When you're thinking about your wedding photography, have you considered these points?
I've been to CES quite a few times now, and I can't help but notice that photography is starting to be less and less of a focus for the show. To wit: This year, like many years before, the PMA is hosting... well, in their own words, "Digital Imaging/Photography Exhibits and Sessions, presented by PMA, at 2015 International CES".
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is one of the biggest platforms in the world for announcing new photography kit. So what went down in 2015?
Tell the truth, how often do you print any of your photos? And how often do you go to have a selection of your images printed only to be deterred by the prospect of having to upload them to a print company's website, which always seems to be a slow process, and then prevaricate about their sizes and formats? If the answer to the first question is 'not very often' and if the answer to the second question is 'more often than I'd like', then photo print service Printhug has an IFTTT-based solution to transfer images from digital to print with the minimum of fuss.
Should you have not heard of IFTTT, it's an automation programme that allows you to write 'recipes' to connect various apps and services in your digital life (IFTTT calls them 'channels') in order to do things. All recipes are based on the statement 'If this, then that.' If you do something on one channel, this prompts an action in another channel. If I publish a new article here on Photocritic, a tweet is posted on Twitter linking to it.
With Printhug, you extrapolate the IFTTT theory to 'If I post an image to Instagram and tag it #printhug, then Printhug will print it.' You can substitute 'Instagram' for 'Facebook' if you prefer. Or have the images that you upload to a particular Dropbox folder sent to print without any fuss.
Print orders can be aggregated from several different sources, for example Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook, and a minimum order can be set, too, ensuring that you accumulate a viable number of prints before they're mailed to you.
Square photos are automatically printed in 4×4" format (49¢ each), while you've a choice of 6×4" (49¢), 7×5" (89¢), and 10×8" ($3.49) rectangular prints.
Printhug ships to USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. How much it'll cost will depend on how much you order.
Black Friday with its crazed rush for the shops and silly deals on sales is upon us. I've rounded up the best of the offers and listed the places that have sales happening. I'll add to it as I'm notified of any more. Take a look and see if you can grab a bargain!
Adorama has an astonishing number of offers running over the Black Friday weekend. These include Canon 6D bundles going for $1,519 and 70D bundles for $1,149; the Pentax K-5 IIs for $469.95; and Sigma 70-200mm lenses for $1,099.
- DJI Phantom Quadcopters
There's a whole lot more, though, so do check out the deals page.
You can claim 20% off your Instagrammed marshmallows by using the code FALALABOOMF when you place your order.
You can claim 30% off your Fracture orders, using the code BF2014 at the checkout.
Buy iStabilizer's flexible tripod, mount, & 360 degree lens for $29.95.
Buy a Lollipod and get a universal phone adapter (worth £9.99) for free.
Buy an Olloclip 4-in-1 lens and pick up either a 3-in-1 macro system or a telephoto lens (even both, if you want) at a reduced price.
Photobox is offering 50% off of all prints and posters. You'll need the code BLACKFRIDAY, and you'll need to order before midnight in the UK.
Photojojo has reduced the prices on a welter of its products, including lens mugs, battery buddies, and iPhone telephoto lenses.
Buy a Triggertrap mobile kit and a flash adapter in the Triggertrap shop and get 20% off your order. You'll need the code HIGHSPEEDFRIDAY to benefit.
Here in the UK Wilkinson Cameras have a large selection of cameras, lenses, tripods, flashes, and bags available at discounted prices.
You can't go wrong giving a book as a gift. Here's a round-up of our favourite publications this year (and two from last year), which would fit the bill for any photographer.
Books by Team Photocritic
As much as we'd love to tell you to go out and buy all of our books because they're amazing and beautiful, that might be verging of self-promotion over-dose. Instead we've each picked out one of our books that we believe makes a great present.
Haje has selected his The Rules of Photography and When to Break Them. We're both fervent believers in the notion of knowing the rules so that you can break them properly, and this book teaches you precisely that, from why horizons need to be level and how to tilt them successfully, to embracing the grain from high ISOs.
