Monday, 27 April 2015

Topaz B&W Effects 2

Travel Photography is about creating an emotion with the viewer. Most of the time you can do this with a well edited colour image but other times you can present certain images as a Black & White and it will give it a far greater emotional feel. For example, the image below titled "Nun in Naples" is nice in colour but the B&W version to us has a greater emotional appeal and was quite successful when released on social media platforms.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Review - 3 Axis Camera Spirit Level

People always ask us why we use these when most cameras now have great tools for keeping the camera level. We have been using them for many years attached to our hot-shoe and although initially, we used them only when the camera was mounted on a tripod we have found them to be very useful in other situations. There are many different models and can be found on eBay, Amazon or at your local camera shop.
Here are a couple of reasons why this cheap little gadget should be in your camera bag -
  1. They are very handy when using the camera low to the ground. They will make it a lot easier to level the camera without "standing on your head". 
  2. They are extremely accurate. They also have multiple bubbles for confirming accuracy. 
  3. Designed for horizontal & vertical shooting. 
  4. If your camera doesn't have a built-in spirit level and you do a lot of tripod work.
However, where this gadget is absolutely invaluable is that it gives you the ability to shoot at waist/stomach level. This is crucial at times in Travel Photography. During your travels you will visit places that don’t allow photography, in these instances, if you really want to take a shot then this gadget can help, here are some steps to consider before taking the shot;

  1. Make sure that your flash is turned off before entering a place where flash photography is not allowed. 
  2. Turn off the AF assist illuminator function in your camera, (the red or white beam which assists your camera to focus in low light) as this light is a real giveaway that you’re taking a photograph. 
  3. Attach the Spirit Level to your hot-shoe 
  4. Increase your ISO so that you can handhold the camera as tripods will obviously not be allowed either. Even though you will be taking photos from stomach/waist level still try to attain a shutter speed as though you were handholding the camera. 
  5. If your camera has a Quiet Mode available then use it. 
  6. Be discreet and don't get caught :-)
Unfortunately, we live in a photography world where the majority of people don't know how to turn off the flash on their camera. So many places like historic churches, museums, galleries etc will not let you take photos simply to protect their artwork from thousands of camera flashes every day. This is particularly the case in many cities in Europe where there are many churches and galleries with valuable art.

Now some may say that it is still being disrespectful by taking interior shots this way but we can assure you that the rules have been applied due to the overuse of camera flashes and the rule has been made to apply to everyone.

When not to use this method? Well you really shouldn't use this method if -

  1. If you plan to use the images commercially. 
  2. When the location you are shooting has a contract with a photographer. 
  3. During religious ceremonies where it would be disrespectful. 
  4. After being caught by an attendant it would be fairly rude to keep doing it. 
  5. Near military installations, government buildings, and other sensitive areas. Always research and be aware of the photography restrictions and regulations of the countries that you are visiting. Being thrown in prison is a sure way of ruining a holiday or a photography assignment.
If you want to purchase one click here

Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know where this item has been useful for you when shooting.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review - Joby UltraFit Sling Strap

As Travel Photographers we spend a lot of time on our feet and it is not unusual for us to walk up to 20kms a day and sometimes this can be every day for a couple of weeks. We used to use the conventional neck straps but this was causing a lot of neck strain. Sure, we could always wear the strap over our shoulder however this was not practical and quite awkward when wanting to take a shot. There was also the option of the Joby UltraFit Hand Strap however we find these impractical in Travel Photography as it is always good to have both hands free at all times.

HDR Software - Photomatix Pro

We have been using Photomatix Pro software by HDRSoft for quite a few years and although these days we now manually blend our bracketed images in Photoshop using Luminosity Blending we still use this software quite often. For those of you interested in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography then this software is a must for you. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with HDR photography it is simply capturing several images to cover the dynamic light range of a scene. It is usually best to shoot these when you are confronted with a high contrast scene for example a scene with a bright sky and foreground shadows. We shoot practically all our HDR's at -2,0,+2 (underexposed by 2stops, Normal, overexposed by 2stops). 

Check out the video below titled "Introducing Photomatix Pro 6". It only runs just over 3 minutes and will give you a general outline of how the software works. 

HDRSoft offer a 30 day trial of the software for you try out although any saved images will have a Photomatix watermark across the image. If you are interested in purchasing then visit HDRSoft and use the code "widescenes" to receive a 15% discount. The normal price is AUD$129.00.

If you have any questions about this software please drop us a comment.

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Friday, 10 April 2015

Sony A7r - First impressions

Sony A7r - Front View
Sony A7r - front
We have been shooting with Nikon cameras for over 20 years and must say they are awesome cameras that have provided us with some great shots over the years. We will more than likely stay with Nikon for the years to come as we have invested a lot of money in great lenses.

Since 1992 we have also photographed in the 6cm x 17cm panoramic format using a Fuji G617 Panoramic camera that produces pin-sharp images. Unfortunately with the age of digital, the cost of film/processing/scanning in combination with the increasing difficulty in transporting the film through international airports has diminished our use of the camera.