Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review - Joby UltraFit Sling Strap

As Travel Photographers we spend a lot of time on our feet and it is not unusual for us to walk up to 20kms a day and sometimes this can be every day for a couple of weeks. We used to use the conventional neck straps but this was causing a lot of neck strain. Sure, we could always wear the strap over our shoulder however this was not practical and quite awkward when wanting to take a shot. There was also the option of the Joby UltraFit Hand Strap however we find these impractical in Travel Photography as it is always good to have both hands free at all times.

As a result we started using the Joby UltraFit Sling Strap (see the demo video below - No Sound) a few years ago and wow, it really does make a huge difference. The camera now goes over the shoulder and hangs securely to the side of your body. It has a small locking clip that will allow you to depress which will keep the camera tight against your body instead of swinging around. When wanting to take a shot just lift the locking clip and the camera seamlessly slides up to eye level and your ready to go.

There are quite a few brands on the market however we have found the Joby brand to be quite cheap yet well made. The more expensive brands seem to have more padding around the shoulder areas which would possibly be a little more comfortable however we're sure you could probably modify the Joby strap should this be required. There's also offers a model for Males & Females. We strongly recommend this product as it will take the strain off your neck over long periods of time and certainly save you a visit to the Physio or Chiro with neck problems.

HDR Software - Photomatix Pro

We have been using Photomatix Pro software by HDRSoft for quite a few years and although these days we now manually blend our bracketed images in Photoshop we still use this software quite often. For those of you interested in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography then this software is a must for you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with HDR photography it is simply capturing several images to cover the dynamic light range of a scene. It is usually best to shoot these when you are confronted with a high contrast scene for example a scene with a bright sky and foreground shadows.  We shoot practically all our HDR's at -2,0,+2 (underexposed by 2stops, Normal, overexposed by 2stops). Check out the video below titled "Photomatix Pro - An Introduction". It only runs just over 4min and will give you a general outline of how the software works. HDRSoft offer a 30 day trial of the software for you try out although any saved images will have a Photomatix watermark across the image. If you are interested in purchasing then visit HDRSoft and use the code "widescenes" to receive a 15% discount. The normal price is USD$99.00.

If you have any questions about this software please drop us a comment.

Monday, 13 April 2015

How to photograph Fireworks

MSC Orchestra in Sydney, Australia. The first visit to Australia by a ship operated by MSC Cruises (Italian). We were fortunate enough to be invited onboard the ship during the day for an inspection and lunch which was spectacularly good. We've been on several of their cruises in the the Mediterranean when shooting for our 4 Cruising the Mediterranean books.This vessel is now on its way to the Mediterranean for a cruise to Gallipoli in Turkey for the 100 year anniversary of the ANZACs on the 25th April. 

Later that evening we took the shot below. This is a composite which was shot on the Sony A7r with a FE 24-70 F4 Zeiss lens. The benefits of using a camera like the Sony A7r is that you have 36mp of information to play which makes the final result still large enough to produce a really large print.

How did we shoot this? Here are the steps for capturing the image.

  1. Using a tripod we composed the image and set the focus in Manual Mode. 
  2. We first took some images without the fireworks that were underexposed for the bright lights in the images such as the front of the ship and also some overexposed images for the Opera House and darker areas in the image. 
  3. Once the fireworks started we just kept taking shots continuously with our remote cable release. Each images was about 10 sec with an aperture of F11. 
  4. Once we had the images in Photoshop it was just a matter of blending the layers together to lighten the shadows and darken the highlights and paint through the best fireworks from each layer.

Any questions just drop us a comment.

Fireworks over Sydney Harbour in Sydney Australia to celebrate MSC Orchestra's first visit to Australia

2016 Travel Photography Tours

We've put together our 2016 Photographic Tours to quite a few exotic destinations and some repeat tours to the Pacific Islands. These tours will be open to all levels of Photography and will be a great way to improve your photography while travelling with other like-minded people. Naturally we will be on all the trips to guide you on your creative journey. We are asking for Expressions of Interest, so make sure you let us know if any of the tours are of interest to you (no commitment!). Click here to visit the page or click on the banner.

Topaz Labs - RAW to Ready - A Photo Editing Workflow

We have been using Topaz Labs software for a few years now and they have some fabulous plug-ins that will really allow you to be creative with your images. Check out the video below titled "From RAW to Ready - A Photo Editing Workflow". It runs for just over 55min so it's pretty detailed but will outline several of the plug-ins including Adjust, Clarity, ReStyle and Glow and how they can transform your images. Enjoy!