Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Makes Apple Great... The Apple Battery Charger

They pay attention to details... And they make everything, not only functional, but also look really, really good!

I mean, how many battery chargers out there are museum-worthy pieces?

So get yours here!

Shots made with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens. Want the best backpack for your DSLR? Check out my review of my favorite, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW, here and here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chicago River Architecture Tour by @wendellaboats

It was the middle of summer, it was sunny but not too hot, and it was my birthday.

It was perfect!

The wife planned it perfectly. We took the boat tour, I shot some wonderful pictures of the buildings of the beautiful Chicago Skyline and then we had dinner along the river.

It was a perfect day to spend my birthday and I'd like to thank the wife for making it one.

Shots made with a Canon 7D and a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens. Want the best backpack for your DSLR? Check out my review of my favorite, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW, here and here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Always Keep A White Balance Card Handy

Getting the white balance correctly in-camera has always been a must for me. Even though I shoot in RAW, I always make it a point to get the white balance right so that I won't have to dabble with it so much in post - the lesser I have to do in post, the better.

Or, another thing I always try to do is have a white balance reference card in at least one of my shots. I can then use that to sync my photos later when I transfer the images in my computer.

(Take note, however, that you should have a reference point for every lighting situations: if the lighting set up changes, then you will have to shoot your grey card again.)

I always have my X-Rite Color Checker Passport in my camera bag. This is a very good reference to have: you can have a reference for landscapes and portraits; you can choose to warm up or cool down your photos; you can even use it to calibrate your cameras.

But for those times that I don't have a camera bag, or occasionally when I forgot to transfer the Color Checker Passport when I change camera bags, I always have an emergency reference card in my wallet.

The Opteka Pocket-Sized Reference Color & White Balance Grey Card Set (yes, it's a mouthful) is something that I always have in my wallet. It is a relatively cheap set of white, grey and black cards that you can put in your wallet. And since I always have my wallet, thank goodness I haven't forgotten my wallet yet, I always have an emergency reference point whenever I forgot my Color Checker.

Sometimes I choose not to change the white balance of my photos, sometimes it doesn't even matter when I convert my photos to black-and-white. But when I want to be precise about the color of my photos, I always have a reference card to make my work very easy.

So get yours here:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Symmetry in the Windy City (@CPLFoundation)

These photos were made while touring with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

This is the feature as seen from the side:

There is actually a chandelier hanging from the ceiling...

For a related article regarding the Chicago Architecture Foundation, check out my post here: The Windy City in a Minute - Miniatures in the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Shots made with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens. Want the best backpack for your DSLR? Check out my review of my favorite, the Lowepro Versapack 200AW, here and here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Promontory Point in Chicago

If there's one thing that I've learned about living in Chicago is that you should never neglect the warm weather: if it's there, enjoy it, for the next day, or week, would bring back cooler temperatures. Heck, the night after that warm day may require a thicker jacket!

And so, when warmer weather arrived for a couple of days, the wife and I trekked towards Promontory Point in the Chicago south side.

(Also, I just finished Devil in the White City so I thought it was apropos to go there...)

Yes, a wind breaker was still necessary but hey, the next day after the wife and I went there, a thicker jacket was required if you want to go outside.

The wife and I enjoying the "warmer" weather.

A close up of the Chicago skyline

This is what a 14x zoom can do.

Museum of Science and Industry

So, are you moving to Chicago? Never ever neglect the warm days that will come your (our) way.

Shots made with a Canon Powershot SX230 HS.

Post processing done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I've Seen the Future of Canon DSLRs and I Like It!

[N.B. I really do not know what the future is for Canon DSLRs. I am just speculating here. It would be nice if I'll be privy to some Canon secrets, and Apple secrets as well, but I am not at that level yet. I wish and hope I would be in the future...]

Canon, with the T4i, released a couple of lenses last friday. I can see that the T4i is a very good upgrade since, according to Gizmodo, the T4i is "as close as a DSLR has come to using an easy camcorder." I believe that, despite the higher price compared to DSLRs of the same capabilities but at a lower pricepoint, the T4i will do to the Rebel series what the Canon 5D Mark II has done for DSLR videography in general.

