Welcome to Access Digital Photography, a site for digital photographers hosted by award-winning photographers, and best-selling authors Ken Milburn and Doug Sahlin. Collectively we have more than 80 years of photography experience. That’s right, we’ve shot film. But we embrace the digital technology and our digital darkrooms. We’ve written books and articles on digital photography, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and other applications we use to edit our work.
About Our Site
As we write our magazine articles and books, we learn more information about digital photography, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and Adobe Photoshop and the other applications we use to edit our work. We share the information with you on this site. We also feature software reviews, and reviews about digital cameras and lenses. To see a categorized list of posts we’ve already created, click the Sitemap link. You can also find specific information by entering a word or phrase in the Search box, which appears with each post, and on the Blog page. You can also view posts made in a specific category by clicking a link in the Categories section of the sidebar. We also have a photoblog where we post our most recent work. To learn more information about your hosts, click the About Us link. Our most recent posts about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop CS3, digital cameras, lens, product reviews, equipment reviews, articles about digital photography and so on are listed below this post. You can view previous posts by clicking a link in the Archives section of Click a link to visit the site
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Photographers embrace technology. Most of us use digital cameras and rely on technology such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and plug-in filters to bring our work to the light of day. Technology, however, can be a daunting mistress. Just when you think you’ve got all of the equipment and software you need, new equipment or new software is available. And the new is often a quantum leap forward.
Recycling Old Technology
Digital cameras are a perfect example of changing technology. I use an EOS 5D MKII for my professional work. My previous camera was the first iteration of the EOS 5D. I loved that camera, but when Canon announced the EOS 5D MKII, I knew I had to have one. With nearly double the megapixels, a new sensor capable of capturing relatively noise free images at high ISO settings, and built in high-definition video, this camera was definitely a quantum leap forward. I did not want to finance this purchase, so I did some Spring Cleaning and found lots of technology that I wasn’t using; but technology that still had value. I put the old technology up for auction on eBay. When the auctions were over, I had over half of the purchase price of the new camera. So I bought the new EOS 5D MKII, and put my old camera up for auction on eBay. When the auction ended, I received enough money to completely pay for the new camera with a bit left over for my savings account. I was quite pleasantly surprised at how much of my original purchase price I received from the eBay auctions. You can’t get that type of return on investment for other technology, for example: a car or truck.
Digital point and shoot cameras are another example of technology that’s run amuck. About a year ago, I purchased a Canon G10. I thought it was the ideal solution for a daily shooter. It was small, lightweight and had professional features. I liked the camera, but was never crazy about the idea of cramming 15 megapixels on a miniscule sensor. Something else that was lacking on the G10 was a swivel monitor. Canon listened and recently announced the G11. The new G11 features a swivel LCD monitor and the ability to capture 10 megapixels on a CCD sensor. That’s right; Canon took a step backward and put fewer megapixels on a better sensor. In my opinion, 10 megapixels is just fine for a point and shoot camera. Early reviews indicate that the camera will produce images with less noise at higher ISO settings, just what the doctor ordered.
Buying a New Digital Camera without Breaking the Bank Read the rest of this entry »
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Sunset is an awesome time of day for photographers. The sun is low on the horizon casting warm orange light. Add clouds to the equation, and you have the recipe for great sunset pictures. When you photograph a sunset, the sun is a key player, but you need other ingredients for a great shot. One of them is clouds. Without clouds, you’ve got a boring picture of an orange ball sinking in a cerulean blue sky. You also need an interesting landscape to complete the picture. You can take pictures of sunsets with the skyline of your town in silhouette as the background. You can get an even better shot of a sunset when you have a body of water such as a lake, river or ocean in the picture. The water will reflect the colorful clouds. You can get some great sunset pictures in the final few minutes before the sun sets. After the sun sets, many photographers pack up their gear and head for home. This is a mistake. As long as the clouds don’t go all the way to the horizon, the sun will reflect warm colors on the underside of the clouds for about ten or fifteen minutes after setting. If you want really great sunset pictures, wait a few minutes after the sunset and get ready to take some pictures when the clouds are bathed in giddy shades of pink, orange and purple.
There are a couple of different ways you can photograph a sunset. If I’m going for the grand view, I use a wide angle lens such as my 17-35mm Tamron, and choose the smallest possible aperture for a large depth of field. Sometimes I go the other route and choose a telephoto focal length and a fairly large aperture for a limited depth of field. Recently I photographed a sunset at Caspersen Beach, which is a few minutes from my home. I used my 24-105mm lens and zoomed to 105mm, with an aperture of f/7.1. I focused on some nearby sea oats. The sea oats were in silhouette and in sharp focus, the clouds were a little soft, and the sun was a soft out-of-focus orange orb as shown in the following photo. But due to the telephoto lens, the sun is relatively large in the resulting photo, which makes it clear the photo was taken as the sun was setting.
