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Category Archives: Camera Tips

Technology Threatens Camera Manufacturers

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Joe Murphy Lens Adapters

Joe Murphy’s 3D printed lens adapters

I found an interesting article today. Photographer Joe Murphy has manufactured his own tilt-shift lens adapter using a 3D printer. I paid over $2,000 for my Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens. I doubt I would have done that if I were able to do what Joe Murphy did. Add to that, the designs are available for anyone to download and use for free.

This brings up issues I was discussing with a friend a few weeks back. 3D printing is very expensive now. When home printers first came into being, they were expensive too. It didn’t take long before the prices dropped to an affordable level. This will happen with 3D printers as well.

What does this mean? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the average person will be able to manufacture equipment at home for a fraction of the cost of buying it from a large company. I can see this happening with all sorts of things: table ware such as plates and utensils, car parts, belts, and even camera equipment. Imagine you have the misfortune of breaking a piece of your expensive camera lens. No worries, just print a replacement part. Need to add a bottle holder for your gear bag? Whip one out in a flash and add it on. The possibilities are endless.

What’s the bad news?  Camera companies may lose sales because anyone will be able to copy their designs and print them out. Manufacturing jobs may shrink due to lost sales. Granted, the size of printing is limited to the size of the 3D printer, and the material may not be a good as that used by say, Canon, but technology will catch up in that regard too. The future looks quite intriguing.

Camera Fun In The Grand Tetons

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The Grand Tetons photographed near Jenny Lake

Hello Friends and Bloggers,

I have been quiet for a while because I am teaching an intensive landscape workshop in the Grand Tetons this week. It is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. The students and I wake up early, sometimes by 4:15 a.m. to get to the best sunrise locations. The Tetons face east, so the best light is in the mornings. We shoot all day, taking a lunch break to eat and download images. Then we hit the road again for early evening shoots when the shadows are long and the light is clear. We are tired at the end of the day, but satisfied with our shots, so it is all worth it.

A photo my student, Preston Smith,  took that was terribly overexposed. I saved it with great imaging software manipulations.

The original overexposed image.

This year I am adding video and special effects to the workshop. We made our own pinhole cameras and the students got some unusual shots with them. We are using specialized photo software programs to make the images really special.

Schwabacher Landing, The Grand Tetons Workshop 2012

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching the workshop. I will be sad to leave this place that is a gift to humans and animals alike. But I will be back again next year. I hope you can join me.

A view of one of the Mormon Barns through the aspen trees. Late afternoon, Grand Tetons, WY.

My favorite outhouse, The Grand Tetons, WY.

Grand Tetons Photography Workshop

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Hello Friends and Photographers,

Schawbacher Landing, Grand Tetons, by Gina Genis

I only have 2 spaces open for my in-the-field Grand Tetons Photography Workshop from June 25 – 29th. The Grand Tetons are one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places on earth. Join us for 5 days of intensive fun, learning, and extraordinary photographs. You will discover rivers, waterfalls, abandoned buildings, wildlife, wildflowers, lakes, and much more. I cannot describe to you how amazing this experience is. Hone your skills while enjoying the fresh air of mountains. Experience freedom with a camera.

Snake River, the Grand Tetons, Wyoming

How to Get Great Macro Images of Glass

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Macro photograph of a glass perfume bottle, marble, and pebble

Hi Friends, Bloggers, and Photographers,

My glass macro photography receives a lot of positive comments. Several images sold to the Hard Rock Casino for display in their cafe. Most people ask how I get the clean, vibrant shots. This is a great motivator to put together the video tutorials I am frequently requested to do. The inaugural video is now complete and shows you how I get these macro shots. Click here to watch the video on You Tube.

Glass marble photographed with a macro lens

I hate being inside on a beautiful day, so most of the video is shot outdoors with birds and trees sharing my stage. I hope you enjoy the informal style and gain some tips and inspiration about macro photography.

Extreme photo close up of a glass marble

After you take a macro image, have a little fun. Put it together like a puzzle and get something that looks like this:

A macro photograph turned into repetition pattern

A macro photograph turned into repetition pattern

If this has inspired you, consider taking my online Macro Photography Course at The Compelling Image. It is four weeks of guided instruction, and I give you detailed critiques once a week. I’d love to see you macro photos.

The Magic Of The Forest – Idyllwild, California

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A Walk In The Clouds - a thick cloud layer rolls up against the San Jacinto Mountains

Loyal bloggers and faithful followers,

You might remember my post from August 1, 2011, titled My Working Vacation. It describes the wonderfully quirky town of Idyllwild, California. I am again enjoying this place in the mountains for 10 peaceful days. It is rare that I am able to rip myself away from the demands and obligations of city life for such a long stretch of time.

