March 5th, 2012 § § permalink
Gray cards are an important tool in a photographers arsenal. They serve two purposes:
2. White Balance
Ansel Adams helped develop the Zone System that consists of 10 stops of light from black to white. (You can google the Zone System for more information) Zone 5 is considered middle gray or 18% gray. Since cameras (as of yet) can only capture half the zones in an image, the photographer has to choose which zones that would give the best exposure.
Cameras and Light Meters (reflective) are programmed to meter a scene at 18% Gray, but not every scene or object has a gray to meter. The camera or light meter will try to give an approximate reading, but it can often be incorrect. The best choice in this scenario is to spot meter a gray card that is reflecting the light back at the camera or light meter.
How do you use it? Let us use the image above as an example. I set a bowl against a dark background and had it sit under a 100 watt shop light using my iPhone camera. As you can see, my iPhone auto exposed the scene and blew out the bowl since the scene was mostly dark. The meters will lighten a dark scene and darken a light scene.
Start by placing the card in front of your subject. The light reflecting off the card will give a true reading of middle gray, and the photographer can choose the exposure needed.
I selected the X on the card, with my iPhone, because the focus requires contrasting elements to lock on to, and it was also one of the lightest parts of the card. A slr camera and light meter is different. The spot meter is aimed at the gray for a reading, and the photographer can focus on the X or remove the card and focus on the object.
Remove the card, and start taking pictures. You may need to adjust the card for better readings, but for the most part, your exposure should be correct.
As for the white balance, the gray card has also changed the color temperature to make the colors true. Tungsten, fluorescent, LED, sun, moon, and other types of light have their own color temperatures that can change the look of an image. White balance is different with each camera, so refer to your owners manual for more information.
Give the gray card a try, and you will be amazed at the differences that are made to you’re images.
March 3rd, 2012 § § permalink
Shadows are a blessing and a curse in photography. A good photographer will use them to their advantage.
Camera – iPhone 3GS
Capture App – Native Camera
January 26th, 2012 § § permalink
‘The Photographers Best Friend’ is a bold statement to make, but you may find some truth to it when this post is complete.
What am I talking about? The gray card. In 1999, I took a photography class in college. It was an introductory to photography course that took us into the darkroom where we used film and developed out images. Besides the film and camera, we were required to purchase a set of gray cards, and believe me, they were not cheap.
There were two 8×10 and one 4×5 cards in the set, but over the years I have lost both 8×10 cards. The camera I used in the class was the AE-1 Program camera, and it had a decent light meter built into the camera. In order to get the correct exposure reading, you needed to fill the frame with the gray card, but today’s cameras have the spot metering option which I use primarily.
Lets look at a couple reasons of why you need a gray card. First, our cameras are programmed to meter a scene at 18% or middle gray, but not every scene is balanced enough, between the highlights and the shadows, to capture the correct exposure. Second, each and every scene has a light source that gives off a different color balance that can effect the lighting of the image.
The gray card is rated at 18% or middle gray, and our cameras have a reflective metering system. So, with the correct metering, we can establish the correct exposure for or subject or scene.
Here is how you use the gray card:
Place the card in front of your subject or scene so the light reflects back towards your camera. Do you notice how the camera exposes the background and blows out the cards?
Select the area of the gray card until the correct exposure is obtained. As you can see, the background darkens and the cards have been exposed correctly.
Let me give you an example using a model car on my couch.
As we saw with the first image, the background has blown out the subject because it is dark, but as you will see below, we can correct the exposure with the gray card.
The background has darkened, and it will not distract you from the subject. After you have locked down the correct exposure, you can capture a series of images without having to meter with a gray card every time, but if you make any adjustments, it would be smart to re-meter the scene.
Here is a last thought on this subject. Without the gray card, you can select an area the would be considered 18% gray, and you would be able to capture a great image. I will select the pavement when I’m shooting cars or the grass for landscapes. Depending on the conditions I will usually need to make corrections in post.
Try this out for yourself, and you will be amazed on how your images will improve.
October 23rd, 2011 § § permalink
We went camping this weekend on our friends property, and we had a blast. The evening started with everyone showing up, setting up, and eating dinner.
I was asked to bring my camera, and this gave me a good opportunity to play with my flash. My camera (canon 30d) is terrible in low light conditions, but it is otherwise a great camera. I brought two cheap flash units, two tripods, and a radio trigger. I ended up using only one flash, but they had a slave mode in case I used both.
Another thing I tried was makeshift defusers. The flash units are adjustable by moving them back and forth, so I took some bubble wrap and taped them to the units.
