Carroll started by duct taping a garden hose and adjustable sprayer attachment (A) to a rod driven into the ground (B) in his backyard. With the sprayer aimed upward, he adjusted its output so the falling droplets would simulate rain. He used a stand-mounted Adorama Flashpoint strobe head and reflector (C) to backlight the drops, and a second Flashpoint in a softbox (D) to frontlight the models, both fired by a Flashpoint wireless trigger. His camera and lens were the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and Canon EF 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 IS II lens (E).“Before I turn the water on, the models and I go through many [dry] practice runs to get the poses down,” says Carroll. He schedules “rain” shoots only during the hottest nights of summer, because if it’s too cool he’s in for hours of cloning out goose bumps later.
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You may remember DPR reader Tony Eckersley by his impressive photo of the Las Vegas skyline featured recently. From the Pacific coast to the American Southwest, Tony spends his weekends in National Parks photographing desert vistas …
My experience with Holga cameras goes like that of many other people. I had one in college and I loved it. I used it to shoot a lot of crummy photos and some good ones, but I had a great time shooting with the thing. With dark rooms harder and…
Around here it was a week of ‘twos’ – Olympus debuted the second generation of its OM-D E-M10 camera, Canon introduced version two of its popular 35mm F1.4L lens, and we published our thoughts on shooting with Sony’s RX10 II. We’ll sum it all up for yo…