Archive for the 'photography + video' Category

Researching an HD Camcorder

Now that I own an HDTV, I’m seriously considering buying an HD Camcorder.

The problem I’m finding is that I really don’t want a full blown Camcorder. I own a Canon Elura 65, and we never use it. Primarily because the process of getting video off of it, takes a long as the video you shot, and if I have an hour of recording time, I’ll likely use it all up before I start importing.

When we record video with our little PowerShot point-and-shoot, I usually download it within a week or two of shooting, because the memory card gets full… so I usually edit it quickly and make a movie out of it for web use, or to put on our AppleTV (which I love by the way, just haven’t gotten a chance to post a review about it).

So, I’m looking for a good consumer quality, small sized, easy to use HD Camcorder that we’ll actually use a lot and carry with us all the time.

I’m partial to the new Canon TX1. It’s got the same form factor that we’re used to (we owned the first Canon Digital Eplh or Powershot S100 back when Canon first started making little digital cameras and have stuck with the brand since).

I’ve read this PowerShot TX1 Review by Digital Trends and also read the User Reviews and I’m almost sold.

My only problem is the amount of video that fits on one memory card. I’ve put together this little table to show the real amounts of HD video that’ll fit on the currently available SD cards on the market:

Recording Pixels Frame Rate 32 MB 128MB 512MB 1GB 2GB 4GB 8GB
Price   ? ? ? $16 $20 $30 – $50 $65-$90
1280 x 720 pixels 30 6 sec 12 sec 1:42 3:24 6:48 13:36 13:36 x2*
1280 x 720 pixels 30LP 12 sec 50 sec 3:17 6:34 13:08 26:16 26:16 x2*
640 x 480 pixels 30 14 sec 58 sec 3:48 7:36 15:12 30:24 30:24 x2*
640 x 480 pixels 30 LP 26 sec 1:48 6:59 13:58 27:56 55:52 55:52 x2*
320 x 240 pixels 60 20 sec 1:21 5:17 10:34 21:08 42:16 42:16 x2*
320 x 240 pixels 30 35 sec 2:24 9:19 18:38 37:16 60 + 14:32* 60 x2*
*Max. Clip Size: 4 GB: Even if the clip size has not reached 4 GB, recording will stop at the moment the clip length reaches 1 hour. Depending on the storage capacity of the memory card and the speed at which the data is written, recording may stop before reaching 4 GB or 1 hour. And does anyone know the difference between 30 fps and 30LP fps?

The problem I see with the TX1 is that even with a 4GB or 8GB SD card, the most HD video you can get on a TX1 is a 13 1/2 minute clip. Is that a problem? I’m not sure.

I’m looking through my source video library, and the longest shots we’ve taken lately seems to be around 3-4 minutes… we just take a lot of them.

So, I’m tempted to buy the Canon Powershot TX1 from Amazon with 4x4GB SD cards (they’re cheaper than the 8GB models for sure). Good idea or not?

Would you recommend something else?

note: I’ve considered the current line of Sony HDD based HD Camcorders, but they don’t work with a Mac (the video doesn’t have sound on a Mac) so those are out. And I really don’t want another DV Tape based camera… .AVI files are much easier to work with for me, I’ve found…

Thanks in advance.

RAW Workflow: A Pro’s Approach

RAW Workflow: A Pro’s Approach


HDR Tutorial

Great little HDR Tutorial


How to Achieve Great Indoor Photography Results

How to Achieve Great Indoor Photography Results


Getting the Most From a Background

Getting the Most From a Background


Lens Flare

Lens Flare





cheap light panel

Build your own 42″X78″ free-standing lighting panel for about $40


Make your Pictures Pop

4 Easy Photoshop Techniques to Make Your Pictures Pop!


Going into Business?

Are you thinking of taking your photography to the next level, and making a business out of it? If you are, bookmark PhotoBusinessForum and excellent blog about making a run at being a professional photographer.


How to Photograph Silhouettes

How to Photograph Silhouettes


Compare Mode in Aperture

Compare Mode in Aperture – nice little tip from O’Reilly.


Posing Tips – Waistlines, Thighs and Bustlines

Posing Tips – Waistlines, Thighs and Bustlines – good tips for a budding photographer.


How to Turn an Ordinary Photo Into an Extraordinary Photo

How to Turn an Ordinary Photo Into an Extraordinary Photo


How to Remove Tourists from Your Photos

How to Remove Tourists from Your Photos – love it!


Need a camera bag?

If you’re looking for a good camera bag for the Digital SLR and the lenses you got for Christmas, go read this article. Great advice in the article and in the comments.

I personally use three bags, depending on my needs for the day:

Case Logic SLR and Computer Backpack – I use this as my daily camera and laptop bag. It holds my Camera Body, three lenses, my flash, and laptop with chargers and iPod.