This is an image of my wife and son sitting in front of the fire. The flash unit is on a tripod about 20-25 feet to the left. I think it turned out alright, and I definitely need more practice.
One day I want to use another flash unit. But, in the mean time. One will do.
September 20th, 2011 § § permalink
Instagram 2.0 is out! I downloaded the new version today, and there are some things I really like and others that I have to think about.
First off, the things I like. Borders – The borders option is a huge plus. I refused to use certain filters because of their border, but now there is an option to turn it off.
New Filters – I am glad to see that there are more filters to choose, but I cannot give two thumbs up just yet (I’ll explain later).
Black & White Filter – Thank God they changed it! The old filter was good if you had no other option, and here is why. The filter was harsh to skin tones and reds. Eyes would darken and give a sick or sinister look to the person, and red cars would turn white. Now we have a true black and white filter. Off hand it looks comparable to my favorite editing app, Snapseed. We will see.
Image Rotation – I think this is an excellent addition to the editing process. It was frustrating when an image used was sideways. Correcting it meant taking it into another app.
Now for the things that did not excite me.
The filters (except b&w) – I think all the filters have been reengineered. They do not have stark changes between the original and altered images. It could be my eyes, but I don’t think so. I used an image to test from this morning, and I tested the 2.0 version. I can see some subtle changes, so the jury is still out.
Filter Toggle – It’s still new, but it was annoying me. I did not like the filters changing the image every time I moved the carousel. I did notice you could press a filter to move them, but it was still frustrating. Not Saving Images – Instagram 2.0 does not save the images to my picture folder! I like having that option. I have to jump through hoops if my wife wants to post an actual image to Facebook and use it as a profile picture. What happens if (God Forbid) Instagram ceases to exist or my account gets deleted? What will happen to all my images? I think they need to rethink that change. (*The images I tested did not save, but the follow up images did. Check your Instagram in Settings on you iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and make sure your options are correct.)
Overall I think there are good changes to Instagram. Most issues will probably be forgotten, but there will be many who will complain. I hope there is not too much of a noticeable difference between first and second generation images. I wonder if they would bring back the first generation filters as an option? Till then we will see.
If you want to follow me on Instagram, my handle is @josephferreira
September 5th, 2011 § § permalink
I started going through some of my old images from two of my first digital cameras and my 35mm film to upload to Instagram and Google+.
The first digital camera was a camera/webcam that had no view screen to see the images, but I was use to that with 35mm.
A few years later we were given a 4 mega pixel Kodak point and shoot camera which we used quite a bit. I have recently gone through and posted them on Instagram, and they look great!
We get so wrapped up in mega pixels and glass that we forget that there are great images that have been lost or put away because they came from ‘inferior cameras’.
The truth is that the camera cannot take great images by themselves, and photographers are not limited by their equipment as much as they think they are. The myth that better equipment makes better images will frustrate many people. The greatest photographers from history created works of art from inferior equipment by our standards.
I think there are many photographers who need to put down their DSLRs and pick up a 3 or 4 mega pixel camera. Are you up for the challenge? I am.
If you want to follow my journey with my iPhone and point & shoot images, you can follow me on Instagram or twitter.
Instagram: @josephferreira Twitter: @ferreirajoseph
August 14th, 2011 § § permalink
High Dynamic Range (HDR) combines multiple images, of the same subject, into one to create an image that simulates what the human eye sees.
A Single Image HDR takes enhanced images from a single image and combines them for a HDR image.
I took pictures at a car show Saturday. It was overcast which turned the sky into a giant softbox. The image below of this old Hudson was taken with my iPhone. It is not a bad image, but it is lacking some depth.
I loaded the image info an iPhone app called Dynamic Light, and it created the HDR image below. This is still a great image, but HDR can give a cartoonish look to an image.
Another application I use is called Pro HDR. I combined the image above with the original one. By adjusting the levels, I created a base image (below) that will be darker than the HDR image.
Dark images have details light images do not and via versa. With Pro HDR, I combined the HDR image with the base image to add a little more realistic look to the image.
There may not be a whole lot of change, but all I wanted to do is add clarity and realism to the image.
Give Dynamic Light and Pro HDR a try, and you will find average images come to life.
August 8th, 2011 § § permalink
For years I avoided Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. But first, let’s go back 12-15 years to when I avoided email, pagers, and cellphones.
When I was in high school, in the mid 90′s, pagers were very popular. Cellphones were in existence, but they were typically used by doctors and others who could afford that technology. Pagers were the cellular of the masses.