Placement of the horizon line is another important consideration. Many photographers put the horizon line smack dab in the middle of the picture. This gives a confusing message to the viewer, he doesn’t know where to direct his focus. If you remember one of the rules of composition called the Rule Of Thirds, you divide your image into three sections vertically and horizontally. Place the horizon line in the upper third, or lower third of the image. If the sky is the most important element in your sunset shot, place the horizon line in the lower third of the image, which draws the viewer’s attention to the sky. If the reflection of the clouds in the water is the most important part of your image, place the horizon line in the upper third of the image.
It’s been said that Ansel Adams could predict whether or not there’d be a great sunset in Yosemite by looking at the sky half-an-hour before sunset. Ansel knew the weather patterns of Yosemite like the back of his hand and could predict what would happen. Study the weather patterns where you live. Observe the cloud movement in the late afternoon and soon you’ll be able to predict whether or not you’ll have a photogenic sunset.
A great sunset photo always grabs the viewer’s attention and draws him into the picture for a closer look. Use the information in this tutorial when you’re photographing the sunset where you live. Photograph the sunset often and you’ll end up with a portfolio full of great sunset shots.
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Caspersen Beach happens to be one of the most beautiful vistas on the West Coast of Florida. It also happens to be 10 minutes away from my home. When I notice what looks like a good sunset brewing, I head out the door with camera in hand. On this particular day, it was cold and blustery with a thin fringe of cirrus clouds. I shot these images with a 17-35mm Tamron lens. It does have a birt of vignetting at the edges when you shoot at 17mm, but overall it’s a good lens. I combined two versions of each image in Photoshop to increase the dynamic range of the image. I used Andromeda’s Scatter Light filter to impart a dreamy look on the second image.
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Sometimes the cards all fall into place. Right before sunset a puffy deck of clouds adorns the sky. If you happen to be at a pristine beach with a camera in hand, you can capture the wonderful sunset for posterity, which is just what I do whenever possible. The following image is a sunset at Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida.
After tweaking the image in Photoshop, I opened it in Corel Painter X and used an oil brush to achieve the look in the following image.
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Some people believe that the path to a good photograph is a camera that has a sensor that can capture a huge amount of megapixels. However, this is only partially true, because not all megapixels are created equal. If you remember back in the dark ages when photographers used film, there were different film formats. Each film format designated the size of the negative. Negative sizes ran the gamut from the miniscule 110 film, which was used in miniature cameras and had a negative about the size of your thumbnail to large format cameras with negatives as large as 8 x 10 inches. When you start with a larger negative, you can create a larger size print.
The same is true of digital cameras. The miniscule point and shoot cameras that fit in your shirt pocket, have small sensors. Digital SLR cameras have larger sensors, full-frame DSLRs even larger sensors, and medium format digital cameras have even bigger sensors. If you cram a lot of pixels onto a small sensor, and put the same number of pixels on a larger sensor, the pixels on the larger sensor are bigger. Therefore all things equal, you end up with better image quality when you enlarge images captured with the camera that has the larger sensor.
When you have a camera with a smaller sensor, a lot of circuitry is confined to a very small space. Therefore the smaller sensor is more susceptible to digital noise. The increase in digital noise becomes more apparent when you increase the sensor’s sensitivity to light by increasing the ISO. At low ISO settings, most point and shoot camera yield acceptable pictures. However, when you push the envelope and take photographs in low light situations at higher ISO ratings, digital noise becomes apparent, especially in the shadow areas of the image. The digital noise may not be noticeable when you create a 4 x 6 print of the image, but will be visible when you create an 8 x 10 print of the same image.
||7.6mm x 5.7 mm
Canon EOS 50D
||22.3mm x 14.9mm
Canon EOS 5D
|| 36mm x 24mm
Canon EOS 5D MK ll
||36mm x 24mm
The Canon G10 has the smallest sensor of the lot and is capturing 34 megapixels per square centimeter. The EOS 50D digital SLR has a much larger sensor and is capturing 4.5 megapixels per square centimeter. Even though the cameras capture approximately the same number of megapixels, the 50D stores fewer megapixels per square centimeter, which means the pixels are bigger and will yield better image quality when printed at larger sizes. I’ve also included the first generation EOS 5D and the new EOS 5D MKll for comparison. Both cameras capture fewer pixels per square centimeter. The newer camera features a different CMOS chip with advanced circuitry to lower noise, which means you can produce stunning images even though the camera stores almost an extra megapixel per square centimeter.