Tamrac 5612 Pro 12 Camera Bag – This is my all-purpose, carry everything with me bag that I use when I’m taking a long trip and want all of my stuff with me. Ample room for two camera bodies, assorted lenses, flashes, batteries, etc. All around great bag for a semi-pro or pro photographer.

Tamrac 5574 Expedition 4 SLR Photo Backpack – This is the first backpack I bought for my camera setup. Long story short, I don’t use it much since I got the Case Logic bag, but, it will do a good job for you, if you don’t need the laptop piece (which is what I wanted originally).

Levels and Curves

Levels and Photoshop and Photography tutorials.


Aperture vs. Lightroom

Aperture vs. Lightroom – great read, and interesting since I spent my last flight from Austin to LA sitting next to one of Apple’s Aperture sales reps (he is responsible for training resellers to sell Aperture). I got a great lesson from him in the 2-3 hour flight, and look forward to seeing him again to learn even more.



FAlbum: a WordPress plugin that allows you to display your Flickr photos and photosets on your site.


Strobist: Lighting 101

Lots of lighting articles here for you photographers.


Awesome HDR Tutorial

This HDR Tutorial is awesome.


HDR photography

Ever wonder what the hell HDR photography is really all about?

I have.

So, when I read this article: Modern HDR photography, a how-to or Saturday morning relaxation I was really excited, and wanted to start taking all sorts of HDR shots. Doesn’t look easy by any means, but does look like a lot of fun, and a challenge.

Look for some HDR shots from me by the end of September.

Beginners Guide to Manual Photography

Beginners Guide to Manual Photography



My flickrInspector data can be found here: johnengler flickrInspector data. Kind of neat.

Digital Photography 101: Shutter Speed

This is part four of a series of articles I’m writing about digital photography, as I learn more about it. You can find links to the other articles at the bottom of this one.

Any camera has a shutter, and that shutter is the “curtain” that covers your film, and either a) keeps light from hitting the film, or b) opens to let light hit your film.

In the digital world, your film isn’t really film, but it acts the same, and your shutter operates just like it would on a non-digital film camera. What’s important about the shutter is it’s speed.

Shutter Speeds are usually denoted on your camera as fractions or real numbers: 1/800, 1/600, 1/400, 1/250, 1/200, 1/125, 1/60, 1/15, 1/10, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 20, 30.

A faster shutter speed lets less light hit your film than a slower shutter speed. For example, if your shutter speed is “1/125” that means the shutter will be open for one one-hundred and twenty fifth of a second. A shutter speed of “1/60” is one sixtieth of a second, and “1” is one full second, and “30” is 30 seconds.

Shutter speed, combined with film speed and aperture, will give you an exposure.

To get a perfect exposure, your aperture and shutter speed must be aligned.

That means the bigger your aperture, the faster your shutter speed, and the smaller your aperture, the slower your shutter speed. (Remember: smaller aperture = less light hitting the film, thus a slower shutter = more light hitting the film.)

Aperture and shutter speed must balance to get a well exposed photo.

Also, a faster shutter speed typically means a “frozen” scene or photograph, whereas a slower shutter speed will allow the photo or subjects in the photo to blur. For example, this photo of my son, is a little blurry, but well lit, because I had a relatively slow shutter speed programmed (1/10th of a second). And this photo of a bug on a flower is very sharp, because I had a fast shutter speed (1/1000th of a second). And lastly, the photo below is sharp, only because I mounted the camera on a tripod, but the shutter speed is very long (30 seconds) due to the low light levels outside at night:

Goodnight St. George

With most DSLR cameras these days, you can shoot in “Shutter Priority” mode, meaning that you want the camera to always shoot at 1/60th of a second, and let the camera’s AI figure out if the aperture should be big or small, so you get the proper exposure. I find if I’m shooting inside with or without a flash and ISO 400 or ISO 800 film, and shooting in Shutter Priority mode, 1/60 is the right setting for sharp photos that are exposed enough to fix later with Photoshop, as long as I’m shooting RAW.

Just remember: shutter speed control gives you two things: sharp or blurry images, and lots of light, or less light, depending on the settings.

And combined with the aperture setting, shutter speed is the second piece to getting a good exposure. We’ll go over exposure in the next article.

Here are a few links to some other articles you might want to read on shutter speeds:

Other articles in this series:

And you can browse the rest of the Photography + Video category on this site for more links to relevant content.

How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits

How to Shoot Impromptu Street Portraits

(0) presents video tutorials showing the post processing of a photograph using Adobe Photoshop and other programs. Along the way you will learn about the tools and techniques used and gain insight into the creative decisions that directed the artist’s hand.” – amazing stuff.