I remember everyone, my age, jumping onto the pager bandwagon, and I tried to avoid it. My parents forced me to carry one because I started working and they needed a way to get ahold of me. Pager code was a popular way of communicating (an art form in itself), and it birthed text messaging. People were finding new and easier ways to communicate, and today we can thank them for the innovations we have.
Why did I usually avoid these innovations? Mostly because I did not understand nor value them. Email was one of those innovations. Most people I knew did not have email, so why should I have one? Would it not be easier to pick up the phone and call them?
Today, I have more email addresses than I really want, and I would not know what to do if I did not have them. I find myself still avoiding trends that pop up mainly because I have not found the value that will benefit me and my time.
This year I got a Twitter account, but I was unsure on how to use it. I did not want to be like many who would broadcast every waking moment of their lives (simply because I did not care – example: what they were eating and what their stool looked like afterwards), so I decided to limit it to photography.
I first started searching for photographers who’s podcasts I followed. I would read their articles and thoughts, and if I thought they were good, I would retweet them. If they asked questions, I would try and participate. This is a great way to learn from the best and enter into their community.
The second thing I did was find a way to contribute to twitter. Many people tweet or retweet interesting articles, blogs, and tips, but I wanted to be original, not a Johnny-Come-Lately. I search articles (about 600-800) all day long for content that I am interested in, and what I think others would be interested in also. The title needs to catch my attention first before I read it, and if it is worthy I will tweet it.
My latest step is to create my own content. As I learn and participate, I find it easier to contribute. I do not want my feed to be The-Stool-Sampling-Broadcast, but I do want to have valuable news, tips, and information. And, hopefully I will find new innovations to avoid and talk about.
July 10th, 2011 § § permalink
My blog gets spammed all the time, so I approve the comments before they are posted. Here are some simple tips to avoid being spammed or hacked, but first, let’s define what spamming and hacking is.
Spam is a term that is used to describe unsolicited email or comments. They are used to distribute hyperlinks of whatever they are selling or promoting to a large number of emails.
Hack is a term that is used to describe the action of someone or something that is trying to illegally break into a secured computer or account. The purpose is to steal personal information to sell, and or use the contact information to perpetuate the process throughout the contact list on the computer.
Hacking is very different than spamming because spam is usually not as destructive. Spam can be the vehicle that delivers the hacking software, but most are links to pharmaceutical or health products.
Who is being affected? Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Email, and other social media users. Let’s look at these for a minute.
I have seen many of my friends get hacked in their Facebook and email accounts. Facebook messages will be addressed to you as if they were specifically written for you, but you may not have spoken to your friend in a while and it seems out of the blue. The message will also seem a little too enthusiastic as if to try and catch you off guard.
Email is another medium that has been hacked. The symptoms usually include (no subject) in the subject line and one sentence accompanied by a hyperlink.
How do you avoid being hacked? Don’t click on links you are not familiar with! Before you click, (Facebook) check the senders wall. Did they only address you or did they send the same link to everyone on the planet?
If you are the victim (sender) of a hacker, the first thing you should do is change your login (if applicable) and password. The hacker has used that information to access your address book to spam others. The last option is to close the account.
Twitter and blogs are a little different. Twitter does not have email addresses that are hidden from view. Followers and those you follow are public knowledge. Most blogs do not have email lists contained in them unless they are sharing a database with a list messenger service.
I receive spam messages to my Twitter and blog accounts daily. You can view my Twitter messages (@ferreirajoseph) by searching the @ sign. The senders usually has no one following them and they are not following anyone. Their accounts are usually a couple hours old, and they already have sent hundreds of messages.
Most of what I am telling you is coming from experience. I personally have not been hacked, but I did have to clean up an account, that I was managing, who had. Use these simple suggestions and you can avoid being spammed and hacked.
July 2nd, 2011 § § permalink
We took our daughter to the newly renovated Comporium Telephone Museum in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I work for Comporium, and I am proud to be a part of a company that gives back to it’s community.
My children will not know a day were the only form of telecommunications was a corded phone or payphone. I grew up with touchtone and rotary phones, but now my children have cordless (barely) and cellular phones. Gone are the days of party lines and operators who knew what everyone was saying on the telephone.
One day my children will look back and reminisce about iPhones and iPads. As for photography, I am planning on taking them through a similar journey.
Not only am I going to put a camera in their hand, but I am going to pass on my knowledge of the film process. New technologies will emerge, but the knowledge does not have to fall by the wayside. I look forward to that day.