Articles

This page hosts photography related articles covering subjects such as photographic technique, in-depth trip reports, equipment reviews and other items of interest to photographers.

21st Century business cards!

I was recently supplied with some excellent new flash drives by USB Memory Direct. Many designs are available but I chose a credit card sized flash drive to maximise space for images. I was also able to include all my contact details, so the drives double up very nicely as business cards.

"Flash Drives sponsored by USB Memory Direct"

I'm now using these drives during workshops to store clients images on once I've demonstrated techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop, as a reference for when they get home and start processing their own images. With a capacity from 256MB to 64GB the drives can have space for plenty of image files.

This drive design is called "Card Flip" and I think it's the best choice for photographers in particular. The quality of the drive seems to be very good and the print quality is also decent. The drive itself is only very slightly thicker than a credit card, so it is easily stored in a wallet. I have been very impressed with them - far more useful than a standard business card and much less likely...

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Summer in Bulgaria trip report

In June 2014 Cat and I headed to the wilds of Bulgaria to photograph as wide a variety of wildlife as possible over a seven day trip. With the expert guidance of local wildlife photographer Emil Enchev we managed to find a host of interesting subjects during what seemed a bit like a European safari! We lost only half a day due to wet weather during our tour around the eastern parts of the country.

My macro and close-up images were taken using a variety of equipment including 180mm macro, 100mm macro, 300mm f4 and 600mm f4 lenses (the latter two often with extenders). I didn't use artificial light at all and relied upon reflectors to balance the lighting.

Bulgaria consists of around 75% wild land and still has acres of traditional wildflower meadows that are a fantastic habitat for a range of interesting flora and fauna. We were both keen to photograph insects and wildflowers and we certainly weren't disappointed as there were fields full of orchids, butterflies and much more everywhere we went! Many of the insect species I had never photographed before.<...

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Telephoto lens support

I like to use my long telephoto lenses as much as possible, especially for landscape photography. However, it can be a real challenge to get sharp images in certain conditions. The problem is wind-induced vibrations, which becomes all too apparent when using lenses with a focal length in excess of 300mm (especially large fast aperture lenses).

The main cause of this problem is normally an inadequate tripod collar. These lenses haven't really been designed to take landscape images using relatively long exposure times from a tripod, and consequently their tripod collars just aren't up to the job. Once attached to a tripod you can normally feel and see the amount of play in the tripod collar. As the whole weight of the camera and lens are supported from this single point, any movement is bound to cause and amplify vibrations as soon as the wind blows. Using the image stabiliser can help to reduce this problem, but only up to a point. The stabiliser can't be used in combination with long exposure times, as the image will drift during the exposure, causing even more image softness. Using mirror lock-up and a remote...

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Lenses for landscape and wildlife photography

I’m often asked, “What is your favourite lens for landscape photography?” and “If you could only take out one lens at a time, which one would it be?” In this article I provide some brief thoughts about each of the lenses I use. This article will be kept up-to-date as my lens collection changes.

Zoom Lenses I have always preferred the flexibility of zoom lenses for landscape photography, as they allow me to get my composition just right in-camera. This is more important to me than any slight increase in image quality that I might obtain using prime lenses. There is no doubt that the very best prime lenses outperform the best zoom lenses in some areas, but as long as my lenses provide all the quality that I need for the sizes that my images are normally reproduced then that’s all that matters to me. I did use an extremely sharp set of Zeiss prime wide-angle lenses for a time, but eventually switched back to zooms.

EF16-35mm f4L IS This new lens replaced my EF16-35mm f2.8L...

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Lens calibration

You might think that your expensive lenses should perform perfectly straight out of the box. Unfortunately this often isn’t the case and you may find that each of your camera/lens combinations require independent adjustment to its focusing in order to perform optimally. I recommend investing in a very useful piece of equipment called Lens Align Pro. This simple device designed by Michael Tapes enables you to accurately calibrate the autofocus of all your prime lenses to various camera bodies using the AF micro adjustment facility in your camera (if it has one).

It is important to test all possible camera/lens/extender combinations for consistent results. One thing that I would stress is that it’s important to have the lens align target set up in even direct sunlight for best results, otherwise the necessary contrast for consistently accurate autofocus may not be achieved. Once the settings have been made in the camera AF micro-adjustment menu the camera remembers the serial number combinations and settings applied for each, so you never have to go back into the menu to reset lens calibration when changing lenses.

  It’s...

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Head torches

In order to capture the best light around sunrise and sunset, landscape photographers often have to walk to and from locations in the dark. Trudging through wild and rugged landscape in the pitch black can be very hazardous, especially in coastal and mountainous areas. For this reason we all need to carry head torches. Over the years I have used many head torches. Most of these were adequate at best, and only then when new batteries were installed! Thankfully I was recently introduced to the LED Lenser H14.

This head torch is extremely bright and can help you to find a safe route by illuminating the landscape over 100m away. It has a zoom lens that provides either a wide flood of light or a sharp spot beam. It has a great feature that allows you to set the power management to either reduce the brightness of the beam as the battery drains (as most torches do) or maintain maximum brightness until the battery is drained (at which point the light goes out), which is the option I choose. The torch isn't particularly compact, but it's comfortable to wear. Thanks to the top...

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