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How to Shoot 360×180 Degree Panoramas with a Panosaurus Panoramic Tripod Head

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Required Equipment: Panosaurus

17th Street Causeway BridgeShooting 360×180 degree panoramas usually requires a special tripod head. Trying to shoot this kind of panorama hand held would not be an easy task. Each picture has to overlap by 25-30% not to mention the likelihood of seeing parallax errors in the final image. Parallax errors occur when the camera rotates around a point other than the no parallax point of the lens. The bottom line is that the shots can’t line up properly if there are parallax errors. I have gotten great results with an inexpensive Panosaurus panoramic tripod head. Click here to read my review of the Panosaurus.


To stitch the images together I rely on two programs. Hugin is free software and does a great job with a 360×180 panoramas shot with a fisheye lens such as the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. If you use an 18mm lens, then Serif PanoramaPlus X4 is a better choice. Each program has its strengths; what one can’t stitch together the other can. Click here to read my review of PanoramaPlus. Your camera may have come with software that can stitch together panoramas but don’t expect it to work with a 360×180 degree panorama. Click to continue »

2011 Gift Guide

Monday, October 17th, 2011

My Top Picks

Apple iPad 2 MC775LL/A Tablet (64GB, Wifi + AT&T 3G, Black)

If you plan to use the iPad to display your photos, get this model which has 64GB. The 3G network isn’t manditory but I have found myself wishing that I had gotten the 3G version when there isn’t a Wi-Fi network in the vacinity. iPad apps such as NIK Software’s Snapseed and Adobe’s Photoshop Express make this gift a no brainer — display and edit your photos. Who can resist that combination?

Eye-Fi Pro X2 8 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card

The Eye-Fi Pro can wirelessly send your photos to your computer, iPad, iPhone, Picassa, Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube. When combined with an iPad or iPhone, you have got a great combination that works with or without a Wi-Fi network. The Eye-Fi can now create its own network for the iPad or iPhone to join! The new iPad software for the Eye-Fi is much easier to use and can now change the configuration of the Eye-Fi card. This is a welcome addition to the software. Some digital cameras can even communicate with the Eye-Fi card. Other versions of the Eye-Fi card to consider are the Eye-Fi Connect X2 or Eye-Fi Mobil X2.

Epson Stylus R2000 Wide-Format Wireless Inkjet Printer

Pigment inks that last a 100 years, individual ink cartridges, accepts paper up to 13″ wide, and wireless 802.11n support round out the features of this robust printer. The ink is Espon’s Ultrachrome Hi-Gloss pigment ink. The Epson Stylus R2000 can even print on glossy, matte,  fine art paper and canvas. Being able to also print on ink jet printable CD/DVDs is a bonus. It can also load cut-sheet or roll paper in sizes up to 13″ wide.

Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro gives you incredible control over the look of an HDR image. You can produce images that range from natural to extreme and everything in between. It comes with many presets that help you to instantly create dramatic results. This software is my first choice when creating HDR images.

Framed Artwork

Of course, you should have guessed that my gift guide would not be complete without mentioning my own photographs. You can order many different sizes to fit your budget. The prints can be framed or mounted on foam core. There are even gallery wraps available.

You can also have your own photographs framed or mounted by going direct to MPix. This is the company I use for printing and framing the artwork ordered through my gallery.

Review: Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 APO DG OS

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Sigma 150-500mm LensSummary: The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras is a huge, heavy lens. Be prepared to use a monopod or tripod with this lens.

Review: The lens weighs 4.2 pounds and is 3.7 inches in diameter by 10 inches long when at its shortest length. This is the longest lens I have owned so please bear with me if I write about some things that anyone would already know if they owned an ultra-telephoto lens.

The build quality is solid. The only thing that feels cheap is the lens hood which is made out of a relatively thin plastic that feels like I could crack it if I squeezed it too hard. It comes in a well padded case and two straps — one for the lens itself and another for the case. It is good that they included a strap for the lens because I’m not so sure that I would want my camera to support the burden of this lens hanging around my neck. Click to continue »

My Favourite DSLR Lens

Monday, August 8th, 2011
My Take: I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 but this article makes me want to try out the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The prime lens I own is the Canon EF 35mm f/2. The reason I purchased it was because it would give me about the same field of view as a 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera but I haven’t decided if I really like it, yet. So far, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of sharpness. My other two lenses spend about the same amount of time on my camera. They are the kit lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, and the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS.

