Saturday, December 12, 2009

2010 Photo Calendar For Sale

My 2010 Photography Calendar is now available for sale! This year's theme is Water, and both the standard and extra-large version feature 13 gorgeous photos that showcase nature's most precious substance.

Through the end of the year, you can get one of these gorgeous calendars for less! Use code BUY2010 at checkout to get 15% off ($10 max discount). Offer ends 12/31/2009.

If you need it by Christmas, check out the Lulu Shipping FAQ for your ordering deadlines.

The cover of the extra-large calendar:

2010 Water Calendar Cover

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Learning the 50D - Turning Off the ALO

I've just made the jump from the Canon 30D to a Canon 50D. Faster burst rates, twice the megapixels, bigger, brighter LCD, I couldn't wait to get out and do some shooting.

My first sets of test shots showed, me two things:

First, some of my lenses need to go in to the manufacturer for service. That's another post.

Second, and the subject of this post, was noisy shadows. Noisy, nasty shadows, even at ISO 100. The speckles of red, green and brown, were especially noticeable in areas that were supposed to go pure black.

"What the ___?" was my first thought. "Oh, crap, do I have a bad sensor?" was my second. I worried that I was going to have to send my brand-new camera in for warranty service inside the first week.

But before I completely panicked, I did some Googling, and found other folks discussing the same problem. The root cause was not a defective sensor, but rather Canon's Auto Lighting Optimizer (ALO).

This "feature" is turned on by default, even when you're shooting raw. It tries to bring up the shadow detail in photos, which introduces sensor noise there.

So, I dug through the custom functions menu and turned ALO off, ran back outside, set the flash back up, and reshot. Low and behold - the sensor noise the shadows was gone!

I'm sure there situation where ALO is a help. But if you're planning on shooting anything dramatic, with black backgrounds or deep shadows, you'll be a lot happier turning it off. Pictures like, say, this one:

Rainy Day Rose - v2

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Moving Forward

I've been saying I'm going to do more with photography for several years now. This year, I've finally been stepping up to the plate and doing it.

This blog, is part of that "doing more." I'll be discussing photos, techniques, and tools. I'll talk about things that worked, and mistakes I've made, and show some interesting photos.

Wood Ducks at Dawn