Holiday Lights Through a Crystal Ball

There is still time to order a crystal ball before all the holiday lights are packed and put away.

This is the one I ordered through Amazon.  

Click here to see a gallery of my photos with a crystal ball.

Crystal ball, reflection, reverse,
Christmas tree through the crystal ball.

Crystal ball, reflection, reverse,

Magical Winter Lights KAC1400
F/stop at 22.
Magical Winter Lights KAC1419
Holding the crystal ball to see all the lights in the background.

 

Is a 50mm my next purchase?

One of my photography students wrote: 

I’ve taken a couple classes from you and have enjoyed them both. I’m still very much a beginner and still learning about my camera.

I use a Nikon d5000 and my question is, if you were going to add a lens to my kit lens which I have, would it be a 50mm (nifty fifty)? I take pictures mainly of my 4 year old daughter and have been reading about different lenses.

Any suggestions on lenses or where to buy would be greatly appreciated.

M.W.

My answer:

It’s good to hear from you.  Personally, I’d buy the 70-300mm or 70-200mm before I’d buy  the 50mm.  

Shooting with the 50mm means your daughter has to be somewhat still and you have to be close to her to fill the frame.  Use the 70-300mm or the 70-210mm and she can be running around the playground while you’re sitting on a bench and photographing her.  There’s distance between you and the subject. You don’t have to be right in her face all the time.  

The 50mm is a great lens for studio work.  It’s not the greatest for outdoor or shooting in the living room.  I know a lot of people promote it on the internet but you can get the same results with the other lenses.

I have the 50mm and I always grab my 70-200mm first.  Here’s an example why:

Holiday ornaments, Christmas, raccoons, christmas tree,
Here’s a photo of ornaments against a background with lights.  This was taken with a Canon 70-200mm lens at f/7.1.
Holiday ornaments, Christmas, raccoons, christmas tree,
The above photo is enlarged to 100%.  Notice that both of the little ornaments are in focus.
Holiday ornaments, Christmas, raccoons, christmas tree,
Same little ornament scene but this time photographed with a 50mm lens.  I had to move the camera closer to the scene with the camera and tripod.  The lights in the background have the great bokeh that makes people  want when they use the 50mm lens.
Holiday ornaments, Christmas, raccoons, christmas tree,
The above photo was enlarged to 100%.  I used a 50mm lens set at f/1.4.  Notice that both little raccoons are soft.  My focus point is the little raccoon on the left.  Its eyes are in focus but the soup can is soft.  The raccoon on the right is totally soft.  

Recapping, the 50mm f/1.4 lens gives a great bokeh or blown-out-background.  Yet, if you shoot it at f/1.4 the depth-of-field is super shallow.  The lens should be used at an f/stop appropriate for the subject.  You’ll also need to get closer to the subject than with the 70-200mm lens.

Hope that helps.  I’d let you borrow my 50mm if you used a Canon.  It doesn’t get much use.

Holiday Lights — Make a Sequence GIF

My friend, Patti Edens, and I spent the evening at Magical Winter Lights in LaMarque, Texas, last week.

The lighted displays were a lot of fun to photograph.  As you see from the slideshow below, there were huge and amazing lighted objects to photograph.  We had our cameras on a tripod and used an f/22 most of the time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A different display was a lighted cube.  It was pink, red, and purple outside but filled with disorienting colors inside.

Outside the cube was a huge silhouette of a potbellied man.  The words “In the city where beauty and pain integrate, I am the most perfect stain,” by Fan J.

How funny to see a huge pink cube in the middle of a lighted holiday display.  Yet the cube captivated our eyes.

Magical Winter Lights KAC1327
Patti silhouetted against the pink wall.
Magical Winter Lights KAC1329
Me against the giant pink wall.

Camera settings were pretty basic.  Camera on a tripod, set at Aperture Priority, f/22, and ISO in a moderate range like 400 or 500.  For the silhouette photos, we just stood pretty still.

Magical-winter-lights-me-walkingKAC

For this GIF, though, we used a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the walking.  That meant changing the f/stop to a f/4.5 giving a shutter speed of 1/40th.  The shutter speed gave us a bit of blur but not too much.

Fun playing with lights and our cameras.

(Instructions how to make a GIF are in December 6, 2017 blog post on this site.)

Porteen Gear Camera Bag

My Porteen Gear Camera Bag is here and I’m enjoying taking it out in the field.

Click here if you missed my post about Porteen Gear Camera bags a month ago.  This is my YouTube video showing my bag.

The Porteen bag is amazing and I’m loving it.

Porteen Gear Camera Bag KAC7578
Here’s my custom designed Porteen Gear Camera Bag at Eleanor Tinsley Park in Houston.  This is a great bag for carrying a small selection of equipment around the city.
Kathy Adams Clark KAC6784_1
My Porteen Gear Camera Bag can be rugged, too.  Here it is out in the Chihuahuan Desert of Big Bend National Park.

 

Kathy Adams Clark KAC6785_1
The Porteen Gear Camera Bag looks nice even in a rugged setting.  Yet, it carries the equipment I need for a short outing.

Design and order your own Porteen Gear Camera Bag today!

Thanks to Patti Edens for the photos!

Storm Clouds with Macphun Intensify

We had some great desert lightning storms during my recent workshop in Big Bend National Park.  Each of the images below is a composite of several lightning strikes to make the scene more dramatic.  The images have then been processed with Macphun Intensify to bring out the details in the clouds.