I’ve been photographing with a Canon DSLR camera for over 5 years now and have been lucky enough to use quite a number of different lenses over that time. Some of these I’ve owned while others I’ve either rented or borrowed from friends and family. In this article I’ll discuss my top 3 lenses and try and pick a favourite. Click to continue »

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Portrait Photographer’s Relaxation Technique

Friday, July 15th, 2011
My Take: This post does a great job of explaining how to put a client at ease but you also have to take into consideration your equipment. Many photographers have switched to flash or fluorescent lights so that their client will not bake under traditional tungsten lights. Sweat usually isn’t attractive in a portrait. If you use fluorescents, make sure they are bright enough. You don’t want the lights to be too close to the subject. You also need the correct lens — a lens in the 85mm to 100mm range works well because you won’t have to be right on top of your client to get proper framing. Being too close makes a client feel claustrophobic and will invade their personal space.

Yet another beautiful young lady strides confidently through the plaza with her cotton summer dress dancing in all the right ways. Her auburn hair streams out behind in perfect step with the undulations of her dress and sparkles in the midday sun. As a photographer, you can’t help but marvel at her poise and sense of purpose.

She takes a long glance at herself in the shop window without ever missing a step. She strokes her long thin fingers through her hair and takes another look. We know what she’s thinking, and we think she’s beautiful too.

But this confident young lass has a secret. A deep dark secret. Click to continue »

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Canon 60D vs. T3i

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
My Take: This isn’t a bad comparison of the two cameras but I don’t think that digital zoom is a useful feature. It degrades quality and should not be used.

When you think about the Canon EOS 60D vs Canon EOS Rebel T3i, you may ask if there are enough feature differences to substantiate the production of two digital SLRs in the mid-level DSLR market, especially when they are produced by the same company. It is definitely a gutsy move by Canon to release both these cameras. From outward appearances, they seem to be targeting the same group of buyers, entry-level and photo enthusiasts. Click to continue »

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Softbox Light Kit on a Budget

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I found a bargain softbox light kit that I have been recommending to my students. In another post, I mentioned that I had made my own light kit out of 1″x2″ lumber and clamp-on lights when I was in college. For under $250.00 you can get a light kit that includes 2 light stands, 2 softboxes, 1 boom kit, and a carrying case. You can’t beat it for the price and I’m not so sure that you could build it for that much.

It is bright enough for me to have used it in a classroom with students handholding their shots while doing portraiture. The lights were six to eight feet away from the subject. The boom also has a softbox. I prefer these fluorescent lights because they don’t generate a lot of heat.
Click to continue »

Portrait Mode for Canon Digital Cameras

Sunday, June 26th, 2011
My Take: The tips in this article apply to any digital camera with Portrait mode. Portrait mode opens up the aperture so that distracting stuff in the background is out of focus and the subject becomes the focal point.

Portrait Mode is a simple to operate exposure selection on our Canon EOS Rebel T3. Like the Green Zone, a Rebel T3 set to Portrait Mode will make almost all of the decisions for the photographer. In fact, other than the shutter button, none of the override buttons or dials will function with the camera set to this mode. Click to continue »

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Review: Hoodman 3.0 Hoodloupe

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Summary: OK, so I feel a little dorky having the Hoodloupe hanging around by neck but I don’t care because it makes it possible to see my LCD in the brightest sunlight. Click to continue »

Back Button Focusing*

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

If you find it frustrating that your camera focuses and sets the exposure when you slightly depress the shutter button, there is a solution. Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras can separate auto focus from the shutter button and use a button on the back of the camera instead. They don’t call it back button focusing but that phrase does a better job of describing the feature. You will find the setting buried in the custom commands. I first came across the setting when reading Digital Landscape Photography by John and Barbara Gerlach. I decided to give it a try and have kept the setting ever since.

*Digital Landscape Photography, John and Barbara Gerlach, Focal Press, ISBN 978-0-240-81093-5