I think I’ve found my calling! Well, at least for this particular time in my life. In the last few months I’ve been engaged in flower photography and loving it. Who would have thought. Here’s just one of my images for you to enjoy.
Ah yes, I have known and loved them all. I was wondering though if the camera influences our images? It probably does in the simplistic sense that, say, it’s difficult to go shooting motor sports with a twin lens Rolleiflex. On the other hand, I can sense Indignant from Wigan putting fingers to keyboard already to explain that’s the only way to shoot motor sport, it gets you really close to the action. I do think though that the camera does become part of the process, no matter how much we believe that it’s the photographer that does all the creative input. Just as it affects our style if we shoot monochrome as opoosed to colour. That can change the sort of subject matter we look for.
Here’s some pictures and I’ll identify what the camera was. The we can decide whether the camera type made any difference.
Mamiya 6, 6x6cm rangefinder.
Pentax 645/75mm lens. 645 format film SLR.
Pentax MX/SMC Pentax 24mm f/2.8 lens. 35mm film SLR.
Pentax *istDS/SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm lens. Digital SLR.
Fujifilm S7000. Digital bridge camera.
Are you my mummy? Pentax MX film SLR. Kodachrome film.
Pentax Optio 750Z Digital compact.
I’m not sure it does make any difference, apart from some cameras being more suited to some subjects. So we naturally use the camera to suit the situation, avoiding subjects that are clearly outside the scope. I am thinking this conclusion is some support for the notion that it is the photographer after all.
Heres one of the ideas that came from a short blog the other day. Its about seeing the light, by which I mean recognising beautiful light, and then working out how to use it. For me, in my normal photographic mode, that means seeing when the studio lights are giving a particularly striking effect, and sometimes fine-tuning it. For a landscape photographer, its often about anticipation and then its about patience. Good light is partly a state of mind: there are days when the light level is low and the shadows seem empty, but I wonder if thats just in my head A grey day means low contrast, so that subtle things show in an image, though you may have to seek them out with the contrast slider when you process the pictures.
So good light isnt the whole story: sometimes, theres work to do in editing, and you will need to be able to recognise the potential, or you wont shoot the image. That takes us into the territory that Ansel Adams staked out with the word previsualisation the ability to visualise the finished picture, and a mental plan for getting from the scene to the final print. To get to this, you will need to spend time blundering around processing, filters, effects and the rest, so that you can see a scene or person and decide that you need to expose carefully for the shadows, then increase contrast, convert to mono, and add colour toning.
I love the dark grey sky after a storm, when the sunshine makes the fresh-washed landscape sparkle even more because of the contrast with the dark sky its worth pausing and maybe darkening it further with a some burning in, or even a levels adjustment layer and a mask. And in the studio, I have a lot of fun with low key work. Sometimes, good light is simply a matter of angle rather than precisely what softbox or reflector you use. (I get excellent mileage from a beauty dish of around twenty inches diameter.)
Rim lighting always looks great when you spot it Beware, though you may find that you blow the highlights if you dont apply some exposure compensation, and that usually spoils the effect. Definitely shoot RAW and go from there, so that you can choose whether to have dead black or velvety shadows behind.
Catastrophe theory isnt far away from spectacular light: you need to notice the difference between the effect of high noon sunlight on weathered metal and wood. and the results with a human face (disastrous selfie attached: testing an IR remote) and put together your mental little black book of good and bad combinations.
This is something everyone can have a go it. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or a flat or usually shoot landscapes or portraits as this will give you the chance to think out of the box a little and really help you improve your photography.
Of course, if you live on the coast or in the Highlands or Lakes, you have got it slightly easier than some. But there are pictures to be captured everywhere, you just have to get out there and find them!
If you really don’t fancy shooting near your home pick a location you love or know well and see how only having a few meters to work in will make you think differently.
If you’re not travelling far you can set out your full array of lenses on your side and return to pick up what you need although your standard zoom will do a perfectly good job.
If you do have a variety of lenses to pick from your macro lens will be good for giving the ordinary a unique twist while a longer telephoto will get you close to birds in the garden without having to be sat on the branch next to them. If you’re out in the garden you may need a tripod when using a longer lens but otherwise working hand-held will be fine.
What To Shoot?
