Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Crossroads Gallery, Tehachapi

Starting today, I have a semi-permanent exhibit at the Crossroads Gallery in Tehachapi, California. I had some photographs in a temporary exhibit at this gallery in both December and January.

If you are in the area, check it out! Let me know what you think.

On a different note, I was asked why I'm no longer (as of tomorrow) doing the Photo Of The Day. Instead, I'm now doing Photograph Of The Week, which is similar, but much less frequent.

To post a photograph daily takes a lot of time and effort. To meet the demand, sometimes I posted images that I really didn't want to. So by posting weekly instead of daily, the photographs should be a little higher quality. Also, Photo Of The Day took attention away from other aspects of this Blog, and I'd like to give those things the time they deserve.

Overall, I think this change will be positive.

Stay tuned!

Caliente, California

This last Saturday (February 25), my wife, kids and I loaded up in the car and took a brief afternoon drive through Caliente, California. This area is beautiful and historic, yet most people are completely unaware of its existence.

I would love to dedicate much more time to capturing Caliente and the surrounding area. Perhaps later this year I will have time to do so.

I did not have my DSLR with me, since it is still down after a recent trip to Morro Bay. I used a Nikon S8100 and my camera phone to make the photographs in this post. While I used the Nikon a lot more than the cell phone, I preferred the images from the phone just a little more than those from the Nikon. I won't tell you which ones are which. You can probably figure out some of them, others will be more difficult.

Some advice that you may find is to put your camera away during the middle of the day. While it is true that the best light can typically be found near sunrise and sunset, quality light can be found at any time if you look for it. All of these photographs were taken between 1:30 pm and 3:45 pm.
Union Pacific In Caliente - Caliente, California
Green Barn And Red - Caliente, California
Dotted Hills - Caliente, California
Windmill, Shed - Caliente, California
Color Swap Road - Caliente, California
Reflection Creek - Caliente, California 
Orange Reflection - Caliente, California
Rippled Water - Caliente, California
Leaves In Water - Caliente, California (click here for a larger version)
Small Waterfall - Caliente, California
Tree, Brush, Hill - Caliente, California
Lit Tree In Canyon - Caliente, California
Green Moss, Orange And Blue Water - Caliente, California
Moss In Creek - Caliente, California
Moss And Grass In Water - Caliente, California
Moss Island - Caliente, California
Orange Reflected - Caliente, California
Face In The Moss - Caliente, California (Click here for larger version).
Small Creek #1 - Caliente, California
Small Creek #2 - Caliente, California
Reflection And Moss - Caliente, California
Rock Cliff - Caliente, California
Early Wildflowers - Bealville, California
Early Spring - Bealville, California
Grass Hills - Bealville, California
Tejon - Bealville, California

Photo Of The Day - Wednesday, January 29, 2012

Face In The Moss - Caliente, California
Taken on 2/25/2012 at 3:20 pm.
Shutter 1/87, f3.9, ISO 160, Nikon S8100, 50mm (equivalent).
This concludes the Photo Of The Day series. Stay tuned for the upcoming Photograph Of The Week.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo Of The Day - Tuesday, January 28, 2012

Leaves In Water - Caliente, California
Taken on 2/25/2012 at 2:46 pm.
Shutter 1/48, f4.6, ISO 160, Nikon S8100, 175mm (equivalent).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Street Photography Do's and Don'ts

This is a high quality video about street photography. While much of it is fluff, there is some good information and tips mixed in with some humor.

At the very least it is entertaining.

Thought Of The Day: Canon G1-X Now Available

For those considering a Fuji X100 but think the $1,200 price-tag is a bit steep, the Canon G1-X is no longer a coming-soon product, and is now available.

I already talked about these two cameras, and it's not real clear which one is better. They both have advantages and disadvantages.

The X100, for example, has a better sensor, very little digital noise in high ISOs, a larger maximum aperture, and exceptional built-in software. The G1-X, for example, has more megapixels, adjustable focal length, and costs $400 less.

