Nov 102011

What focal length lens to use for a flattering portrait shot?

The conventional wisdom seems to suggest that 50mm is ideal on a full frame camera. Personally I prefer somewhere between 70mm and 100mm. I recently came across a comparison done across a wide range of focal lengths on Stephen Eastwood’s website. I won’t plagiarise his page here but encourage you to look at the photo below and to read the article on his website.

Focal length comparisons

I hope this gives you something to think about and to try next time that you have to take a portrait shot.

Whilst you are at it have a look at Stephen’s main website he is an excellent portrait photographer in my opinion

 Posted by at 12:00 pm
Nov 062011

This post is about getting photos onto the iPad.

The easiest way is to take a photo with either of the cameras already present in the iPad but the quality of these leaves much to be desired. The second way is by uploading them to the iPad from iTunes from your computer. It is the third method that I am going to write about, that is the use of a camera connection kit and uploading the photos direct from your camera to the iPad.

The official Apple iPad Camera connection kit costs £25 and is available direct from Apple here. You get two adapters one with a USB connector on to plug your camera cable in to and the second has an SD card slot in it. Alternatively you can purchase a camera kit made in China from eBay such as this one for around £4. One of the advantages of the eBay one is that it is slightly larger and it has both USB and SD card slots in the same adapter , there is a small slide switch on the side to select which input to use.

Apple connectors

eBay adapter

The adapter just plugs into the port at the bottom of the iPad. It is then just a matter of putting in your SD card or connecting your camera to the USB interface.

Once you have connected to the iPad you will see a screen like this

Import screen

As you can see the iPad recognises and imports both RAW (it knows my Canon 40D RAW files anyway) and JPG files. You now just select the Import All button on the iPad and your images will be imported.

On Import

You get the option to delete the files from your camera / memory card if you want to. Your images are stored in the ‘All Imported’ folder on the iPad.

Album screen

Finally you can view both the RAW and JPG images on your iPad.

Image display

When you get back to your computer you can then import the photos as you normally would through your file browser interface.

This is an easy method of getting your photos onto your iPad and displaying them immediately on a 1024 by 768 screen and of course you can zoom into them as normal on the iPad. I found this a really good £4 investment and even the official Apple one at £25 is not too bad either.

 Posted by at 12:16 pm
Oct 102011

Photography 1 on 1

This channel is sponsored by Adorama one of the large US photographic stores. It features Mark Wallace as the presenter. Mark covers mainly shooting topics and occasionally editing in Photoshop. The topics he covers are chosen from questions he receives from viewers of his videos. Each video lasts about 15 minutes and they are uploaded to YouTube regularly.

This is a recent video on focus basics.

Photo Gavin

The presenter of these videos is Gavin Hoey a UK photographer. Gavin’s videos usually cover editing in Photoshop and sometimes Lightroom and occasionally he covers practical shooting tips. His videos last between about 7 and 15 minutes depending on the subject covered.

This is a recent video about Time Lapse photography.


To make it easy to find when a new video is published from each of these presenters you can subscribe to their channels on YouTube. You then receive an email each time a new video is published. Just go to YouTube and create an account if you don’t already have one. Search for one of the videos above and once you have found it click on the subscribe button just above the video and you will start to receive the notifications.


If you have any relevant YouTube channels that you are subscribed to please post a comment and include your recommendation.


 Posted by at 8:11 am
Sep 282011

Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) is a free programme for all Windows computers and is available for free download from here.

This is a great programme for creating panorama images. Until this programme was recommended to me I had always used Photoshop to create my panoramas. Even on a powerful machine Photoshop can take a long time to render panoramas and even with the automatic settings sometimes Photoshop gets it wrong and you have to select a different setting and wait again for it to render. The only disadvantage with ICE is that it doesn’t create the layers and masks that Photoshop does BUT it does do such a good job that on most occasions you won’t need the extra flexibility of Photoshop.

 How to use ICE.

This programme is so easy to use that it doesn’t really need this tutorial but I will run through it anyway. On loading the programme this is the window that you see Opening screen

You can drag and drop your images onto the centre grey area of the ICE window or go to File > New Panorama to browse your hard disk and select your images. ICE allows stitching of a large array of image types including jpg and some RAW file types. As soon as the images are loaded the programme goes to work and in literally a few seconds the photographs are analysed and the panorama is created. Until you have loaded some images all the other options, except for Exit, are greyed out.


Now the images are stitched the other options below the image are now available.

The first choice that you have is to select the type of ‘Stitch’ that the programme has performed, the programme started with the automatic options, analysed the panorama and then decided the best way to stitch the images together. The screenshot shows the other options that the programme could have used and should you want to select one of the other options then the panorama will be automatically re-created with these settings.

The next option available is to crop the image. The image itself is displayed with the crop marks around it and you can re-size the image using the grab handles around the image or select specific sizes by typing into the dialog box. At the bottom of the dialog box the actual image size in pixels is displayed.

The export option allows the changing of image from the default JPEG type to those shown in the screen shot. Scaling and image size can also be adjusted as well as JPEG quality.

The final thing to decide is what you want to do with your panorama image. The ‘Export to disk’ option saves the resulting panorama to your local disk drive. The ‘Publish to web’ option allows you to publish the full sized panorama to the Microsoft Photosynth website, should you select this option then you need the Photosynth software installed on your computer and an account to upload the image to. A nice thing here with ICE if it finds the software is not installed it offers to install it for you and then offers to create an account all without losing your panorama.