Look at everyday objects differently. See how a fork, TV remote or even a shoelace look close up through a macro lens. Or try setting yourself a little challenge: shoot household objects, certain packets or how about items beginning with a particular letter or number? Try shooting candids of neighbours or how about limiting the number of pictures you take?
You can go on a mini safari in your garden, photograph birds from your window or shoot the flowers that are now decorating our beds. Have a go at photographing micro landscapes on dull days or how about capturing raindrops as they fall down your windows or land on plants? If you don’t mind early starts, you can shoot some photos of morning dew or spend some time with your pets, photographing their antics.
As the months warm-up you’ll be able to spot Ladybirds to photograph but while the weather’s still chilly, why not stay indoors and shoot some still life work: kitchen utensils, cutlery and food.
Once upon a time there was a Salford Parks Department that had a whole system of gardeners and workmen looking after parks, tennis courts, mini golf courses, boating lakes and even glasshouses. It’s the last one I’m referring to today, because in Buile Hill Park there was a magnificent glasshouse full of exotic plants, but also fish, brightly coloured birds, butterflies and a fantastic tropical section where the damp heat would hit you like a wall when you entered. Here’s a picture of my Mum in the glasshouse, somewhere around 1969.
Sadly, funding cuts and whatever else was going on behind the scenes put paid to all of it, and by 2005 the glasshouse looked like this.
How could anyone let such a valuable resource fall into such disrepair? The Parks Department buildings behind this are equally derelict and the whole place has been reduced to a mess. We intend to go back and get an updated set of images. Unfortunately fencing and atrocious weather hampered our last attempt a couple of years ago. I have seen it reported that one problem is that renovating would need the use of new security glass and that is too heavy for the wooden structure to support. If that is the case perhaps we should be looking at acrylic or some other solution, but surely this is not only a problem here and others around the world must have found solutions. I don’t like to see advancing dereliction of things that were once so fine, especially as in the early stages it is avoidable. It is nonetheless a case for making sure we record what we currently think of as normal, because it disappears very quickly and becomes another kind of photographic interest, Beauty In Decay.
Sigma has announced three new lenses, designed for E-mount and L-mount cameras, including the:
Sigma I series 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary – due 22nd Jan 2021, SRP £479.99
Sigma I series 35mm f/2.0 DG DN Contemporary – due 1st Jan 2021, SRP £549.99
Sigma I series 65mm f/2.0 DG DN Contemporary – due 1st Jan 2021, SRP £649.99
They join the 45mm f/2.8 DG DN lens, to make a total of four I series lenses.
From Sigma: 1 December 2020, Full-frame lens designed exclusively for mirrorless cameras – An extension of your creative vision
I series | ‘Premium Compact Primes’ bringing a new photographic experience to mirrorless users
New standards of optical performance for the Contemporary line
Exceptional build quality with a compact form-factor
Features an aperture ring, metal lens hood and magnetic lens cap
The ultra-sharp I series SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary, a compact, short telephoto, full-frame prime that offers a remarkable photographic experience for mirrorless users.
The new I series range from SIGMA introduces compact, beautifully designed, high-performance optics for mirrorless camera systems. In its first collection, SIGMA introduces a high-performance 65mm lens to the Contemporary line-up, which combines excellent resolving power with a small body that is perfectly weighted for mirrorless systems.
With an unusual but versatile focal length that has been much loved by many photographers and film-makers, this 65mm lens is a perfect mid-point between standard primes and classic portrait lenses, and is ideal for any application that requires a short-telephoto focal length. Its outstanding optical quality can capture extremely fine detail even wide open at its maximum aperture of F2, and it produces large and round bokeh.
The lens’ all-metal body, which is a standard feature across all I series models, makes this a durable optic with an unparalleled user experience. From the perfectly precise click of the aperture ring to the satisfying snap of the magnetic lens cap attaching to the front of the lens, every element of this lens is beautifully designed and constructed with the greatest attention to detail.
1. I series | ‘Premium Compact Primes’ bringing a new photographic experience to mirrorless users
The SIGMA I series features full-frame-compatible lenses that offer mirrorless users a new and better alternative, both in the experience of shooting with the lens and in the impressive results it is able to achieve. One of the key advantages of mirrorless cameras is their smaller form-factor, and this new 65mm optic is designed to be perfectly matched to these more compact systems without sacrificing performance. This combination of superb optical quality with exceptional portability, not previously possible with DSLR systems, will bring new opportunities to this and future generations of photographers.