The Rules of Photography and When to Break Them is available for £17.99 as a dual print copy and e-book bundle.
I've chosen Surreal Photography: Creating the Impossible, a whimsical trail through in-camera and post-processing manipulation to produce images that combine reality with the farthest recesses of your imagination.
Right now, Surreal Photography: Creating the Impossible is on sale at the bargain price of £9.99 for a print and e-book bundle.
Artisans by Tim Allen
If you'd like to give a gift that will raise some much-needed money for a deserving cause as well as bringing pleasure to its recipient, do take a look at Tim Allen's photo book, Artisans. It explores the work of the violin-restoration, boat-building, stonemasonry, stained glass, and smithing professions in gorgeous black and white photos, while the proceeds go to the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society.
Recommended donations are £10. Details of how to order a copy (and more on the book itself) from Tim Allen's website.
30 Second Photography by Brian Dilg
Take the 50 most important aspects of photography, explain them using 300 words and one picture each and you have the wonderful 30 Second Photography, by Brian Dilg. It's a perfect book for any photographer: novice or highly-experienced.
Moodscapes by Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir
Moodscapes is landscape photography ramped upto 11 with beauty and wonder. You could just flip through it awestruck by the images, but Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir also shows you how to accomplish these gorgeous photos yourself.
Buy Moodscapes as a print and e-book bundle for £19.99.
NY Through the Lens by Vivienne Gucwa
If New York is a street photographer's dream, then Vivienne Gucwa's collection of images taken in, around, and about the city is a dream of that dream. Explore Gucwa's city with her, through her words and through her pictures.
NY Through the Lens costs £20 for a print and e-book bundle.
The Photographer's Master Guide to Colour by Jeff Wignall
We teach ourselves about exposure, about composition, about post-processing. How much do we know about colour? Enlighten yourself, and elevate the impact of your images, with Jeff Wignall's impressive The Photographer's Master Guide to Colour.
The Photographer's Master Guide to Colour is available as a print and e-book bundle for £17.99.
Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh by Eleanor Macnair
In autumn last year, we featured Eleanor Macnair's marvellous project, Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh: her Tumblr project recording the recreations of famous photos she fashions from Play-Doh, a pint glass, and a plastic spoon in her living room. Now it comes in a book.
Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh costs £20.
The Street Photographer's Manual by David Gibson
Street photography books are ten-a-penny. Enter ‘street photography’ into Amazon and the search will return 30 pages of results. When you find a compelling and practical but inspirational book on the topic, you take notice. The Street Photographer's Manual deserves a look.
If your photographer-loved-one is no longer a beginner; if there's nothing in the macro, high-speed, or landscape lists to light their studios; and if smartphone photography isn't her or his bag, we've another list of suggestions of gifts that might just fit the bill. Starting at £10, we hope we can help you find the perfect present for the photographer in your life.
A photo snowglobe
It's as cheesy as a French fromagerie, but at £10 and with space for two photos of your choice, I could barely resist this snowglobe from Urban Outfitters.
Camera-shaped ice cube tray
We have ice cube trays in a variety of shapes, from fish to stars. There's no reason why we wouldn't add some photography-themed trays to the mix. One tray from Enlight Photo costs £10.
Click and Blossom have some photography-themed t-shirts for women and men, boys and girls starting at $25. I'd be happy adding quite a few of them to my wardrobe. Or you could choose from one of their cushions or bags.
Your image on a puzzle!
Puzzles Print will provide a 1,000-piece jigsaw with one of your images on it for £30. A 15-piece puzzle for a little person is £22, with a welter of sizes in between the two. There are magnetic options and collages, too.
If you're in the US, USAPhotoPuzzles offers a similar service.
Foldio pop-up studio
The Foldio is a pop-up studio, made in miniature. The walls are white and there's a row of built-in LEDs to cast light on your subject. From as flat as a pancake it takes minutes to erect, held together with magnets.