Lightning storm KAC082017
Composite image of lightning strikes in Big Bend National Park.
Lightning storm KAC082017stackintensify
Same image with a touch of intensity added thanks to Macphun Intensify
Lightning Storm KAC6989_7097intensify
Composite image of several lightning strikes.  Then processed with Macphun Intensify to enhance the clouds.
Lightning Storm KAC6989intensify
Single image of magnificent storm clouds in Big Bend National Park.  A touch of drama was added with Macphun Intensify.

I love what Macphun Intensify does to bring out details in a photo.  Thanks to a full range of sliders, I can bring out details and drama that enhance my photos.  Intensify really does “bring out the hidden beauty” of a photo.

Porteengear Camera Bag

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 7.27.36 PMPorteengear Camera Bags have me so excited.  I can’t wait for my new bag to arrive.

For years I’ve used a LowePro Passport to carry my cameras and lenses when I’m out photographing the streets or  an amusement park or traveling light with my equipment.  My LowePro Passport carries a camera, two lenses, and flash plus wallet, cellphone, and bottle of water.

But things have changed and Porteengear is in my life.  Well almost — my bag will be here in two weeks.

Porteengear offers camera bags that you design yourself.  On the Porteengear website you enter the custom design page.

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 7.12.24 PM

You choose the size of your camera bag from tiny bag to one that will hold your laptop.

  1.   You select the flap design.  Options include a bit of accent color or fabric to a uniform color.
  2.    Then the fun beings.
    1. You can select  the overall bag covering including tooled leather, snake skin, aged leather, or even Damask.  There’s a Vegan fake leather option.
    2. Then you select your second leather color.  For example, black with tooled leather.   Maybe teal leather with a some subtle brocade.    Maybe distressed leather with a nice tartan plaid for a more masculine look.
    3. Next you select the color of the outer shell of the bag.
    4. Then you can select the interior color of the camera bag.  All my camera equipment is black so the last thing I want is a black-colored interior.  Select a bright color or a dark color.  The interior color of your camera bag is your choice.
    5. We get to choose the color of the strap.
    6. We get to choose antique hardware or traditional.
    7. Then there’s an option to add a dust flap and/or luggage sleeve.

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 7.22.37 PM

All those options are live on the screen.  That means you can design several bags and then make a final decision in a couple of days — or maybe after consulting your friends.

screen-shot-2017-07-14-at-7-23-48-pm.png

Need help designing your bag?  Head to Porteengear’s Etsy page to see bags designed by the pros.  Click the Shop option on the Porteengear page and see bags already designed for you.  Order one of those or use the design as a starting point.

My new Porteengear camera bag!?  I’ll show you in a couple of weeks when it arrives.

 

Macphun Free Launch of Beta Luminar for Windows

 I’ve been working with Macphun’s Luminar on my Mac and love it.  PC users can now get a beta version of Luminar for Windows.  Free!

Here’s the Press Release from Macphun:

Macphun makes free public beta of Luminar for Windows available for download 

 

San Diego, CA – July 13, 2017Macphun, the California-based developer known for delivering award-winning products for Mac, today launched the free public beta of its award-winning photo editor Luminar for Windows. To download the beta, please visit macphun.com/beta.

Luminar is a powerful photo editor designed to tackle anyone’s photography needs, from correcting challenging image problems to artful stylizing. Users can choose between levels of image processing complexity based on their experience, and adapt the workspace controls to their skill level, moving up to more advanced modes as they learn. Luminar works in non-destructive fashion and aims to take “work” from photo editing “workflow” for photographers worldwide.

In April, only 5 months after its launch, Luminar for Mac won the prestigious TIPA award for Best Imaging Software 2017. This all-in-one photo editor is a cutting-edge solution for creating fascinating images without extra hassle. Luminar includes over 300 robust tools that make fixing, editing and perfecting a photo as easy as moving a slider.

“We are thrilled to release our first PC product today and give photography enthusiasts around the world the first taste of our best-selling Mac product,” said Kevin La Rue, Vice-President at Macphun. “By test-driving Luminar for Windows, beta testers can help shape our software and make the final release a perfect fit for everyone,” concluded La Rue.

 The public beta is free of charge and already matches some of the most important features of Luminar, such as the newest and most advanced tool developed by Macphun’s Research and Development Lab – the Accent AI Filter, powered by artificial intelligence technology. The filter allows anyone to create stunning images with a single slider, substituting for dozens of traditional controls like shadows, highlights, contrast, tone, saturation, exposure, details and many others.

Admittedly, several features from the Mac version of Luminar remain in development for the Windows platform, among them workspaces, plug-in integration, object removal, noise reduction, and more. As these are completed, the public beta will be updated regularly leading to a full cross-platform release late in 2017.

Key features of the Luminar for Windows public beta:

  • Adaptive user interface – Exactly matching the Mac version, the software adapts to the skill level and preferences of the photographer.
  • One-click presets – Over 50 pre-defined styles for every photography style.
  • Photo Editing Filters – Over 40 custom filters, each with built-in visual tips and a unique set of easy-to-use controls for correcting, enhancing and stylizing images.
  • RAW file conversion – Support for the latest RAW file libraries.
  • Non-destructive workflow – Edit without fear.
  • Recommended System Requirements – Windows 10, Core i5 2.2 or better, 8GB RAM, 1GB GPU RAM, SSD with 20+GB free space.