Simultaneously, SIGMA is aware of the increasing number of camera options there now are, especially with the growth in smartphone ownership, so people are looking for something more than a mere act of taking pictures when they choose to own a camera and lenses. SIGMA’s excellence in development and processing technologies has been built up since its founding in 1961, and has become further sophisticated with the introduction of the SIGMA Global Vision range in 2012. With this as a base, SIGMA has given careful thought to how photographers use and enjoy their lenses, including optical design, advanced functionality, superb build quality and the experience of picking up and using the lens, and with all of this carefully considered, the I series was born.
2. New standards of optical performance for the Contemporary line
The 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary brings to the table the highest level of optical performance even at its maximum aperture of F2. Axial chromatic aberration, which tends to be noticeable with medium and telephoto lenses and cannot be effectively reduced in-camera, is corrected thoroughly with the use of SLD glass, allowing it to resolve extreme detail. A pair of glass-molded aspherical lenses is used to correct spherical and comatic aberration, as well as astigmatism, while also helping make the optical configuration smaller in size. A combination of the latest optical design and advanced processing technology gives the 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary its excellent optical performance as well as compact size.
In addition to the beautiful bokeh effect thanks to the control of spherical aberration, the reduced effect of vignetting help curb lemon-shaped or swirly bokeh and give photographers greater control over the out-of-focus areas of their images. And SIGMA-standard anti-ghosting and anti-flare technology ensures high-end performance in backlit conditions.
3. Exceptional build quality with a compact form-factor
All I series lenses have an all-metal construction. The precision-cut aluminum parts not only give the barrel a sleek, stylish finish but provide superb durability, which improves the quality of the entire product. Metal materials are also used in internal structures that slide with the operation ring for added robustness. These high-precision components, crafted with SIGMA’s cutting-edge metalworking technology, are also used in the production of the cine lens line-up for professional film-makers and provide an exceptionally premium feel that make these lenses a joy to use.
The cover ring between the focus ring and the aperture ring has hairline processing that is also used for the rear cylinder of the Art line. This covering functions as a finger hold when attaching or detaching the lens.
4. Features an aperture ring, metal lens hood and magnetic lens cap
Despite being exceptionally small and light for an all-metal, full-frame, wide-aperture lens, the 65mm F2 DG DN |C has impressive functionality, with an aperture ring that allows photographers to change apertures on the lens, or when set to Auto, in-camera if preferred. Special sound-deadening grease has been used to give the ring a precise but smooth action. Included in the box is the regular plastic SIGMA lens cap, as well as a metal cap that attaches to the front of the lens magnetically. A lens cap holder is available to buy separately, which can be clipped to a bag strap or clothing and holds the cap magnetically while the lens is being used. The lens comes with an all-metal lens hood.
Compatible with high-speed autofocus
Compatible with lens-based optical correction
Mount with dust- and splash-proof structure
Super Multi-Layer Coating
Focus Mode Switch
Compatible with SIGMA USB DOCK UD-11 (sold separately / for L-Mount only)
Designed to minimise flare and ghosting
Supports DMF, AF+MF (for Sony E-mount only)
Every single lens undergoes SIGMA’s proprietary MTF measuring system ‘A1’
I was sitting in my office in the loft when my wife invited me to join her in the candlelit summerhouse, which was warm and good for relaxing in. I went out with a book: and then came in again for a camera and tripod.
A beautiful, bright, nearly-full moon, was shining on the summerhouse, so I could put my biggest, heaviest tripod on it with little risk of wobble (I thought). I collected the most extreme telephoto gear I own a 500mm Minolta mirror lens, with a Jessops 2x converter, strapped to the front of an Alpha 7R III with a Minolta/Sony adaptor in there. So a metre of photographic reach and rather outdated AF the converter seems to use more or less the AF module and drive from my old Alpha 900 nine focus spot, all towards the centre of the field. It couldnt lock onto the moon, anyway
Now, the Minolta mirror lens is a first-generation AF optic, and while you can focus it manually, the focus ring is not terribly nice: theres play and backlash, and its EVER so sensitive. Also, even a hefty Manfrotto tripod that is both awkward and unpleasant to carry for more than around fifty feet fails to prevent what I can only describe as tremor on the screen at 14x magnification for focussing. A certain lack of success followed, and much frustration. I reckon a cheap 2x converter wasnt helping.