ONDU pinhole camera
Light and a box &mash; pinhole photography is photography at its most simple, and most enlightening. I fell in love with ONDU's hand-crafted wooden pinhole cameras earlier this year. Everyone should go back to the basics of the medium every now and again; this is perfect.
It's not fancy with flash, but for anyone wanting to start with artificial lighting, a basic set-up with some continuous lights and soft-boxes is a good place to start. Like this one for $135, or this for £150.
If you need something cheaper, this one is coming in at $55.
It seems impossible to move amongst a photography or tech blog or news site without stumbling across, or being swooped upon, by a remote-controlled aircraft carrying a camera. You can get started with aerial photography for $500 with a DJI Phantom FC40. Or you could spend as much as $3,000 for the new DJI Inspire 1 with its 4K camera.
Landscape photography and wide-angle lenses go together like strawberries and cream. While I've taken great pleasure using a Sigma 17-35mm ƒ/2.8-4.0, it's now out of production. However, the Tamron 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 is regarded as a great value-for money option that comes in a range of mounts. You can of course spend a whole lot more, or choose a prime instead of a zoom lens, but that's a good starting point.
Photographers with mirror-less cameras might want to consider the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm ƒ/2.0, which is cracking value for money and is available for plenty of different cameras.
Tripods suitable for landscape photography are awkwardly demanding. They need to be portable: doubtless you will be schlepping it and yourself up hill and down dale in search of shots. But simultaneously, they need to be sturdy and able to withstand wind, maybe rain, and uneven terrain.
Securing vivid colours and correctly exposed landscape photos often relies on the judicious application of a filter across a lens: maybe a neutral density filter, perhaps a polarising filter. Filters need to be the right size for the lens and they come in various grades, for example you can choose between one and 12 stops—with everything in between—for a neutral density filter.
A filter kit containing a UV, polarising, and neutral density filter is a good place to start. We've picked out two, at different price points, which should fit on the Tamron lens we've suggested. But do double-check!
You need a bag that's easy to schelp about all day. It needs to be weatherproof. You should be able to attach a tripod with the minimum of fuss. And of course your kit should fit snugly. We think that the CaseLogic DSB-103 (can't they think of memorable names?) is great value at a little under $70. It's a backpack; it has a detachable waterproof cover; tripod storage shouldn't interfere with bag access; and it'll fit a camera and four lenses.
It's all very well your camera bag being waterproof and you looking fit to go to sea in a Force 5 gale, but if your camera isn't protected from the elements, then your landscape photography expedition will be a fruitless endeavour. Or possibly a very expensive one if your camera suffers from water damage. Pick up a rainhood. They don't cost $10 and they'll let you take photos in the most inclement of conditions.
Remote shutter release
You have erected your tripod and ensured that it's stable on uneven terrain. You have composed your shot with a perfectly positioned horizon and delectably enticing leading lines. You have carefully calculated your exposure to capture the light and the intensity of the colours. And then you go an ruin it all by depressing the shutter button and introducing a fraction of camera-shake into the shot.
Use a remote release. Please.
There are so many smaller accessories that I could have included in this list which make the life of a landscape photographer easier and more pleasant, the article would have run to the length of a post-graduate degree-level essay. I've opted for a torch, however.
(Okay, seeing as you asked, the leading contenders for this entry included a pocket knife, gaffer tape, and a bubble level.)
I loathe cold feet. They make me incontrovertibly miserable. They can also be a curse of landscape photography. Buy your landscape photographer loved one some warm, waterproof socks and you will win yourself many favours. Head to your nearest outdoor shop to see what they've got on offer.
A good pair of gloves goes a long way, too. I love MacWet gloves: warm, waterproof, but they don't compromise on grip.
You might also want to consider hats, scarves, jackets, and trousers. Even boots. Or for the warmer months: sunscreen and insect repellant.
For those moments when an energy boost is required.
Some of the most fun that you can have in the dark with your clothes still on is high-speed photography. Capture balloons going splat and china being smashed with a little help from a flash and some relatively inexpensive kit. For ayone who's looking to have a go, we've compiled a list of the essentials, from kit to subject-matter!
