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How-To: Photograph Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Against a White Background

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

Sue Tallon

This still life seems simple, but it is pictorially complex: Its reds and greens are opposites—warm- and cool-toned—and the subject is both angular and round.

Looking for a new still life project? Try shooting raw fruits or vegetables. They’re readily available, can be beautiful, cost little, and—unlike cooked or frozen food—they can hold their shape, color, and attractiveness for days or even weeks at a time. And you can still eat them when the shoot is over.

“The best food photography starts with the subject itself,” says Sue Tallon, the San Francisco-based pro who shot this tomato with basil. “I didn’t decide one day that I wanted to shoot a cool picture of a tomato. Instead, I saw the tomato and more importantly its wonderful, wiry stems and knew immediately that I had to photograph it.”

The takeaway? Don’t start your still life project until you’re inspired by a subject with the right combination of form, color, and character. Find a fruit or vegetable that you want to immortalize, and you’re ready to start. “If you’re new to still life photography, I suggest that you keep it simple,” says Tallon. “Focus on beautiful things and don’t clutter the image with unimportant objects. Pick a simple subject and let everything else in the shot fall away.”

Also, pay attention to your lighting, says Tallon. “Light your food to produce nice reflections off its shiny surfaces.” Light from above to help suggest your subject’s shape. “Use window light at first to get the hang of what makes beautiful light. Then figure out what mood you want: dark and moody with deep soft shadows, or bright and blown out with washed out highlights and very open shadow areas. You have to learn how to recognize beautiful light before you can make it,” says the photographer.

Step 1

Source your subjects. Visit the best food markets and look long and hard for the right specimens. “Some fruits and vegetables have real personality or something that feels particularly interesting,” says Tallon. “That’s what you’re looking for. This tomato had a voluptuous shape and more importantly that beautiful stem! It reminded me of a Tim Burton character—all wiry and awkward.”

Step 2

Gather your gear. Almost any DSLR or ILC and macro lens will do. To add a flattering sense of compression, use a 100mm or 180mm macro. If you want to exaggerate the roundness of a fruit or vegetable, a wider macro (i.e., 60mm) will do the trick.

Step 3

Build your set. Place the camera so you’re shooting straight into the subject. As for lighting, simple window lighting will often work. Tallon, however, placed a strobe light in a softbox above the tomato to produce the white reflections, a back light to brighten the white background, and two fill lights in front to lighten shadows. “Unless you want to convey a dark or mysterious look, avoid dark shadows,” she says.

Step 4

Finesse your setup. Tallon didn’t want the tomato to appear to be floating freely in space, but needed it to appear anchored to a surface. To give it that anchored feeling, she created reflections underneath the tomato with the help of a sheet of clear, highly reflective Plexiglas placed on her white tabletop.

Final Step

Set exposure, shoot, then edit. Tallon wanted a fully sharp subject from front to back and so set a minimum lens aperture (f/22) for the shot. After shooting, she took her tomato into Adobe Photoshop CS6. “Postproduction was all about cleaning up the white background to make it pure white with no detail and removing any dust, marks, or distracting details from my subject, while slightly pumping up its color and impact,” says Tallon.

The Gear

Canon EOS-1D X: Tallon originally shot with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II (since replaced by the 1D X). Its 16.7MP sensor captured all the detail she needed for her vegetable still life. $5,300, street

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro: “I positioned the lens so that I was shooting straight into the subject for an iconic point of view” says Tallon.
$800, street

 
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A classic reinvented? Domke Chronicle Review

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

Domke Chronicle Ruggedwear Review
$349/£296 | www.tiffen.com | Buy Now

Domke has a long history of making bags that to serve the needs of working photographers. From day one, Domke bags have been designed for accessibility, durability and style that intentionally avoids attracting attention, and have enjoyed popularity with generations of pro photographers. A few years ago, after gathering input from professionals and longtime customers (myself included), Domke introduced the Next Generation line, bringing modern updates to its classic bag.

For a little background, I’ve used a Domke J-2 (a ballistic nylon version of the F-2) as my standard DSLR working bag for almost 15 years. I don’t use it to carry every little thing. I don’t use it when I want to travel light and fast. I don’t use it when I’m going to be hiking up a mountain. But I use it when I know I’m going to be in and out of my bag all day long. Weddings, kids’ birthdays, family reunions and the like all require quick and easy access to bodies, lenses and accessories. The J-2 has served me well for years and despite its age, still looks and functions well enough that I could take it to a wedding tomorrow. 