It's difficult to say which camera is better. Which camera you choose may depend on what you will be photographing. If you will be using the camera in low-light situations, the X100 is the clear winner. If you are photographing people, the X100 does a better job rendering accurate skin tones. Outside of that, the G1-X seems like the better choice. If you are on a tight budget, the G1-X is the obvious choice.

I don't think you can go wrong with either camera--they're both very good products. I'm curious if Fuji will lower the price of the X100 by one or two hundred dollars over the coming months to better compete with the G1-X.

Photo Of The Day - Monday, February 27, 2012

Wire Fence - Tehachapi, California
Taken on 2/22/2012 at approximately 3:20 pm.
Shutter and aperture unknown, ISO 100, Samsung Galaxy S camera phone.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Sony NEX-7 or Nikon D800?

Someone asked me which camera they should buy, the Sony NEX-7 or the Nikon D800?

The two cameras are much different. The Sony NEX-7 is a pocket camera that has 24 megapixels on an APS-C sized sensor. The D800 is a DSLR camera that has 36 megapixels on a full-frame sensor. The Sony NEX-7 retails for $1,350 with a lens, while the Nikon D800 retails for $3,000 for the body only.

Both cameras have more resolution than 99.5% of photographers need, but the D800 does have more resolution than the NEX-7. Both cameras produce quality, sharp images and can be used to craft great photographs (as all cameras can).

The NEX-7 cost significantly less and that might be a reason to choose it. After purchasing a lens for the D800, your grand total could be over $4,000 (depending on the lens you buy). That's three times more than the cost of the NEX-7, and the D800 is not three times better of a camera.

If money is not an issue, the D800 is the better camera. Aside from medium-format, which will cost at least ten grand, the D800 is the best digital camera one can buy. If you simply want to buy the best camera you can, the D800 is that choice.

But buying this camera won't make you a better photographer.

If you already have a Nikon system, you might want to stick with a Nikon DSLR so you can use the lenses you already have. That's certainly a legitimate reason to choose the D800.

If you are a portrait or wedding photographer, your clients will make judgements on how good of a photographer you are based on the equipment you have. This judgement is based on false assumptions, but it is still there. The D800 would be the better choice for you (even though the NEX-7 would be just fine for portraits and weddings).

The NEX-7 is more fun. Any camera that fits in your pocket is a blast compared to a bulky DSLR system. If you were to purchase both cameras, you would find yourself grabbing the NEX-7 for everything except work that someone is paying you for (and even then you might still grab the NEX-7).

Finally, if you are (or would like to be) a street photographer, you'd stand out with a D800 in front of your face. You'd blend in a little better with the NEX-7, and that could be the difference in getting "the shot" or not.

The Sony NEX-7 and the Nikon D800 are both great cameras and great choices--you can't go wrong with either. Whichever camera you decide you won't be disappointed with. My advice is to not worry so much about it. Whichever one draws at you a little more, choose that camera.

Photo Of The Day - Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flowering Red - Palmdale, California
Taken on 2/22/2012 at approximately 2:25 pm.
Shutter and aperture unknown, ISO 200, Samsung Galaxy S camera phone.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Photo Of The Day - Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seed Protector - Palmdale, California
Taken on 2/22/2012 at approximately 2:25 pm.
Shutter and aperture unknown, ISO 200, Samsung Galaxy S camera phone.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Phoneography, Part 2: Apps