Flash Mounted home made DIY Softbox

Flash Mounted home made DIY Softbox


Digital Photography Tips

Just Show Me How is a cool new site with tips for digital photographers and there’s a blog along with it too. Done by award-winning photographers. Pulitzer-prize winners and all that. Lots of fun, and has videos and such too.

copied verbatim from Scoble

I’ll point out that the site offers tips that you have to pay for, but they’re delivered as videos, so they should be really easy to follow and very easy to understand. Great for new photographers. I’ll be reading the blog for tips.

Starting Photography… and more

Starting Photography, Digital Workflow, Orphans and Amazing Zooming Images from Donncha. Excellent Read.


10 Tips for Flickr

Thomas Hawk’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Attention on Flickr – and to take one of his pieces of advice… You can see some of my photos from our recent cruise in my Flickr photostream.


In Photos

In this post by Donncha, you’ll find a really good list of photoblogs that are worth subscribing to… great photos are my weakness.


Portrait Books

Ted Leung on Portrait Books – a quick review of three books on taking portraits… great list of tips in the second mini-review.


Model World

Model World – some really cool aerial photographs that honestly look like photos of tiny models.


Converting a color photo to a black and white stencil

Converting a color photo to a single layered stencil with Photoshop – neat tutorial


Good images

Where to find good images online – good list of stock art images for sale and for free.


Streams of dusty light Photoshop tutorial

Streams of dusty light Photoshop tutorial – too cool.


Lifehacker: Photography Tips Roundup

Photography Tips Roundup – includes links to these nuggets: Avoid Backlight, Find Your Picture, Edit ruthlessly, Move it from the middle, Lock the Focus, Spot the light, Get in close.


Legal Rights of Photographers

Legal Rights of Photographers – good primer.


Cross-Processing with Photoshop

Maury posted his Cross Processing Technique for Photoshop last week. It’s the second item on the weekly archives page I’ve linked to. Interesting how much Photoshop can do once you start to understand it and the concepts behind it.


How to Build a Lightbox

How to Build a Lightbox – quick and easy read… great tutorial.


RAILhead Design on Aperture

Go read RAILHead Design’s posts on Aperture from last week if you’re interested in Aperture. Good stuff.


Getting Aperture to load without 1 GB of RAM

I spotted this on the internet somewhere (wish I could remember where, so I could point to it)

When you get Aperture, and install it, it’ll let you install it, if you don’t have enough RAM, but it won’t run, and will give you an error saying something like “This machine doesn’t have the minimum resources to run this application” (I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know what it says).

To get it to work do this:

open the file info.plist (inside the bundle)

and change this



The above hack lowers the RAM requirement from 1 GB of ram to 700 MBs of RAM. I bet you could play with those numbers to see how low you can get it and still get Aperture to work. Something tells me though that Apple wasn’t bullshitting when they say the application needs 1 GB of RAM, so if you have less, be careful with this hack.

It goes without saying this hack is totally unsupported by myself and/or Apple. Your mileage may vary.

update: a few searches on Google lead to these other posts that might help you get Aperture running on unsupported hardware:

PC World on Aperture

PC World: Aperture Takes Digital Photography Back to the Future – PC World’s Mac Skeptic takes a look at Aperture, from a “point and shoot” perspective. Not worth it for a point and shoot photographer, but probably worth it for a serious pro, if only for a few reasons is her take on it.


Digital Photography 101: Aperture

This is part three of a series of articles I’m writing about digital photography, as I learn more about it. You can find links to the other articles at the bottom of this one.

No, we’re not talking about Aperture, the software application from Apple. We’re talking about the Aperture on your SLR camera in this article.

After I answered some questions for myself about Film Speed, I started wondering: “What’s this f-stop Aperture thing that people keep telling me about?”

So, I sat down last night, and read a bunch of websites, and then took a bunch of photos (all inside) with different lenses to see if I could figure out what Aperture was.

The best way I can explain it is this:

Aperture is the diaphram that sits inside the lens on your camera. The aperture setting is the size of the opening between the outside world and your film or digital sensor that controls how much light passes through the lens to your sensor. It controls light and impacts depth of field.

Aperture is also related to shutter speed, which can also be used to control the amount of light that reaches your sensor, but impacts the amount of blur in your photos, not depth of field.

Together, aperture and shutter speed affect exposure, and the goal is to get the right exposure at the aperture and shutter speed you want to get.

Aperture + Shutter Speed = Exposure.

This is a key point to understand when thinking about photography. All cameras have a shutter, and all lenses have an aperture. They are manipulated to get the proper exposure for your shot, depending on what kind of settings you use.

Let’s talk about those settings.