Mother Nature presented three gifts to me yesterday, April 23, 2012, and I will share them with you.

I drove from the ocean, where it was gray and drizzling, to an elevation of 6,500 feet in the San Jacinto mountains. Once I punched through the clouds, the weather was spectacular. Temperatures in the high 70’s, clear, with just a whiff of a stray cloud here and there. I spent the day visiting friends then started back to my cabin in the woods. As I rounded a hairpin turn on Highway 243, a rare vision compelled me to stop and photograph the scene. A cloud bank rolled in below, and stalled as it hit the mountains. It just hovered there, like a white cotton candy carpet. I felt as if I could step off the mountain side and walk on the clouds. A scene to remember.

I teach a landscape and nature workshop in Idyllwild in June. I like to scout out places to take my students. I decided to check out how much water was flowing from my favorite waterfall. The weather was too sunny to get any good shots, but I took my camera anyway. Maybe get some flower photos, I thought. Just as I arrived at the path to the waterfall, Mother Nature smiled on me again. The cloud bank rolled overhead, providing some moody fog and shady weather that is perfect for photographing the waterfall.

Path along the creek to the waterfall

Detail of waterfall


Waterfall in Idyllwild

I spent about 2 hours shooting the forest path, creek, and waterfall. I felt I had some nice shots to put on my website for the workshop. Once I packed up and started the hike back to my car, Mother Nature again showed her kindness by blowing away the cloud bank and returning the sunny, warm weather. I spent the evening enjoying the sounds of woodpeckers and squirrels on my deck in the wilderness.

The magic of this mountain never ceases. Each day is a different gift. These are the presents I treasure more than the kind money buys. I don’t even remember what I got for my birthday last year, but I will remember this day forever.

If you would like to photograph Idyllwild with me, consider taking my workshop on June 2 & 3, 2012.




Quick Camera Tip #1: Using Your Camera’s Level Guide

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Example of an electronic level on a Canon PowerShot G1X

There are many times you need to have a shot exactly level. For instance, architectural shots or landscapes with a defined horizon line. Eyeballing is not very accurate.

How many times have you been excited to take some wonderful shots only to view them in your computer and finding they are off-balance? No problem, you may say, I’ll fix it in PhotoShop. Well, sure that can be done, but if you are like me and carefully compose your images, the PhotoShop fix will force you to cut off much of your image. You might lose an important element such as the person in the corner of the shot that anchored the whole image.

There’s a simple tool that guarantees you a perfectly level shot and it is very easy to use. If you own a newer model digital camera, you most likely have a built-in electronic level. You can use them when you hand hold your camera, or when placed on a tripod. All you have to do is line up the moving marker to the center point on your level bar.

Each camera has a different way to get to the electronic level. Look in your owner’s manual to find it and have it show up while you are shooting.

New Generation Canon PowerShot G1X Camera

Camera lovers, I have some exciting news for you. Canon has released the new PowerShot G1X camera. It is completely redesigned from its predecessor, the PowerShot G12. I am happy that the G1X has kept a ton of manual controls. I am a photographer who uses them constantly for creative freedom. Here’s a quick run down of the improved features:

14MP 1.5″ CMOS sensor, 28-112mm F2.8-5.8 lens, Optical viewfinder, ISO 100-12,800, 3.0″ swivelling LCD, 14-bit Raw shooting, 4.5fps continuous shooting, 1929 x 1080p full HD Video in stereo sound.

There are times that it is impractical to travel with my bulky DSLR and heavy lenses. I see the G1X as a suitable substitute. I  received mine on March 5, and stayed up until 2:30 a.m. setting it up and making test shots. I can report it is a HUGE improvement over the PowerShot G12. Miles superior in low light conditions and clarity of images. I can hand hold it at much slower shutter speeds than the G12.

Take a look at the test shots and video below. Keep in mind my test shots are not attempting to be beautiful. Quite the opposite; I purposely pick bad lighting conditions to see just what a camera can handle. The photograph below was taken with Pattern Metering. No flash was used, and there was no HDR in post processing. I am pleased with the way the G1X reads the extreme lighting contrasts. This image was taken hand-held with an aperture of f13, at 1/10 sec, ISO of 400. Note I said hand-held. There is no way I could have hand-held the PowerShot G12 at 1/10 sec. The f13 aperture kept detail from front to back sharp. A note – all images were uploaded in 72 dpi, for web sharing, so unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the high res quality.

Unedited Canon PowerShot G1X test shot with pattern meter mode

The next photo was taken at the height of the day. Terrible lighting conditions from straight up above. The G1X came through once again. I used the built-in ND filter to block out some light. I expected the sky to look more washed out, but the G1X captured the pale blue just fine. Aperture Priority of f16 hand-held at 1/30 sec, ISO at 100. The front-to-back sharpness is quite good. Once again, there is absolutely no editing. This is exactly what the camera can do on its own. Keep in mind that you can use any of the wonderful color booster settings in JPG mode to give a punch to your images, but for this shot,  I wanted to see how the camera does without any of the extra settings.

