Quick Tip – Dust to Dust!

Posted in DSLR, Photography General, technique, Video with tags , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by Jim

Dust in your DSLR getting you down? Me too! I find dust especially a problem if you are using your DSLR cameras for video. Perhaps it is because a smaller portion of the sensor is being used, but I tend to see dust on video that I don’t see on the still images.

I keep the body cap on my camera when I’m traveling and not shooting. When I put a lens on, I generally toss the body cap and end lens cap back into my camera bag. How about you? Bad idea! That is a great way to pick up dust. When the body cap is placed back on the camera, there is a good possibility there is dust lurking on it just waiting to jump onto that sensor! Of course, using an air bulb to blow off the dust first is a good idea, but I also recommend taking the rear-lens cap and the body cap and join them together! Just a simple twist and it not only keeps them from bouncing around in your bag (vest, pocket, whatever!), but will help keep dust out of the inside of the caps!

PluralEyes Coming to a PC near you!

Posted in Review, technique, Video with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Jim
Taping training videos

Video guy - yeah, that

If you make videos, or use your DSLR to make videos, and use a separate device to record your audio, unless you are editing with Final Cut Pro on a Mac, you could go crazy trying to sync up your video and audio. I’ve been jealous of the Mac video editors for a long time, as they had some magic software called PluralEyes that would do all the syncing work for them.

Well, finally, they must heard my cries of anguish and took pity on me, because now Singular Software is releasing PluralEyes for Premiere CS4 and CS5 on the PC platform!! Also note that it is available for Sony Vegas.

Skeptic that I am, I decided to really issue PluralEyes a challenge. Even though the software is currently in beta for the PC, I shot 42 clips, no clap stick or sync marker of any kind, and the video was recorded on a Zoom H4N. I brought the whole mess back to my PC, loaded up Premiere Pro CS5, loaded up the video clips on the sequence line and below it, I loaded up the recorded audio from the Zoom. I exported the project as a FCP project file, loaded that file up into PluralEyes – left all the options at their default values, then walked away.

When I returned, PluralEyes indicated it was done. So (still a skeptic!), I loaded up my original project, then imported the new synced project that PluralEyes created – and to my utter amazement and astonishment – all clips were synced to the audio! This HAS to be magic!! Actually – I’m lying. There was one clip that didn’t sync (since there were only a couple spoken words), but they were placed next to each other on the timeline and I was easily able to sync that one. I didn’t try, but I’m sure if I had applied some of the more advanced sync options, PluralEyes would have synced that one as well. (I REALLY like the name of the sync option “Try Really Hard”!!!).

I cannot even describe how much time this is going to save me from performing a mundane task that I absolutely detested. Plus, I don’t have to urge the talent to clap their hands or mess with a clap-stick. In fact, as long as the audio recorder is running, I can start and stop the cameras as I please and PluralEyes will still synchronize them! I can even shoot with both my 5D and 7D at the same time and PluralEyes will even sync the overlaps so that I can use the multi-camera edit feature in Premiere.

Best of all – PluralEyes is currently in beta release, so Singular is offering it as a FREE beta download! If this is the beta, I can’t wait to use the final version. At a price point of only $149, I have placed it on my “Must Have” list.

Highly recommended!!

http://www.singularsoftware.com to download the trial version!

Click Here to BUY! Special Introductory Price!

Give us a Listen!

Posted in DSLR, General Photography, Podcast, Video on July 16, 2010 by Jim

microphone

Fotobug - Elusive Image Podcasts

I just posted the Fotobug podcast number 4 and the next one will be ready in a week or so. If you are interested in nature, travel or even general photography – give us a listen! The podcast is available at PODBEAN and is also available on iTunes and Zune. I recommend you subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes!

In addition to the previous episodes featuring interviews with Clyde Butcher and Trey Ratcliff, the new podcasts feature a tour of Clyde Butcher’s darkroom facility and Clyde’s “backyard” in the Big Cypress Swamp, as well as an interview with writer, director, producer, cameraman, Richard Clabaugh and a sneak preview of his latest film, EYEBORGS. Rick discusses the use of DSLR video capable cameras being used on professional Hollywood style films.

We also feature discussions on the latest news in photography and new equipment, such as the iPad. Upcoming episodes will feature more interviews, software reviews, techniques, and a series of training videos hosted by photographer Jason Hahn. The first video is about wading techniques based upon Jason’s article in the August issue of Popular Photography. Last, but not least, we will be discussing our latest photo tours and workshops (Everglades workshop in November and Costa Rica in March for Outdoor Photo Workshops, as well as my tour to Mongolia in August, 2011).

So, now you know why I’ve been lax in my postings here!! Please check out our Fotobug Podcasts, don’t forget to rate us, (I recommend subscribing) and we want to hear from you about your photo tours, workshops, questions, complaints, etc.

64bit Raw Viewers?

Posted in General Photography, Photography General, Review with tags , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Jim

Rufous-tailed hummingbird

I just put together a new computer to edit my podcasts (PODCAST) and to edit the new HD formats, I decided on Windows 7 64bit OS along with the new Intel 930 processor and 6Gb memory. Great machine – but there was one small problem: I loaded up the Canon raw codec to view my RAW image files and discovered Canon doesn’t support 64bit – neither does Nikon! That’s a real problem – although I use Lightroom, sometimes I just want to do a quick look at the RAW images using the Windows viewer.