As a long time user I was interested to see what the Next Generation bags had to offer. Since the Chronicle is the Domke Next Generation bag closest in size to my old J-2, I figured that was a good place to start. Domke even calls the Chronicle ‘The grandchild of the F-2.’

Specifications

  • Exterior: 15.75″ (L) x 7″ (W) x 10″ (H) (40 cm x 17.8 cm x 25.4 cm)
  • Interior: 12.25″ (L) x 6.5″ (W) x 9.25″ (H) (31.1 cm x 16.5 cm x 23.5 cm)
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs. (1.9 kg)
  • Fabric/color choices: RuggedWear Black, RuggedWear Military, Canvas Khaki/Black and Cordura Black
  • Fits a medium DSLR and 2-3 lenses plus accessories

In Use

In many ways, the Chronicle, and much of Domke’s Next Generation lineup, is very similar in design to its classic bags. That being said, there are a number of upgrades, some minor and some more significant. In use, the Chronicle will feel familiar to anyone who has used a Domke bag in the past. The Gripper Strap on your shoulder, side pockets for accessories, metal snap hooks to close the main compartment’s flap, and a removable grab handle strap are all there and just as useful as ever.

The Next Generation bags bring a new fabric to the Domke lineup, Ruggedwear. Ruggedwear is a waxed-canvas fabric that Domke claims combines toughness, water resistance, and a retro ‘well-worn’ look. In my book, it’s pretty good looking and seems as tough as my other Domke bags. The top access zipper makes grabbing your camera or changing a lens significantly quicker. This is a feature I highly value on my shoulder bags and feel that it is exactly the kind of functionality that other Domke bag users will value.

The expandable side and front pockets reduce overall size of the bag while still giving you options for tucking in that one last piece of equipment. A redesigned top flap and side rain hoods offer more reliable protection from the elements. The velcro ‘silencers’, small flaps that cover the velcro closures and keep them from making noise, are a neat idea, but I have to admit that I have yet to use them. The antique stainless hardware is a nice upgrade. Sadly, the plastic clips that attach the grab strap are a significant downgrade. They feel flimsy enough to break in the very near future. I wish Domke had used their traditional metal clips.

New plastic clip on the left, classic metal clip on the right.

Moving away from Domke’s standard 1/2/4 section inserts, the Next Generation system offers an extensive system of internal divider options. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways you can set up the Chronicle. It comes with three dividers, two full width and one half width (along with one movable ‘pocket’). The dividers have velcro edges and stick to the sides or to each other in just about any position you choose. If those provided do not give you enough options, Domke sells additional dividers along with pockets, pouches, and padding that will help you set up your bag in just about any configuration. The Chronicle only comes with three of these dividers, which I feel is too few considering its price tag. I would have liked to see 1-2 more dividers included.

Like my Domke J-2, the Chronicle has a well padded and removable baseplate. Unlike most older Domke bags, the Chronicle has four padded ‘walls’ around the sides. This has the advantage of giving your gear an additional measure of protection that it wouldn’t have in a softer-sided traditional Domke bag. It also has the effect of giving the bag more boxy structure than the older bags. The Chronicle doesn’t form to your hip or back when carrying it. Sure, you could remove the walls, but unlike the J-2 with its inner lining of velcro or the F-2 with its inserts, the Next Generation divider system has nowhere to attach without the ‘walls.’ 

The gear capacity of the Chronicle is really dependent on how you set up the dividers. My default for shoulder bags is to have a large space on one side for a body+lens and then the lens dividers over to the other side. For me, this is the best compromise between maximizing space and still being able to quickly grab my camera. This was how I set up my old J-2 for every wedding I shot and it is how I set up the Chronicle. With this layout, I was pretty easily able to carry my 6D+ 24-70/2.8, 16-35/2.8, 70-200/2.8 a speedlight and assorted other small accessories.

By setting up the dividers so that things are a little more tightly packed, you should be able to also fit in a spare body or a couple of prime lenses pretty easily. A mirrorless kit is almost swallowed by a bag this size and generally I would suggest something smaller (perhaps the Domke Next Generation Herald). But depending on the body you use and the number of lenses you carry, the Chronicle could easily haul a lot of mirrorless gear and keep it accessible.

New vs Old

Compared to the old J-/F-2 designs, I really appreciate some of the new features. The expandable side pockets, the quick access zipper, and divider system top that list. In addition, the Chronicle’s new top flap and side ‘ears’ do a better job of protecting gear from the elements than the smaller J-2 flap.