OK, time for Plan B, which was my Olympus OM-D EM-1 with a 75-300 zoom, again falling a bit short of strong and stable, but with the aid of a 2-second delay and the rather better MF feel of a much more modern lens I got there. At least this time the magnified view had a vestige of focus peaking visible, though the image is much noisier.
Clearly, the images arent up to snuff for any use other than inviting ridicule, and proving to me that there are branches of photography I am unlikely to master. Of course, practice helps refine the technique. Of course, someone who doesnt usually carry a lens longer than 85mm and has not invested heavily in telephotos is at a disadvantage. And (of course) I am not going to invest in a long and sharp lens, because I would use it so rarely
Feel free to mock, and also to offer practical advice to others who may want to try to shoot the moon: Ill settle for the first frame I took this evening, with an 85mm lens at full aperture, blurring the moon behind the branches of our neighbours apple tree.
Black Friday is now a day that most consumers have written in their diaries as it’s a time when stores of all shapes, sizes and varieties offer discounts on a huge range of goods.
Originally, it was an American event that took place the day after Thanksgiving but now, it’s definitely a day the UK embrace. In fact, it’s now not even a day with many retailers running week-long discounts that take consumers right through the sale weekend into what’s known as Cyber Monday.
When Is Black Friday?
Black Friday 2020 takes place in November and this year, it falls on Friday 27 November 2020. However, some retailers, both online and on the high street, do start sales earlier so do keep an eye out for posters, emails and online ads which have Black Friday Deal details on them.
What Time Does Black Friday Start?
The time offers become available will change from store-to-store but generally, it’s midnight online and high street retailers often open earlier (around 6 am), although, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, there will be a lot fewer stores you can walk into and grab a bargain this year. Different deals may also go live at different times. For example, as well as ‘deals of the day’, Amazon offers ‘Lightning deals’ which are discounted products available in limited quantities, for a short period of time. ‘Lightning deals’ are introduced throughout the sale, with new deals becoming available as often as every five minutes.
Where Can I Get The Best Black Friday Deals?
All major stores and even some independent retailers offer Black Friday deals so it’s more of a case of knowing what you’re looking for and shopping in the right place.
For ease, most people actually do their Black Friday shopping online and if you’re going to be one of the millions of customers who do this, don’t forget most stores also have apps you can use that make it easier and quicker to shop.
How Can I Ensure I Get The Best Black Friday Discounts?
To get the best Black Friday 2020 discounts, you often need to shop early as stock flies off shelves quickly and do your research beforehand so you know if you are really getting a bargain or not. This could mean checking the average price of things that you want before the discounts are applied as well as comparing discounts from store-to-store. You also need to factor in P&P when shopping online as this will add more money to your total.
If you don’t already have accounts with stores online, create them before Black Friday arrives so the order process is quicker and if you have voucher codes, put them all in one place so you can quickly refer to them (if applicable). You can also sign up for email alerts so you don’t miss any deal announcements.
What Is Cyber Monday?
Once the dust has settled on Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2020 arrives for tech fans and this year, it’s Monday 30 December 2020 – just after payday for many. Basically, it’s another day you can take advantage of big discounts before Christmas arrives.
When Will My Black Friday Goods Arrive?
Due to the volume of orders stores receive, they may be a slight delay on when your new purchases will arrive but a lot of stores do work hard to ensure delivery deadlines are met.
Amazon Prime And Black Friday Deals
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, even one who’s enjoying a free Amazon Prime 30-day trial, you are usually given a 30-minute early access period to all Lightning Deals on Black Friday and Prime Now, a service which offers 2-hour or even 60-minute delivery windows in some postcodes, also usually offers special Black Friday deals. We will, of course, confirm this as soon as we know this will be happening this year.
ePHOTOzine wants to help you find the best deals on cameras, photography accessories and more so like last year, we’ll be updating the website with posts on the very best photography related deals. The deals will be posted in one feature so they’re easy to find and you can even bookmark the page once it’s live on site.
We have some very exciting offers from a wide range of photographic brands such as Samyang and Serif waiting to reveal their Black Friday Deals so do make sure you’re signed-up to receive our newsletter so you’ll be one of the first to see what fantastic offers are available.
By using our Amazon Affiliate links when ordering anything online, you are supporting the site – thank you.