Overcoming Adversity - Palmdale, California
I want to first mention that it does not matter what camera phone you have. I have had several people tell me something like, "Well, my phone is simply not capable of taking good pictures." Nonsense! Check out this photograph:
Sadness - Bodfish, California
The above photograph was taken with a VGA (0.3 megapixel) "toy" camera--by a four-year-old! While less than one megapixel is not close to ideal, even it can be used to craft great photographs. 
Dry Red Rose - Tehachapi, California
So no matter how old or cheap your cell phone may be, just as long as it has a built-in camera, you have the tools you need to be a phoneographer.
Bench Leg - Tehachapi, California
Ideally, you want a sensor with at least five megapixels, but if your camera phone only has 3.2 or even 2 megapixels, you can still be a phoneographer, no problem. Some new cell phones have 8 megapixels.
Train At Monolith - Tehachapi, California
OK, now on to applications (or apps). This part is somewhat dry, but hang in there. At least there are plenty of photographs for you to enjoy.
Evening Fence - Tehachapi, California
I have a Droid phone (a Samsung Galaxy S), so I cannot comment on apps for Apple or other types. Some apps have versions for both Droid and Apple, so even if you have an iPhone, what I say may still apply. Also, I have only used free apps. The ones that cost money might be just as good or better, but it didn't make sense to spend money on something when everything I need can be had for free.
Broken Wood - Tehachapi, California
After playing around with the phone and different apps for two weeks, I have found what works for me and what doesn't.
Sunrise Tracks - Lancaster, California
My favorite app is Pixlr-O-Matic, which is quick, easy to use and produces good results. Because the fun of phoneography is that you can take the photograph, post-process and share the image within moments, an app like Pixlr-O-Matic is essential.
Ghost Light - Palmdale, California
This is an image of a brick wall at night. The wavy light was an effect added in post processing.
The way it works is that there are three categories of pre-made effects. The first category has 25 pre-set contrast, color saturation and tone adjustments (among other things). The second category has 30 artifacts and vignettes that you can overlay on your image. The third category has 30 borders that you can put around your photograph.
Cracked Paint - Palmdale, California
You can only pick one effect from each catagory. However, if you save the image and open it back up, you can select another effect from each catagory. I've done that with a few photographs, but most don't require that level of adjustments.
Chain Link And Stone - Tehachapi, California
Pixlr-O-Matic works great for 75% of my phoneographs, but it doesn't offer enough control for some images. Thankfully, an app simply title Photo Editor gives me the control that I need.
Picket Fence, Stucco Wall - Tehachapi, California
Photo Editor has slider bars to adjust hue, color saturation, contrast, brightness and sharpness. Even more, you can mess with the red, green and blue color curves with this app. You have complete control over your images.
Mimi's Cafe - Bakersfield, California
I use Photo Editor as a stand-alone app and also to make minor adjustments to some images post-processed with Pixlr-O-Matic. Between the two, I have everything I need to create "professional-looking" photographs (as in, no one will know that I used a cell phone unless I told them).
Joshua Tree Sunrise #2 - Rosamond, California
Another app worth having is PicsArt. In some ways, it is like having Pixlr-O-Matic and Photo Editor combined into one. However, this app does have one large flaw: it downsizes the file by half when saved. That could be the difference between an image being enlarged to an 8" x 10" (or 8" x 12") print or only a 5" x 7" print. It depends on the image.
Cracked Circles - Palmdale, California
I used PiscArt to turn an uninteresting image of a manhole cover into abstract art. 
PicsArt does have some interesting effects that will allow you to create some images that you can't create using Pixlr-O-Matic and Photo Editor. Sometimes it is worth the downsized file in order to create a certain image. Even if you rarely use this app, it is worth having available.
Head First - Tehachapi, California
Adobe Photoshop Express reduces file sizes by 75%, which really is too much for it to be useful. I don't recommend this app, but it does have a couple useful features and I have had some good results with it. You can give it a try and decide for yourself--afterall, it is free.
Evacuation Assistance - Palmdale, California
I used Pudding Camera and Pixlr-O-Matic for this image.
Some other apps I tried are Color Splash, Photo Art, LittlePhoto, Color Touch and Pudding Camera. I wasn't impressed with any of them, but they are free so there is no harm giving them a test drive.
Lines And Train - Tehachapi, California
Check out these phoneographs: 2011 iPhone Photography Contest Winners. If you have an iPhone (instead of a Droid phone like me), you can enter their 2012 contest.
Mojave Sunrise - Rosamond, California