High speed photography is nothing without flash. For anyone who's intent on capturing popping balloons, smashing plates, and exploding sweeties, they're going to need some manually controlled fire power. However, take one look at the range of external light sources that can be hooked up to a camera and it's enough to leave you running for a darkened cave. TTL, guide numbers, sync speeds, remote triggering: there's a lot to take in.
You can spend a lot or a little on external flashes. The Yongnuo YN560 III sells for about £50 here in the UK or $70 in the US and is compatible with Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax cameras. There are other third-party makes to consider, for example Phottix, or you could look for a manufacturer-specific flash.
A flash adapter
High-speed photography relies on hyper-fast flash to ensure the perfect exposure. For that, it's best to use a specialist flash adapter, which allows you to trigger the flash directly, rather than relying on your camera's triggering mechanism, which can take an eon in high-speed photography terms.
Triggertrap produces a flash adapter, priced £20, to use in conjunction with its mobile dongles, TT v1, and the forthcoming Ada.
If you decide to use the Triggertrap flash adapter, then you'll need a Triggertrap mobile kit to activate the flash using its sound trigger (or maybe one of its other sensors). Even if you don't go down the Triggertrap flash adapter route, having a Triggertrap to help you fire your camera, whether in blub mode or using one of its sensors, is mighty helpful for high-speed photography.
Triggertrap mobile kits start at £23. Don't forget to download the free app, too.
Heavens, we must sound like tripod bores, but a tripod is essential for high-speed photography work. High-speed photography means working in the dark, so look for something that's sturdy, just in case it's accidentally knocked. Have a look at Dave, from 3 Legged Thing.
Purveyors of high-speed photography will be in need of high-speed subjects. Pick up some packets of balloons to be used for popping—water-filled or otherwise—and capturing the moment they go bang!
Rootle around at jumble sales and in charity shops for chipped plates, cracked bowls, and ugly mugs that can be smashed with hammers or shattered by bullets without worrying that you're blowing the family's inheritance. You might want to pick up a hammer and a pair of safety goggle, too. Just in case.
Perfect for smashing, and then you get to eat it.
It's Day Three of the Photocritic Holiday Gift Guide and we've switched from interchangeable lens cameras to smartphone photography. In-keeping with our previous (and indeed future) lists, it's a mixture of practical and fun. There should be something here for anyone who ventures out with their smartphone, whether an addict or an occasional shooter!
I'm a huge fan of the Easy-Macro band. It's a cheap, portable, and flexible (quite literally) macro photography accessory for your smartphone. It costs $15, it can live in your wallet, and whether you use an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy, it'll fit on your phone and provides 4× magnification for your photos. It's easy to use and delivers great results. What's not to like?
We featured Fotobit frames here on Photocritic earlier this year, when it was archive-deep in a Kickstarter campaign. Funding goal reached, Fotobit has gone into full-scale production and you can pick up a set of three inter-locking frames for $45 or nine for $99. Choose your photos, snap together the frames in whichever layout you want, and hang them on your wall.
Icon lapel pin
If you want to flaunt your support for Instagram on your sleeve, or thereabouts, Photojojo has some cute lapel pins for $12. If you're a Pinterest or Photoshop supporter, they offer those, too. But, you know, this is the smartphone photographers' gift guide, so keep that one on the quiet side.
If you want to create selectively focused images optically, rather than digitally, take a look at the Lensbaby LM-10. It costs around $70, requires a free-to-download app, and is currently compatible with iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, and 5S and Android devices running Jellybean 4.1 to Kitkat 4.4.
Lights, camera, flash!
Improvements have been made to smartphone flash since their first glaring white days, but it's still far from perfect. Subjects are startled, appear washed out, and the colour rendition leaves a little to be desired. So why not introduce some off-phone flash? Like the Pocket Spotlight. It's another Photojojo item, costing $30.