I own a Canon G-10 and the original Canon EOS 5D. I use the G-10 as an everyday camera. I’m pleased with the image quality of the G-10, but never capture an image with an ISO higher than 200 because of the noise factor. I use the EOS 5D to photograph weddings and events. I’ve captured images in low light with ISO ratings as high as 1600. Yes, there is digital noise, but the image quality is still acceptable. I could not get the same results with the G-10. I’ve created 30 x 40 prints with images captured by my EOS 5D. The images are crisp and sharp, even when viewed from just a few inches away. Although the G-10 captures more megapixels than my EOS 5D, it would not be possible to create an acceptable print larger than 11 x 17.
Don’t get me wrong. Small point and shoot cameras do have their place. They’re smaller, easier to carry, and less noticeable when you’re in a crowd. It’s also easier to take a candid picture of people with a point and shoot camera. When you point a digital SLR with a long lens at someone you don’t know, they almost always turn the other way. I use my point and shoot Canon G-10 often and love the convenience the camera affords. But when I need to take photos for clients, or capture images I’m going to enlarge, I always use my digital SLR to ensure the best results.
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This morning I attended an early meeting. After the meeting was over, I strolled downtown Venice with my Canon G10. I took some pictures and went on to my next meeting. I processed this image in Lightroom and used a develop preset to make the colors pop. Then I took the image into Painter X and used different auto-painting modes on the image. I finalized the images by adding some vibrant strokes of color with the appropriate brush.
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p style=”text-align: left;”>Painter has been around for a long time. I’m been using it since version 4. But I never could come to grips with the application and create images that looked like paintings. That all changed with Corel Painter X. In Painter X you open the Underpainting palette and choose a style. You can also add an edge effect. The next step is to make a Quick Clone of the image. In the Auto Painting palette, enable Smart Stroke Painting, choose a Smart Brush from the Brushes palette and click the Play button. Corel Painter X adjusts the strokes of the Smart Brush to match the angles and curves of the shape you’re cloning. Here are two examples of images that were modified using Auto Painting in Corel X.
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I surf the Net for inspiration and new techniques. I found one technique that changed a nice photo into something abstract. To view a video tutorial showing how to use the technique and convert the steps into an action, click the following link:
Pixelicious Podcast: Episode 32.
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The latest technology taunts photographers with more megapixels, anti-dust technology, live-view, and so on. Pentax, Nikon, and Sony have been upping the ante for about a year. Now Canon’s joined the fray with an updated EOS 5D. The new Canon EOS 5D MKll features integrated sensor cleaning, 21-megapixel captures, live-view, a 3-inch monitor, and much more. I own the first iteration of the 5D. Do I want its big brother? You betcha. I’m sure a lot of other photographers who own the EOS 5D feel the same way. So what do you do when you’re on a budget and can’t afford or don’t want to keep your trusty two-year old EOS 5D, or for that matter, any piece of old gear that you’ve replaced? Can you say eBay?
When my trusty Minolta 35mm camera died, I grudgingly made the switch to digital. After researching what was on the market, I decided to purchase a Canon EOS 10D and bought a couple of EF lenses. I was very happy with the camera except for the amount of time it took the camera to power on. Then along came the EOS 20D. When I read the spec sheet and noticed the start up time had been reduced, I wanted one. So I shopped for the best deal I could find and bought one. But I couldn’t afford and didn’t need two digital SLR bodies. I put the 10D up for auction on eBay. A week later, the camera sold for seventy percent of what I paid for it. Not bad considering I’d used the camera for a year.
I grew to love the 20D. It was a great camera, took sharp pictures, and the camera powered up almost instantly. But I shoot landscapes. Therefore I use a wide angle focal lengths a lot. The Focal Length Multiplier for the 20D is 1.6, which means a 20mm wide angle lens acts like a 32mm lens on the 20D. Almost a year after I purchased the 20D, Canon introduced the 5D, which has a full-frame sensor; no focal length multiplier. I wanted one in the worst way, but balked at spending that much money. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted one. Finally I succumbed to my desire, found the best deal from a reputable online camera store and bought one. I put my 20D up for auction the Saturday after my 5D was delivered. Again I recouped almost seventy percent of my investment after using the camera for a year. It was amazing to watch interested bidders battle each other, driving the selling price of the camera higher and higher. eBay’s is the busiest online auction site; a great place to sell photo gear you’re no longer using.
Now I’m in a quandary. I want the new 5D MKll and I also want to keep my trusty 5D as a backup camera when I shoot weddings. It would also be useful to shoot events with two cameras with different lenses mounted. Even though the list price of the 5D MKll is about $700 less than the original 5D, the economy and sky-rocketing gas prices is causing most Americans — including me — to become very frugal. But the new 5D won’t be available until November. That gives me two and a half months to come up with the money. You can bet I’ll be putting the gear I don’t use frequently up for auction on eBay. My goal is to sell enough to pay cash for the new 5D MKll when it’s available. In fact, I’m putting one lens up for auction on Sunday.
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