There was a time, before a compact camera could outcompute a NASA Moon Module, when every extra facility in a camera had to be engineered in, with more design work, more parts, and more careful assembly. Extra complication required higher standards of quality control and it was really difficult to retrofit something that the original designer hadnt catered for.
Consider the flash synch on my Leica IIIa: its a separate little accessory that comes in a tin, with careful instructions for how to fit it, and how to use it. You have to screw it onto the shutter speed dial, carefully and precisely. It depends on the fact that the dial rotates (its part of the drum that the wound shutter blind sits around), and it depresses a mechanical switch on the unit mounted on the accessory shoe of the camera.
But its not like that now. Your digital camera is a small computer, and it can do a whole lot of things with the peripherals it has around it. Alter the programming by changing the firmware, and its capabilities change.
So, for instance, theres just a bit of programming to do and you will have twenty scene modes instead of five. Its not difficult, though it may well be pointless. Similarly, once the sensor is providing data to the CPU in live view or in a mirrorless camera, its no big deal to do something about focussing, or video.
So dont confuse the sales hype about 8k video capability with the camera being able to offer YOU something you want or need. Itll be the thing that sells the camera to a few users, and it will certainly earn kudos for the manufacturer. But if what you care about is not on that list, dont let it sway you either way.
Brand ambassadors and influencers set a lot of store by these things, but you neednt.
You’ve probably purchased one or two things from online retailer Amazon but did you know that the shopping giant offers a paid-for membership level that gives you access to loads of benefits? There are actually so many perks to having a Prime membership that we thought we’d outline them for you in a handy guide. Plus, you’ll also find information on pricing, how you upgrade to Prime and Prime Day.
What Is Prime & How Much Does It Cost?
Amazon Prime is a membership Amazon customers can sign up for to gain access to a variety of benefits. It’s priced at £7.99 a month, and you can cancel it at any time. There’s also a Prime Video membership which is available for £5.99 a month but this just gives you access to the movies and TV shows Amazon streams.
There’s also a Family plan available that allows you to share certain Amazon Prime benefits with your household and one for students that give those in education access to a 6-month free trial.
What Do I Get With A Prime Membership?
Unlimited Photo Storage
The most useful Prime Membership feature for photographers is the access to cloud space called Prime Photos where you can store an unlimited amount of photos. You can also share and view the photos from multiple devices and the photos that are stored are at full resolution so you won’t be disappointed in the image quality. Plus, you can safely delete images from your mobile, creating room to take even more images, in the safe knowledge that your photos are backed up.
Unlimited One-Day Delivery
Prime Members get access to Unlimited One-Day Delivery on millions of eligible items so if you suddenly realise you need a memory card, for example, you can press the ‘Buy Now’ button and know it’ll arrive the next day. Plus, in select residential postcodes, Same-Day Delivery is available with Prime Now, offering 2-hour delivery!
Unlimited Reading On Any Device
Prime Reading gives you unlimited access to a rotating selection of more than a thousand books, current magazines, comics, Kindle Singles, and more. This means that you can find a photography themed bestseller and read it on the train or download a photography technique book that will help you brush up on your Lightroom, Photoshop and landscape photography techniques.
Prime eligible items are clearly marked. Just look for the Prime logo (shown right) when you shop.
Early Access To Lightning Deals
Lightning Deals are available all day and every day over on Amazon.co.uk and this includes the camera, electronic and software sections of the site. By signing up to be a Prime Member, you’ll get access to the deals before non-members so you’ll be the first to find the best daily deals.
Other Perks Of Amazon Prime
These aren’t photography related but they’re still nice things to have access to:
Stream two million songs. Thousands of playlists and stations. On-demand, ad-free music streaming.
Bonus game content with Twitch every month, exclusive discounts, plus loads more.
Prime Day – an exclusive shopping event for Prime members
Amazon Prime members, including customers enjoying a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, will have an exclusive 30-minute early access period to all Lightning Deals running on Black Friday.
What If I’m Unsure If Prime Is For Me?
Amazon Prime is available on a 30-day free trial so you can see if the membership is something you’d benefit from before parting with any cash. After the free trial, you will be charged for Prime Membership on a monthly basis but you can cancel this at any time.
Top Tip: Sign up for a free trial at the start of July and take advantage of the Prime Day Deals that will go live in July. We don’t know the full details yet but we will announce the date as soon as we know it!
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