Earlier this year I had great fun trying out the palm-sized Projecteo. You select nine images from your Instagram account, they're printed onto a mini slide wheel and despatched to you with a baby projector. For $35. With world-wide shipping.
I succeeded in losing my Tiltpod, or at least temporarily misplacing it, when we moved earlier this year. It was very frustrating. Right now Tiltpods are only compatible with iPhones 4, 4S, 5, and 5S, but I believe Gomite is working on a 6-sized product. The 4/4S version costs $15; the 5/5S case costs $30.
Yes, we know that we're biased, but if we can't publicise our own books here, where can we? And Social Photography is a particularly pretty book full of lovely images, fantastic tips, and useful knowledge when it comes to taking, and sharing, smartphone photos.
Day Two of the Photocritic Holiday Gift Guide takes us into the world of the the close-up, and macro photography. We've compiled a list of suggestions for people who might be starting out and want to give macro a try, or who've been at it a little while and might need some kit to help them along.
You might be wondering why anyone who already has a tripod might need a macro-specific version. It's not at all compulsory; however, for those photographers who are serious about their macro work, some tripods are preferable compared to others.
Instead of spending money on a dedicated macro lens, inserting an extension tube between camera and existing lens can have a similar effect. We understand that not everyone wants to have a go at making her or his own extension tube from a Pringles can, but thankfully commercially produced extension tubes are in abundance, manufactured by both the likes of Canon and Nikon as well as third parties.
You can pick them up in a variety of lengths and prices. Take a look.
For anyone who's particularly in love with macro photography, a dedicated macro lens will be high up on her or his wish-list. You can spend anything from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand. Some are zoom; many are prime. They're produced by both camera and third-party manufacturers. They come both with and without image stabilisation.
All photography relies on light, but macro photography is especially light-hungry. To help manipulate and direct illumination precisely where it's needed, no macro photographer should be without a reflector. Reflectors come in a variety of sizes and colours, but we've picked out this 5-in-1 reflector that incluces gold, silver, white, and black surfaces as well as a diffuser to help evenly spread light across your subject, too.
The shadowless light produced by ring flashes makes them ideal for macro photography. They're also relatively simple to use and start out with very reasonable prices, too, which makes them ideal for both beginners or as gifts.
Take a look at this Bower ring flash priced at $70 as a starting point.
One never seems to have sufficient hands when it comes to macro photography. Or flowers have an inconvenient habit of swaying in the breeze creating nothing but blurry images. This is where a plamp comes in handy. Attach one end to your tripod (or anything sturdy and reasonably close) and use the other to secure a plant stem, angle a reflector, or hold a backdrop in place.
Haje's excellent Macro Photography Workshop is now only available as an e-book. If you'd rather purchase one of the dead-tree variety, take a look at Digital Macro and Close-up Photography by Ross Hoddinott.
Tasty and great for macro photography!
We have received our first Christmas card here in the Bowker household. We're putting its early appearance down to a combination of my aunt's ruthless efficiency and her desire to ensure it made it from the Antipodes before, rather than after, Christmas. Despite the fact that I try my hardest to push Christmas from my mind until my birthday, which is at the beginning of December, has passed (Chanukah often falls over my birthday; it has a pass-card), it's probably about the right time to unveil this year's Photocritic Holiday Gift Guide.
We've put together seven bundles of suggestions for all types of photographers, ranging in price and practicality. We're kicking things off with ideas for beginner photographers. Assuming that they're set up with a camera, any of these items should be on a newbie's wish-list.
No photographer should be without a tripod. I happen to have more than one. And a monopod. But a beginner doesn't need such an extensive collection. Just the one will do, and the Manfrotto G-2015 is excellent value for money at $30.
The first lens I acquired for my first dSLR was a 50mm ƒ/1.8. That camera has long gone, but the lens remains in my camera bag. It's battered and bruised, but still my go-to lens. I wouldn't be without it, and neither should anyone with a camera.
Their affordability and ready availability, as well their photographic adeptness, makes them great gifts.