Lenses can have a fixed aperture, or a variable aperture. I haven’t made any judgements or assumptions about which type is better: fixed or variable, though I’ve heard for professional photos, having a lens that allows you to fix the aperture while shooting is preferrable, so you can control more aspects of the process.

Apertures are usually denoted in f-numbers. f/22, f/16, f/11, f/8.0, f/5.6, f/4.0, f/2.8, f/2.0, etc…

It’s confusing for a beginner, but, if you can remember this, you’re set:

The bigger the f-number, the smaller the aperture.
The smaller the f-number, the bigger the aperture.

image borrowed from Wikipedia

So, a f/2.0 aperture is actually bigger in physical size than an f/2.8 or f/4.0 aperture.

Say it with me: The smaller the number, the bigger the aperture.

So, combined with the shutter speed, the aperture setting of your lens creates the amount of light exposed on the film or sense in your camera. But…

Aperture also adds that important photographic element called “Depth of Field” which is basically how you get a fuzzy background or a sharp background in your photo… you focus the image on an object, then to get the right depth of field, you set the aperture bigger (smaller number) to get fuzzier backgrounds. If you’d like to have sharper images, you need a smaller aperture (bigger number) so that your lens focuses across a larger space. Depth of Field is also very much affected by the focal length of your lens.

I’ll follow this article up with one on shutter speed, exposure and depth of field, and lenses, so stay tune. I’ll also link all of these articles together with added images to complete the whole process as I write them.

Other sites worth reading if you want to learn more about Aperture are:

Other articles in this series:

And you can browse the rest of the Photography + Video category on this site for more links to relevant content.

Ars Followup Review on Aperture

Ars Followup to Initial Review on Aperture – Ars Technica reviewer, Dave Girard, goes into more detail with Aperture based on the feedback he received from his initial review. Good reading here, especially if you’re still on the fence about dropping $500 for an immediate workflow fix to your Digital Photography needs.


Digital Photography 101: Film Speed

This is part two of a series of articles I’m writing about digital photography, as I learn more about it. You can find links to the other articles at the bottom of this one.

photos are back... Jessica Alba for startersI bet your new Digital camera has a setting for “Film Speed” on it… and if you’re like most amateurs (totally including myself here), you remember using different film speeds when you were a kid, and you actually bought film.

But I bet you always bought ISO 400 (or maybe it said ASA instead of ISO) because you never knew if you were going to take a photo inside or outside, and the clerk behind the counter (back when clerks actually knew something about what they sold) told you to go with ISO 400, because it was a good all around film speed.

Guess what? That clerk was right… but in today’s day of digital cameras, you don’t have to stick with ISO 400, because you can change film speed on the fly with your new digital camera. You don’t have to shoot a whole roll of 24 exposures, or waste the rest of those shots just to change speed.

So, like myself, you need to know what film speed to use when.

Here’s a little guide. I’ve read about 40 articles on the subject and am firmly of the mind that every photographer has their own opinion about exactly what film speed to use when and where, but, the generalities of this guide should fit most of the situations you find yourself in.

What does film speed mean?

Film speed is generally denoted as an ISO number: ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, and up…

Film speed is a measurement that indicates a film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the film speed, the faster or more sensitive it is to light

Which translates to:

Higher Film Speed -> less light needed, or faster shutter speed for action
Lower Film Speed -> bright daylight shots, static subjects, longer shutter time

Quick Guide to Film Speeds

  • ISO 100: “Slow” film, good for sunny, outdoor conditions
  • ISO 200: “Slow” film, good for overcast outdoor conditions
  • ISO 400: “Fast” film, good compromise for indoor/outdoor use
  • ISO 800 & up: “Fast” film, good for indoor use, low light conditions, or action shots

I’ve read recommendations to use ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 films (if you’re camera supports those) for extremely low-light situations when you just can’t use a flash… I’ll have to experiment more with those myself to see what I find useful.

The funny thing is that I’ve been taking photos for about 3 weeks with my “new to me” D60 completely backwards… now that I know the right way to pick a film speed, we’ll see what I get with my shots 😉

Other articles in this series:

And you can browse the rest of the Photography + Video category on this site for more links to relevant content.

Optimize performance in Photoshop

Optimize performance in Photoshop (CS2 on Mac OS) – good stuff if you’re into Photoshop. Windows version here


Chuqui on Aperture

Some initial thoughts on Aperture from Chuq – Another look at Aperture from a non-pro. “My cut: Aperture is an impressive first release; among other things, they got the performance and the organizational aspects of it well fleshed out. I’m a LOT happier with Aperture than I was with iPhoto…”


BBum on Aperture

BBum on Aperture – first look from another non-professional photographer… and I think my big problem with Aperture is going to be how I architect my organizational scheme. Aperture offers a much freer form than iPhoto in how you organize your photos, but I’m sure I’ll figure out what makes sense to me…