Unedited Canon PowerShot G1X unedited test shot of very bright light on a landscape.

Below is a shot along the same creek, but taken late in the day with better lighting conditions. I used the camera’s Vivid color mode to boost the saturation. Aperture was at f11 with a shutter speed of 1/125 sec, ISO 400. You can see the punch it gave the greens and added a bit of warm tone to the dirt.

Unedited Canon G1X test shot using camera’s Vivid color mode

The next image displays how great the PowerShot G1X is in low light conditions. I tried this kind of shot many times with a PowerShot G12, and it just couldn’t make an image without a lot of noise and needing a tripod. The PowerShot G1X has no problem getting a clear shot in very dim light. This room was completely dark except for the light from the TV. I used Program mode that set itself to f4.5, at 1/60 sec. ISO was at 400. I used the pop up flash and set the flash exposure compensation to -2. The camera was hand-held. The resulting shot is clear and noise free.

Unedited Canon PowerShot G1X test shot of low light conditions

Next is an example of the accurate color you can get with the G1X’s White Balance settings. I took this shot in a horribly lit shower stall at a public pool. I used the Tungsten white balance setting, and you can see the clean whites & cool grays of the tiles, and vivid oranges in the swim suit. Shot hand-held with an Aperture of f2.8, at 1/40 sec, ISO 400. I am very happy with the white balance results in the PowerShot G1X.

Canon PowerShot G1X test shot using Tungsten white balance

Click here to see a short G1X test video on YouTube. This video was shot using the video setting mode, and no other adjustments. It is as if you handed the camera to your 6 year old. The results are nice considering I did absolutely nothing to enhance the video. Imagine what you can do when you utilize the advanced settings. The sound is better than expected. You can hear the whistling sound of the strong wind in places. After making this video, I added the furry gray Windjammers over the mic holes, and it stopped the whistling.

Now click here to see a video of my layover in the Atlanta Airport after editing images and using iMovie to put it together. This is a more advanced result.

If you are into nature photos and videos, click here to view a video that includes stills as well as video. This also, is a more advanced result after editing images and using iMovie.

I must say, carrying this compact beauty around was a pleasant experience compared to the heavy DSLR I normally have breaking my back. I walked 4 miles without even noticing I had a camera with me until I aimed it at a subject.

Check out the Powershot G1X and see if it is right for you. If so, here’s a link to order yours. For your information, I also ordered the following items for my G1X kit:

Extra Battery – highly recommended, as I found the battery life when using video is less that I expected.

Flash – although the pop up flash is adequate in certain circumstances, I find a hot shoe mounted flash gives much better results. This one is small and lightweight.

16 gig SDHC Card – You will need at least 16 gigs of a fast writing card for all of the photos and videos you will be taking.

Wireless Shutter Release – I use this wireless shutter release a lot. I like it because operates with radio frequency (RF), so you don’t have to have a direct line of sight. Radio waves pass through objects such as windows and walls. Be aware that there is a bit of lag time with this release, though.

Travel Tripod – This tripod is essential for travel or hiking. Very light, and folds up to fit inside a carry-on suitcase. It is designed to use for still and video. Important feature for those of us who want to shoot both without having to have two ballheads. Keep in mind this is an inexpensive tripod. It is not as sturdy or constructed as heartily as an expensive one. I recommend it for times you do not want to carry your heavy, sturdy tripod with you.

Audio Windjammers – These cut down the wind noise when you are shooting video. I shoot outdoors a lot. When it is windy, the whistling sound of the wind going into the camera’s microphone is annoying when you watch the video. Windjammers stop that sound.

Card Reader – I like this card reader to transfer my images to my computer. It reads any type of memory card out there. You don’t need to use up your camera’s battery with the USB cord if you use this card reader.

There are two things I would like to see changed. First, the battery/SD card slot is on the bottom of the camera. I use my G1X on a tripod quite often. When I need to change the battery or SD card, I have to take it off the tripod, unscrew the tripod plate, change the card or battery, screw the plate back on, then put the camera back on the tripod. Kind of a pain in the neck. Second, it would be nice if Canon bumped up the volume control play back feature for video. Sometimes I need to check what I just shot to see if there is undesired noise, like an airplane flying overhead or a car alarm going off. The volume is too low in play back mode when you are outdoors with other noises around you.

An in-depth review and lab test can be seen at Popular Photography by clicking this link.

The price is $699 USD.

Thanks for reading this review, and keep your shutter clicking.

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