Historically, I have thought I preferred the less structured shape of the J-2. It hugs my side better and feels as if I can move through crowds more easily. But in recent years I have come to realize a few things about shoulder bags. Past a specific size, a big shoulder bag is just a big bag no matter what. While a bag like the J-2 might protrude slightly less than the Chronicle, they are still pretty big. Furthermore, a more structured bag is a lot easier to actually use while working. The added stiffness aids in getting gear in and out; you aren’t fighting with the bag to get a lens back into its divider.

“For as much as I’ve always respected the world-weary photojournalist look of the older Domke bags, I think the Chronicle is just a little more classy looking”

Finally, the more rigid design of the Chronicle makes it unlikely to tip over when set down on the ground. Overall, I could work with either of these bags. The J-2 (and the F-2 before it) has had years of hard use proving its worth. However, the Chronicle has enough important improvements that I would choose it if I had to pick just one. To be honest, for as much as I’ve always respected the world-weary photojournalist look of the older Domke bags, I think the Chronicle is just a little more classy looking, particularly in the Ruggedwear fabric. 

What’s the Bottom Line?

The Domke Chronicle Ruggedwear is a solid, well-designed bag that should stand up to the abuse that serious photography can dish out. And let’s be honest, updating a classic can be difficult. Look at the historical joke that ‘New Coke’ has become. Domke, however, has stayed true to its soul with the Next Generation line and most specifically, with the Chronicle. Most all of the updated features are solid improvements with very few misses.

Yes, this is a premium bag at a price that starts to edge close to the truly high-end offerings out there. But this is not simply a fashion accessory either. At the end of the day, just like the old F-2, this is a bag one can work out of. It is a bag that should be as at home coming out of a staff photographer’s trunk as it is at a wedding or portrait session. Most everything you truly need out of a shoulder bag is here, and there’s very little that you don’t.

What we like:

  • An update of a classic functional design
  • Overall construction quality
  • Made in the USA
  • Top zipper access
  • Expandable side pockets
  • Velcro silencers
  • Extensive divider system

What we don’t like:

  • Premium price tag
  • Plastic clips on grab handle
  • Too few dividers included
  • Boxy shape

Final Rating: 

 
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Behind the Scenes of Benjamin Von Wong’s Insane Shark Shepherd Underwater Photo Shoot

In many ways, photographer Benjamin Von Wong is a crazy person. I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather a compliment. His fantastical images aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you certainly have to give him credit for his ability to take a creative idea and execute it with huge, awesome productions.

His latest shoot is called the Shark Shepherd and it depicts a woman, well, shepherding sharks in an underwater land. In order to get the shot, Von Wong actually had to tie the model’s foot to a rock as an anchor to keep her from floating to the top.

The shoot is part of an awareness campaign dedicated to maintaining and improving the conditions for wildlife in crucial bodies of water around the world. There’s currently an attached petition to help out Marine Protected Areas, starting with some in Malaysia.

My irrational fear of the ocean prevents me from having any desire to do an underwater shoot like this, but I still find it incredibly inspiring to see a rather ambitious shoot that has come to fruition.

 
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Shit Clients Say to Photographers

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

Life as a photographer isn’t as glamorous as you might think.
http://bokeh.digitalrev.com/article/shit-clients-say-to-photographers

 
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Fujifilm X-Pro2, X-E2s, X70 Hands-on Preview from Tokyo

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

BOKEH sent Lok and Rita to Tokyo attending a massive party – Fujifilm X-Series 5 Years Anniversary and its grand announcement of X-Pro2, X-E2s and X70!

http://bokeh.digitalrev.com/article/fujifilm-x-pro2-preview

 
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Struggles Only Photographers Will Understand

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

Admit it, it all happen to us.
http://bokeh.digitalrev.com/article/struggles-only-photographers-will-understand

 
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Ricoh Theta S 360 Camera Hands-on Review

Published on January 19, 2016 by in News

Click below to continue the video in the 360 VR mode*:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9wZbkY7bPo

360º camera could be the hottest product in 2016. Lok got to play with one of those – the Ricoh Theta S 360 camera

Special Thanks –
Big Bus Hong Kong: http://eng.bigbustours.com/hongkong/home.html
Sino Group: http://www.sino.com/en-US/Home#/ourCommunity

* 360º VR video supported by latest iPhone YouTube app, Android YouTube app and Google Chrome desktop browser.

