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Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L – 1/1250, f/4, ISO 100

June 30, 2007 at 12:12 am by | Categories: Post

Capitol at Sunset

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Utah’s capitol building lit with the golden hue of sunset.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – .4 second, f/22, ISO 100

June 29, 2007 at 6:11 am by | Categories: Post

Out to Pasture


I photographed this old truck on an abandoned farm in Draper, Utah. Shooting it just before sunset captured the wonderful gradient tone in the sky. I used a strobe to fill in the shadows a bit.

Thanks to fellow photographer Dale for giving me a heads up on the location of this old farm.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/100 second, f/8, ISO 100

June 28, 2007 at 7:58 am by | Categories: Post

Filling with Flash


Today’s capture is an example of using fill light to add to a photo. While photographing at an abandoned farm, I came across this interesting weed and shot it against the setting sun. If I had taken the shot without the fill light, the picture would just be a black silhouette. The addition of the flash allowed much more of the weed’s detail to be seen.

My typical exposure settings for using a fill flash in daylight is to adjust my strobe (a Canon 430EX) to an exposure setting of negative 2/3 f-stop. This allows shadow areas to be illuminated without making the shot look like a flash was used.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/8000 second, f/4, ISO 100

June 27, 2007 at 12:18 pm by | Categories: Post

Removing Dust on the Sensor of a Digital SLR


Shooting with a digital SLR camera provides a lot of benefits over non SLR models, but the increased functionality comes at a price – sensor dust. Since an SLR camera is an open system (one that allows users to change lenses) the probability of dust entering the camera is nearly unavoidable. Learning to deal with dust is a part of owning a digital SLR.

After I made the move from film to digital, the discovery of dust on my camera’s sensor was a major shock. But now after a couple years of shooting digital and dozens of sensor cleans, I now look at it as just a minor annoyance.

There are two types of digital SLR shooters – those that have dust on their sensor and those that will have dust on their sensor. I believe that every photographer should learn how to handle it. Here are the steps I take with my cameras.

To see if you have dust, stop your camera down to its smallest aperture (usually f/22-32) and take a shot against a blank scene (blue sky works well). The dust will show up as dark blotches. The photo above shows numerous dust spots that I recently had on my Canon 5D. Keep in mind that these spots will only show up on photos taken with smaller apertures and they can easily be removed in post-processing, so you don’t have to obsess over cleaning them daily.

I use a few different items to clean my camera sensors. My kit consists of a manual bulb type blower along with sensor cleaning swabs & fluid.

Sensor Clean 1

The first step I take in cleaning is to set my camera into “SENSOR CLEANING” mode. This is a menu function that opens the shutter and locks the mirror up allowing access to the sensor. Since moving these out of the way uses power, be sure to have a sufficiently charged battery before starting.

Sensor Clean 2

Once I have the camera in cleaning mode, I remove the lens and blow off the sensor with the bulb blower. I do this with the lens opening aiming down to allow the dust to exit. Take care to not touch anything inside the camera with the tip of the blower. If I only have a few dust spots, this will frequently be the only step necessary since the blowing air will dislodge the dust.

Sensor Clean 3

To remove stubborn dust spots, I use the sensor cleaning solution with a swab. This is the most effective method for me. I put a few drops of solution on the swab and make two passes across the sensor – once in each direction. I use very little pressure on the swab. It is very imperative to only use a swab once on each side to avoid re-contaminating the sensor with previously removed dust.

Sensor Clean 4

Note that most camera manufacturers state in their user manual that you are to never touch the sensor with anything and using this method can risk voiding your warranty. However, if you took your camera in to be professionally cleaned this is probably the method they will use.

Sensor dust is part of the price we pay for shooting with the great digital SLRs that are available today. The internet is full of stories of photographers obsessing about every little speck of dust. Don’t be like these shooters and let it consume you. Learn how to clean your own sensor when needed and spend your time worrying about the next great photo instead of a microscopic piece of dirt.

(Was this helpful? If so, please DIGG it.)

June 26, 2007 at 10:07 am by | Categories: tutorial

Capitol Fountain

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Capitol Fountain, taken at the Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/640 second, f/4, ISO 100

June 25, 2007 at 8:12 am by | Categories: Post

Lighting a Historic Room – Part II

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Today’s image is another room from the SugarHouse mansion that I recently photographed. The purpose of the shoot was to assist an organization in documenting the historic building.

My goal in lighting this room was to show outside detail in the windows while evenly lighting the interior. To accomplish this I placed a Canon 430EX speedlite behind the floral arrangement aimed toward the back wall. The speedlite was diffused with a Lightsphere and set to 1/2 power. I then used two monolights diffused with white umbrellas in the corners to the left and right of the camera.

While the lighting setup was fairly simple on this shot, the tricky part was eliminating reflections in the three windows. Since the windows are each at different angles, the placement of the lights left little room for error. Nearly every reflection was avoided, save for a slight one on the right window.

Another challenge with this room was the bookcases above the windows. I wanted to provide enough light to show depth in the openings but still leaving them somewhat dark. The placement of the monolights in the corners achieved this. I had to raise the lights a bit higher than I initially wanted (creating more noticeable shadows), but the trade off was worth it.

Of all the rooms I shot that day, this one was my favorite. I love the curved wall and the custom woodwork.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/15 second, f/6.3, ISO 100

June 24, 2007 at 6:43 am by | Categories: tutorial

The Blue Marble courtesy of NASA

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Today is one of the rare times that I post a photo that I did not take. This incredible capture of our planet is in response to the comment PSpotter left on yesterday’s entry. Have a great weekend.


NASA’s latest hi-res image of Earth. Download more of this at: visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2429

This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.

Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device-NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite, MODIS provides an integrated tool for observing a variety of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric features of the Earth. The land and coastal ocean portions of these images are based on surface observations collected from June through September 2001 and combined, or composited, every eight days to compensate for clouds that might block the sensor’s view of the surface on any single day. Two different types of ocean data were used in these images: shallow water true color data, and global ocean color (or chlorophyll) data. Topographic shading is based on the GTOPO 30 elevation dataset compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center. MODIS observations of polar sea ice were combined with observations of Antarctica made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s AVHRR sensor—the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer. The cloud image is a composite of two days of imagery collected in visible light wavelengths and a third day of thermal infra-red imagery over the poles. Global city lights, derived from 9 months of observations from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, are superimposed on a darkened land surface map.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group; MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).

June 23, 2007 at 8:29 am by | Categories: Post

We Have Liftoff


Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/800 second, f/4, ISO 100

June 22, 2007 at 7:15 am by | Categories: Post

Portrait for the Pageant

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My two daughters are participating in a scholarship pageant this summer. One of the requirements of the event is that the entrants provide a black & white photo for the pageant publication. The girls requested that we have a special photo-shoot for these photos.

Today’s photo is Elisabeth’s favorite from the shoot. This hair adjustment pose was not planned, I just happened to catch her as she rearranged her bangs. The left hand in the hair along with the serious expression combine for a rather dramatic shot.

The lighting setup consisted of a softbox above the camera with an umbrella providing fill to one side. A third light was used to wash out the white background.

Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/60 second, f/9, ISO 100

June 21, 2007 at 12:53 am by | Categories: Post