Last Few Links of '08

If you have a few minutes, this short slideshow from MSNBC is really moving.

Also, Yuri Arcurs and the Fotolia team got together in Berlin for a photo workshop, and they produced a short video that's worth four minutes of your time.

Thanks for a good year!

How do you pack your gear?

I posted this over on Flickr, and thought maybe it'd make a good post for the ol' blog.

This is most of the camera gear (on the electronics side) I own. Check notes on the Flickr page for details.

In the Pelican 1550 (center), I carry my cameras & glass--everything except the 70-200 f2.8 IS. Still trying to figure out whether to stuff it in here or not. I'll probably end up getting the padded divider kit for a little more stuffing room.

In the Seahorse SE520's, I carry all the miscellaneous stuff--wires, filters, spare clamps, bungees, Pocket Wizards, whatever. I usually only travel with one, so it's my "useful" case and the other is mostly for storage.

I throw a reusable silica pack in each box just for good measure.

Most of the time I pack out what I need in a Lowepro Vertex 300AW, but this is how I store everything when I won't be shooting for a while, or going on long road trips.

I originally got these boxes when I was the ship's photographer onboard USS LOS ANGELES (SSN 688). They were much safer being stowed in the belly of the beast, since it's near impossible to move about without banging against everything. Plus, in a submarine atmosphere (which contains multiple known carcinogens, and is a generally oily and unpleasant environment) the airtight seal protected my gear from contamination from airborne refrigerant, oil, polyamine, and paint fumes.

Not included is my laptop & paraphernalia, other travel options, and my light stands & modifiers. Stay tuned!

HDRI, making tough shots easier since 1850!

Tone-mapped image from three exposures using Photomatix

HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) is a relatively new trend in mainstream photography, but I bet there are many who don't know it actually began as early as the 1850's by Gustave Le Gray and his use of multiple negatives in the printing process.

It's the process of combining different exposures of the same scene into one image that shows the entire luminosity range of the exposures. And while it can't turn a bad composition into a good one, it can make a good picture really pop.

So what's so special about it, you say? Can't I just use a neutral density filter--which reduces scene contrast, and therefore increases the effective dynamic range--and get the same result?

Well yes, and no. Using an ND filter will allow your camera's sensor to capture a larger tonal range. But the inherent drawback in that is the increased amount of time that the shutter must be open to gather enough light. That lends itself to more sensor noise and motion blur, which may or may not be desired.

By not using a neutral density filter, shorter shutter speeds may be used, which will result in less motion blur. On the other hand, since multiple exposures are required, this may be a moot point since acquiring those exposures may take the same amount of time as a single shot with an ND. And what if you need to capture ten or more stops? That would require some pretty serious filtering.

HDRI was only introduced to the general public a little over ten years ago, but it's an increasingly popular trend these days. There are several programs specifically made for processing HDR images, like Photomatix or FDRTools. I encourage you to try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes. And if you've never used a neutral density filter, well, those are pretty good too, so I'm told. ;)

Tuesday Speed Link...

...literally. Check out Mark Rebilas' recent work in the drag boat racing world. His amazing shots scored him some nice double trucks in a handful of magazines.

Mad About the D3x

Video by Sam Vert

Free Calendar of the Month - December 2008

With the holiday season approaching, I've decided to start a new project--free desktop wallpapers!

Please feel free to download and enjoy this month's wallpaper. And please don't use it for anything other than a desktop background without asking me, okay? Awesome.

Thanks for reading!

You Don't Have To Travel

What's an easy way to get those creative juices flowing?

Step outside your comfort zone. Do something that you wouldn't normally try. Something that you don't have a lot of experience with.

My father-in-law has recently gotten back into photography, and one of his photographic interests is in shooting macros. Myself, I've never been very intrigued by them. I prefer shooting the bigger picture--landscapes.

A couple of years ago I made a DIY extension tube out of a body cap and a rear lens cap glued together, but I never really played around with it. So yesterday I decided to give it a try. Armed with my macro rig, I hopped over the fence in my backyard and spent about half an hour snapping away. Came back with a few decent shots, and it reminded me that even though it's easy to think those great shots are miles down the road, sometimes there are gems hiding in your own backyard.