However, I am more excited about one of the lenses that was announced together with the T4i: the 40mm f/2.8 pancake.

This is the first time Canon has released a pancake lens. But what really got me excited more is that this is an "EF" lens - this means that this new lens can be used on all Canon DSLRs that can accomodate the EF mount.

Now, why am I excited?

Well, and this is where I am already speculating, Canon is really in the process of making the next generation of cameras, Trey Ratcliff's so-called Third Generation SLRs. This is, after all, the reason for "pancake" lenses: smaller lenses for smaller, mirrorless "SLRs". I know, I know, that's a contradiction in terms...

But more so, what got me really pumped is that the new pancake is an EF mount which means that, when Canon finally comes around to revealing that new line of SLRs, all the EF mount lenses will still be compatible! So now, the fear of buying an EF lens has somehow abated: you can buy an EF lens and still be able to use it when the next batch of cameras come around.

The EF mount lenses will be compatible with the third generation cameras and the future EF mount pancake lenses will be backwards compatible with the existing Canon DSLRs.

One thing though: I would be greatly surprised if ever the current EF-S lenses will not be compatible with the next-gen Canon cameras. It would be counter-intuitive...

(The track made by Canon here is different from what Nikon has done with their 1-series. If you want to use your old lenses, then you will have to buy an adapter, albeit with some limitations.)

So, I think that we are now seeing glimpses of what Canon is trying to achieve and I am happy that, if I'm proven correct, that Canon has chosen this path.

So, do you want to have a taste of the future? Pre-order yours here:

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Best Camera Specification You Should Be Looking Out For

With the advent of the Canon Sxxx series (like the Canon S100) and Gxx series (like the Canon G1x), you'd think that the megapixel wars is now over. Alas, it is not yet completely thawed...

People are made to believe that the number of megapixels determine the quality of the pictures: it does not. it's just that the number of pixels on a photo is the easiest thing to sell because you immediately see its outcome - believe me, if you shoot a lot of these huge megapixel photos then you will soon find yourself wondering where all your harddisk space went.

So, do you really need all those megapixels?

Well, in this facebook/twitter dominated world, where people don't actually print pictures anymore and just view stuff on their portable devices, you only just need about 2-3 megapixels. Why? Because there is no screen in the world that can show your 40 megapixel photo in its actual size. [For comparison IMAX is only 27 megapixels and your HDTV only has 2.1 megapixels.]

So what should you consider when you're out to buy your next camera?

It should be this: the camera's sensor size.

This is the thing that determines the quality of the pictures. The bigger the sensor size is, the better your pictures will be. But of course, you should also consider the size of the picture for a given sensor size: the camera with the smaller megapixel count will produce much better photos for the same sensor size.

Oh, and yes, even if you have the biggest sensor size in your camera, you still need to learn about composition, rule-of-thirds...

Things that make a compelling picture...


Below are the Canon cameras with bigger sensor sizes. If you want to produce good quality photos, don't give in to camera makers, or sellers, that tell you that bigger megapixel counts are better. Ask rather what the sensor size is.

[NB: I am not saying that Canon cameras produce much better pictures, nor do I say that Canon is the only camera maker that produces cameras with bigger sensors. It's just that I am more familiar with Canon since I shoot with this brand. I am not one to go into, nor start, a brand war.]

Monday, June 4, 2012

The 57th Street Art Fair (@57thStArtFair) in Hyde Park

If you're in a photography block, like a writer's block, then one thing you can do is go to an art fair…

There were a lot of things on display and the wife and I greatly enjoyed our time in the Hyde Park Street Art Fair

We spoke to some of the artists and got some souvenirs in the process. It was nice to pick other artists' minds and it was also nice to know how they started and what keeps them going. All of their stories were very inspiring. I have to say that I got a lot of ideas from conversing with them. (Oh, and I'd like to thank the wife for telling me to gather the strength to strike a conversation. I am The Shy Photographer after all...)

I wish that, someday, I would be able to display my wares in a similar event also. That would be extremely nice.

Here are some of the photos I took that day.

Shots made with a Canon Powershot SX230 HS


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