Lens cleaning kit
Yes, it's terribly mundane, but it's also terribly useful. Don't let anyone out without a lens cleaning kit. You can pick up this nifty one, which includes a brush, blower, and microfibre cloth, for a little over $10.
My camera bag criteria are extensive and demanding, but high up the list is for it not to look like a camera bag. Apart from having an obsession with bags that's marginally milder than my obsession with shoes, I'm in no way inclined to mark out the contents of my bag as being a desirable target for nefarious types. For a versatile, not-too-obviously-a-camera-bag-camera-bag, we'd recommend the Lowepro Urban Photo Sling 250. Right now, they're also cracking value for money, at about $45 in the US and £37 in the UK.
For something much more discreet, and definitely aimed at a mirror-less camera, have a look at the Cosyspeed system. Haje recently gave one a run for its money with very positive results.
External hard drive
Twenty-plus megapixel images have a habit of eating up computer hard drive capacity as Team Photocritic does ice cream. Storing them on an external hard drive (or two or three for security purposes) is a far more practical solution. A portable terabyte of storage might not excite anyone, but the recipient will be grateful for it. If not immediately.
When you're shooting in JPEG, an all-singing and all-dancing editing suite might not seem a necesity. But it soon becomes one when you make the switch to Raw. And if you've a Raw-capable camera, why wouldn't you? It gives you unprecedented control over the appearance of your images. While I'm no fan of Adobe's Creative Cloud, it is still possible to purchase a stand-alone copy of Lightroom. And I do love me some Lightroom.
Once you have the bare bones of a kit, the most important investment you can make to improve your photography is in yourself. That comprises books, courses, and time spent practising and evaluating your skills. We know we're biased, but we do believe that Haje's Ilex Introduction to Photography is a fabulous starting point.
Terry's Chocolate Orange
Because why ever not?
How do you 'be' a photographer? This question, posed by Laurie Young in his book Being a Photographer, isn't about the technical considerations of aperture and your intimate knowledge of ISO, but rather your intent every time that you pick up a camera. For whom are you taking photos and what is it in these photos that your viewers will appreciate?
The book starts with two questions:
- If you take a photo and no one sees it, what was the point?
- If you take a photo that’s ignored by everyone who sees it, what was the point?
They're good questions. You should ask yourself them now. Why do you take photos? Whom are you expecting to look at them? Every time that you pick up your camera, what are you intending to accomplish with it, because if you take a photo to which nobody pays any attention, isn't that a waste? If that's the case it falls on you as a photographer to ask yourself 'Why would anyone look at my images?' The point of the book is that you must have intent whenever you take a photo: what impact do you want your photo to have on someone when she or he looks at it?
These two initial questions are developed into two themes that run throughout the book: first, unless you pick up your camera with a posit, there is no point in picking it up at all; and second, that your intention does not have to be the same for every photo that you take and every viewer you try to engage. In fact, being able to identify your viewers and their different expectations is part of what helps you to 'be' a photographer.
Knowing this, however, is all very well. How do you put it into practice into to make you a better photographer? The book does this by building on these two questions, introducing a series of projects, with a different audience at the heart of each. It starts with you and progresses to your family, your friends, to strangers, and finally to people whom might pay you for your work. Each project is aimed at helping you take the right photos for each of these groups of people by focusing on your intent and their expectations.
Being a Photographer isn't a long read, but it is a valuable one. It forces you to consider the relationship between you and your photos' viewers, that's bridged by your photos. By helping you to identify for whom you are taking photos and what they want from them, it helps you to take better photos, and to 'be' a photographer. The book is available in hard copy format or as a digital download from Laurie's website, Wildfalcon. Laurie's worth following on Twitter, too, where he's @lry_photo.
Between 11:00 and 15:00 I shall be on the second floor of Waterstone's in Cambridge, offering smartphone photography demonstrations, one-to-one advice, and signing copies of my books if anyone wants to buy them.
If you're in or around Cambridge, please do drop by. I'd love to see you!