However, I discovered that all is not lost! Axel Rietschin Software Developments to the rescue! Axel has developed a complete set of raw codecs for all the major manufacturers that will work in 64bit (and 32bit) operating systems and is currently selling the codecs at the bargain price of only $5.99! He also has an image view that sounds quite interesting and I may download the trial version and check it out. Go to HERE and check out the codecs and his image viewer!

His codecs and viewer work on regular 32bit systems as well and I recommend you check it out!

Podcast now live!

Posted in Photographers to inspire, Photography General with tags on April 4, 2010 by Jim

Clyde Butcher

Our long awaited podcast is now live! The first podcast features an interview by James Shadle with Clyde Butcher and an interview I conducted in Tampa with HDR guru, Trey Ratcliff.
The podcast is also available on iTunes, Zune, etc. and I hope you will subscribe and consider commenting. In the mean time, go here – http://fotobug.podbean.com/ – to watch the Elusive Image Podcast!

HDR Workflow

Posted in technique with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by Jim

Monk and Begger in Lhasa, Tibet.


HDR is rapidly becoming more mainstream. I recently met Trey Ratcliff (http://www.stuckincustoms.com) in Tampa and I’m seeing more and more articles on the technique in mainstream photo magazines. For Canon shooters (sorry Nikon folks, but these techniques may likely work for you too!), I am going to post my workflow for taking and processing HDR images.

First of all, on most of the Canon models except for the 1D and 1Ds, the camera is limited to 3 exposures for AEB (automatic exposure bracketing). While this is good for most images, there are times where a wider range might be desirable. So, I pre-set and register a -2 stop (plus on shot right on the proper exposure!) AEB on the C1 setting of my 5D and 7D and a +3 stop AEB on C2. I do this by setting up the camera for ISO 100, AV mode, f/8 on the lens and then AEB setting the highest bracketed shot at the 0 setting on the dial by adjusting the exposure compensation. I also set the camera for rapid fire. I then use the menu to register this to Custom setting 1 (the C1 on the mode dial on the top left of the camera). I change the AEB range by changing the exposure compensation dial to begin at 1 stop over the 0 point and register this setting to C2. If I need more or less aperature, it is easy to quickly change these settings on the fly and re-register them.

When shooting, I line up my shot, turn the dial to C1 and use a wireless remote to fire off three shots, then turn the dial to C2 and fire 3 more – voila! a 6 exposure range! I may adjust this range to favor underexposing instead of more shots overexposing, depending upon the scene I’m photographing.

Once I return home, I transfer the RAW images into my computer backup drives (of course I’m shooting RAW!). I then use Lightroom to select the range of RAW images for each shot (and may even do some minor white balance correcting), then I select Export and export the range of images into Photomatix or HDRShop – more often than not, I transfer them as JPGs, but TIFs are fine too!

Once in the HDR software – I tonemap the image to my liking, then process it and save it. Now, I go back into Lightroom and transfer the original RAW images into Photoshop by selecting Edit in Photoshop in layers. This will transfer the images into one project as individual layers. I then bring in the tonemapped image, copy and paste it on top of the layers. Finally, I apply layer maps and selectively adjust the tonemapped image as appropriate from the original RAW images – generally light and darker areas, and remove subject movement, if necessary. At this stage, the adjustments are very subjective.

Once I am done adjusting and flattening the image, I may bring it into a plugin such as Topaz Adjust or Phototools, or apply a curve to the final image, sharpen, size and convert it to an sRGB if it is destined for the web. Again, at this point it is highly subjective and often I will try different processes on it until I get something that I like.

Finally, RAW images alone also contain more dynamic range than can be displayed on a normal monitor or in print and sometimes a single RAW image processed in Photomatix or other software can benefit and that is how the image on this article was done!

Travels Beyond the Edge

Posted in Photographers to inspire with tags on February 10, 2010 by Jim
Art Wofle

Abstract man gallery - Art Wolfe

Like many artists, photographers tend to find a comfort zone and therefore become classified according to a particular style or subject. However, I find it very refreshing when a photographer steps out of that zone and looks at a subject in a new way or attempts a new style.

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the work of Art Wolfe. He has a PBS series running called Travels to the Edge where a video crew follows him to remote locations as he photographs the amazing cultures, landscapes and wildlife from around the world. While I have never met Art, I have spoken to him on the phone and have many of his books, including Migrations which he sent me an autographed copy.

I always thought of Art as a wildlife/travel photographer, that is until recently! A fellow co-worker told me that her son was hired by Art to pose in his Seattle studio for a new series he was working on called The Abstract Man Exhibit. When some of his images were finally displayed on his website, I was blown away. His amazing black and white studies were totally outside of my concept of an Art Wolfe image.

Yet, when I returned to look at his Migrations book, or at the fine images in his online gallery, there is an element of his new work that was really there all along and I just never noticed. In the Migrations book he has wonderfully abstract images of thousands, or tens of thousands animals or birds that lose their individual identities and instead become wonderful patterns of colors and forms. In fact, very much like the extension of the fantastic new Abstract Man images.

I recommend going to Art’s gallery (Art’s Gallery) and then go and pick up your camera and try something new as well.