Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Using photography contest judging criteria to help photographers self-assess

Paris, Eiffel TowerMany photographers struggle to create an insightful set of principles to self-assess their work. Getting a critique from trusted photographers is an excellent idea, but without regular in-depth, honest image critiques of their own work, photographers will have a tough time improving and growing.

I offer for consideration, using the criteria photography contest judges use to assess images, as the basis for photographers to develop their own workable, rational approach to self-assessment.

When I began to ask colleagues for assistance, by having them critically assess my work, I found that they typically zeroed into the technical aspects of my images. While there is little doubt the quality of focus, bokeh, color, exposure, lighting, composition, etc. are important, I knew that there were other issues that should be included in any image critique. Over the years I developed my own assessment checklist.

Interestingly to me, many years later, when I began to be invited to be on photography contest juries, I found that my list and the contests' guidelines for judging entries were essentially the same. Therefore, for photographers serious about improving their craft today, rather than struggle to create their own checklist, I suggest using the criteria developed by photographers to judge work in photo contests across the globe.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Changed to "daylight" time Sunday? Don't forget to reset your camera's clock

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, FranceOn Sunday, March 10, 2019, most of the U.S. switched to Daylight time from Standard time. Not all of the U.S. makes the change. Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don't switch to Daylight time in the spring nor back to Standard time in the fall. Their clocks are always set to Standard time.

If you travel internationally, it's important to be aware that the Daylight/Standard time change doesn't universally occur across the globe. More than 100 countries never change to Daylight time and more than a few countries switch between the two on different dates than other countries.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The new lithium-ion battery ban on passenger aircraft as cargo

Nikon camera batteryLithium based batteries on commercial passenger aircraft have been regulated since 2008. That year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) banned spare lithium based batteries from passengers' checked luggage.

At the end of last month, the US DOT formalized what U.S. based commercial passenger air carriers already had been doing. They banned the “transport of lithium-ion cells or batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.” ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) had called for the ban since February, 2016.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Study concludes smoking can diminish photographers' color vision acuity

Color Acuity - RGB Color CircleThe deadly health effects of tobacco were made known in 1964, when Luther L. Terry, M.D., then Surgeon General of the U.S., released the first report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. From that report and subsequent ones, we know that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and a myriad of other serious diseases.

According to the CDC, the statistics about smokers contracting life threatening diseases compared to non-smokers are startling.
  • Smokers are more likely to contract coronary heart disease by 200%-400%.
  • Smokers are more likely to experience a stroke by 200%-400%.
  • Smokers are more likely to die from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by 1,200%-1,300%.
  • Male smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer by 2,500%.
  • Female smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer by 2,570%.
Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic. It contains about 4,000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Eclipse Alert: Total lunar eclipse coming January 20/21, 2019

Super Blood Moon - Image courtesy of NASAOn Monday, January 21, 2019 from 0236 GMT until 0748 GMT there will be a total lunar eclipse. For those in the U.S., I'll translate. The lunar eclipse will run from Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 9:30pm EST until Monday, January 21, 2019 at 2:45am EST.

In North and South America, the entire eclipse will be visible from the penumbral, to partial, to full eclipse and back again. Other parts of the world will be able to see all or much of the lunar eclipse, though much of Asia and Oceania will miss it entirely.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019 - Change your camera's copyright notice!

Copyright? Happy New Year.

It's January 1st, time to reset the copyright notice in your camera to reflect the new year. Make sure your 2019 images have the correct information.

Most digital cameras today can automatically insert your copyright notice into the metadata of every image you make as they are stored. By the time you read this article, each of my cameras will have been reset so that they will insert the following copyright and use statement into every image I make with them:
“Copyright © 2019 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.”
If you haven't been inserting your copyright notice in your images to protect them, I suggest you consider beginning the practice today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What the heck is back button focus & why do I need to use it?

Nikon 51 point autofocus layout in Nikon D4 DSLRWhen most people make a photo with their camera, they aim, press the camera's shutter release button, wait for the camera to focus, then press the button the rest of the way. Whammo, the image is made.

While that's easy and direct, if you're using a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) or MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) camera, it may not be the best way to focus and shoot. Until 1989, it was the only way to activate autofocus and make a photo with an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, the film based forbearer of today's DSLR and MILC cameras.

It wasn't until 1985 that autofocus was even available. That year, Minolta, having purchased Leica autofocus technology, released the first commercially successful autofocus SLR, the Maxxum 7000. Minolta configured the Maxxum autofocus system to work as most photographers know it today. Autofocus was activated by pressing the shutter release button.

Four years later, in 1989, Canon introduced back button focus. It removes the autofocus function from the shutter release button and assigns it to a button on the back of the camera. Hence the name, back button focus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sensor cleaning update for DSLR and MILC camera sensors

Nikon D200 with lens removed to give sensor access for cleaningIn my NSL Photography Blog article, Essential camera gear protection and maintenance, I discussed the importance of keeping your camera clean to ensure it's ready for your photo sessions and whenever a photo opportunity presents itself. Part of keeping your camera clean is keeping your camera's sensor clean.

Today's DSLRs and MILCs have internal sensor dust removal systems. While they do a credible job, they aren’t 100% effective. Repair shops, and manufacturers offer “professional” cleaning services, but they’re often expensive. Some charge $150 or more, and it can take as long as 3–4 weeks to get your cleaned camera back.

Eventually every interchangeable lens camera will need to have its sensor cleaned, as every time its lens is changed, dust and dirt in the air freely enter its sensor compartment. At times, it may be necessary for photographers to clean the sensor themselves rather than wait for a professional cleaning, particularly when in the field.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Essential camera gear protection and maintenance

Nikon Z7 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameraIs there anything more frustrating than having a great photo opportunity, perhaps leading to the image of a lifetime, and your camera's not working because you didn't protect your gear well enough?

It's not that hard to keep photo gear in excellent working condition. While regular maintenance and precautions can't prevent every failure, it's been my experience that most can be avoided with some planning and commonsense measures.

Keep your camera clean

Photographers understand the importance of keeping the inside of their camera clean to keep their camera's sensor dust-free and prevent wear and tear on moving parts. It's important to keep the outside of the camera clean, as well. When lenses are changed, dirt on the exterior of the camera and lenses can enter the camera. Keeping the outside of your camera and lenses clean will keep controls, contacts and screens clean plus prevent dirt from entering your camera.