Finally there is the information screen that tells you various information about your panorama image.

This is the panorama that that you have seen through the tutorial and a larger version is on my 500px gallery.

If you shoot panoramas either occasionally or regularly I  can certainly recommend this programme to you.

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Sep 252011

Google+ is in some peoples opinion, including mine, the best of Facebook and Twitter combined.

Initially access was by invitation only but as of this week anyone can set up a G+ account and just like Facebook it is free.

Facebook has just this week caught up with G+ in that both allow the restriction of your post visibility if required. In G+ you set up groups and so you could have a Family Group, Friends Group, Work Group etc etc a group in G+ speak is a circle.

G+ is fully integrated with Picasa and so images can be automatically integrated from your Picasa gallery and displayed in your post. The quality of the photos is therefore much better than Facebook.

In a very short period of time, bearing in mind that initially G+ was by invitation only, it has gathered a large membership of photographers worldwide.

Like anything new it will take time to build a large membership but it seems to me that G+ is building a large membership at a pretty rapid rate.

Will it replace Facebook and Twitter? In my opinion probably not BUT I think that it will become a popular place to be.

Give it a try and if you don’t like it you can always delete your account.

Scott Kelby has also written about G+ on his blog.

There is an excellent How to Use Google+ on Colby Brown’s blog.


 Posted by at 10:11 am
Sep 232011 is a new (to me) website and is similar in some respects to but at the moment it has none of the issues that Flickr has. Recently it has been receiving lots of good press and the standard of the majority of the photos is excellent.

There are two levels of membership ‘Free’ and ‘Awesome’. The free membership allows you to upload a maximum of 20 photos in a rolling 7 day period and allows you to have one portfolio of your images. The Awesome membership, which costs $50 per annum, allows unlimited uploading of photos and also a portfolio of images orgainsed by type and much more. Both allow a free blog and a free domain for people to view your images. The site allows ‘Nude Content’ to be uploaded but it is up to the individual user whether they see this content or not.

The site is intended to be a showcase for your best photographs. Most members stick to this, but of course not everyone’s assessment is the same. Rather like the social media websites it allows you to have friends and followers of your photos and it allows comments and voting on any of the photos that you upload.

The Photos section of the site is split in to Popular, Editors Choice, Upcoming, Favourites and Fresh. Popular are those photos that are receiving a lot of votes from members. Editors Choice are photographs selected by the sites owners that they particularly like. Upcoming are photographs that have received a lot of recent votes but haven’t yet made it into Popular. Favourites are the photographs that users have selected to make a favourite of theirs. Finally Fresh is where all the newly uploaded photographs are displayed, needless to say this page on the site changes very frequently.

Even if you don’t want to post any of your own images to the site it is still worth a visit to look at some of the excellent inspiring images.

 Posted by at 1:53 pm
Sep 212011

The Grid is a weekly podcast shown live at Kelby TV – The Grid at 4pm EST every Wednesday. It is then made available to watch as a replay on Friday on the same website.

This show is usually presented by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski and covers various aspects of photography. There are frequently guest speakers who are interviewed in a very friendly style by the two presenters.

Each episode typically lasts for just over an hour and are well worth watching. You can interact with the live show via Twitter and there is usually a competition with a prize for both the viewers of the live show and also the re-broadcast on the web.

Photoshop User TV is available as a podcast available for viewing at Kelby TV – Photoshop User TV. This programme is presented typically by 3 of the trainers form Kelby Training. It covers tricks and tips in using Photoshop and occasionally Lightroom. Each show lasts around 20 minutes and it is published about every 10 days. It is presented in a light hearted manner and is worth watching. A prize is usually awarded to the best comment left about the show on the website.

Lightroom Killer Tips is a podcast available for viewing at Kelby TV – Lightroom Killer Tips. This programme is presented by Matt Kloskowski. It is purely a tutorial show for Lightroom users. Each episode lasts typically 10 minutes and covers an aspect of Lightroom that you may not have thought about.

This is a must watch show for any user of Lightroom.

 Posted by at 1:49 pm
Sep 182011

I recently bought this book from Amazon for £17 and it was worth every penny. It is written by Matt Kloskowski who works for Kelby Media who run the National Association of Photoshop Professionals  amongst other things Photoshop. Matt has written several other books on Photoshop and Lightroom that I have and I like his style of writing. It is clear but sometimes a little repetitive.

The books starts with a long chapter about compositing (combining 2 or more images to make one new one) and includes the url of where all the photos, used in each of the following chapters, can be downloaded from. The book then has 15 chapters with each detailing the necessary steps to create different sorts of composite images. One excellent thing is that Matt covers the lighting he used of the subject and the background for each of the composites to ensure that the images look realistic. This book is intended for users of Photoshop CS5 as it makes full use of the updated refine edge feature found in this version.

Matt shoots each of his images in RAW and first edits them in Adobe Camera RAW before loading them in to Photoshop CS5 as smart objects. I must admit that I knew CS5 had smart objects but wasn’t aware of the value of them until seeing how Matt uses them in this book. I must admit that generally I use Lightroom for my photo editing but if I do use Photoshop I will ensure that I open the RAW images as smart objects in future.

All in all this is an excellent book and will make a good addition for any photo editors library. I certainly learnt a few things from it and it has encouraged me to shoot more composites in the future.


 Posted by at 11:02 am