 
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Manfrotto introduces next generation of on-camera LED panels

Published on January 18, 2016 by in News
Left: CROMA2, Right: MICROPRO2

Italian accessory manufacturer Manfrotto has introduced three improved LED panels that are designed to be used by professional and serious enthusiasts in the hot shoes of their cameras. The new panels, which are powered by Litepanels, are the CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and the SPECTRA2. Each of the new models features surface-mounted LEDs, with new lenses that improve the intensity of illumination in the light path thus delivering better efficiency and less fall-off. The company also says the new technology benefits the accuracy of color rendition. 

The CROMA2 and MICROPRO2 panels are very similar, except that the CROMA2 offers variable color temperature so that it can work in both tungsten and daylight situations – as well as those in between. Using a mixture of daylight and tungsten LEDs, the dominance of colors can be controlled via a continuous dial between 3100K to 5600K. The CROMA2 has a maximum output of 900lux, while the MICROPRO2 can manage 940lux. 

The SPECTRA2

The SPECTRA2 is a smaller panel with a maximum output of 650lux, and is daylight only. A dimmer switch allows its power to be reduced to 50%. 

There is a range of diffusers and colored filters available for each of the panels, and they all run from 6 AA type cells, an AC adapter or an L-Type Li-ion battery. They all have a ball and socket tripod head included, and the larger panels come with AC adapters and a bracket for an L-Type battery. For the SPECTRA2 these are optional extras.

The SPECTRA2 costs $219.99/£154.95, the MICROPRO2 $349.99/£259.95 and the CROMA2 is $418.99/£329.95. 

For more information visit the Manfrotto website.


Press release: 

Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, imaging equipment and accessories industry, announces the new generation compact LED lights for professional and advanced hobbyist videographers and photographers. 

CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and SPECTRA2 offer the latest LED technology available (SMT – Surface Mount Technology) in a portable size, which guarantees images with perfect color rendition and improved optical efficiency.

These on-camera LED panels, powered by Litepanels, are part of the new ready to use Manfrotto LED lights. 

CROMA2 AND MICROPRO2: COMPACT NEW LED TECHNOLOGY

A new range with the same design, the SMT LED panels embed innovative lenses, which have been specifically created for high efficiency and CRI (Colour Rendering Index).

The intensity of the LED devices can be controlled by the user – CROMA2 up to 900lux and MICROPRO2 up to 940lux. The colour temperature in CROMA2 can be regulated from 3100K to 5600K, which makes this device the perfect versatile LED panel to match the existing ambient lighting. MICROPRO2 is Daylight 5600K and permits the colour correction thanks to the diffuser and gel filter included in the pack.

CROMA2 and MICROPRO2 operate on six AA standard batteries, from mains through the included AC adaptor or on L-Type Li-ion batteries through the included battery adaptor.

Compact and powerful, thanks to the included ball head they can be used for both on camera as well as off camera use.

SPECTRA2: MINI BUT POWERFUL

The most compact LED Panel in the professional range – high efficiency in the palm of your hand. SPECTRA2 features the state-of-the-art LED SMT technology, which guarantees images with perfect colour rendition and flicker-free functionality.

SPECTRA2 is perfect for on camera use with the included new ball-head, as well as for off camera use.

The LED device is dimmable, capable of emitting 650lux, and provides a further increase in the light output thanks to the boost mode (+50%). The colour temperature of the LED Panel is Daylight 5600K but it can be changed thanks to diffusers and filter gels.

SPECTRA2 can operate on six AA standard batteries and offers, as optional, AC or L-Type Li-ion batteries adaptors.

These new powerful and compact Manfrotto LED lights guarantee best performance with a high quality light. CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and SPECTRA2 represent the top range of on-camera units.

 
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MaxCurve curve editing tool for iOS connects with Photoshop on a desktop

Published on January 18, 2016 by in News

MaxCurve is an app for iPhone and iPad that, as the name suggests, relies predominantly on curves for image editing. Overall, there are 20 curve adjustments available which are grouped into so-called kits. Another key feature of MaxCurve is its ab…

 
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Macphun Aurora HDR version 1.2 update released

Published on January 18, 2016 by in News

Macphun has released Aurora HDR Pro version 1.2, adding a few new features and several improvements to its image editing software. The update includes support for .EXR and .HDR image files, compatibility with Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246…

 
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