New Nikon Cameras in PhotoActive Shop

Two new Nikon Cameras are due to be released later in August – both are available to order now from the PhotoActive Camera Shop.

nikon d3000 and 18-55mm VR lens

The new Nikon D3000 DSLR


Technical Details:

  • 10.2M Nikon DX format CCD sensor
  • 3.0″ hi-res LCD monitor
  • New Guide Mode for easy operation and enhanced picture taking skills
  • 11-point autofocus system for tack sharp results
  • Active D-lighting for shooting in high contrast conditions
  • This comes complete with the 18-55mm VR lens for just £499.99


nikon 300s camera body

Second release is the new Nikon D300S Body only


Technical Details

  • 12.3M effective mega-pixels with EXPEED image processing
  • D-Movie with stereo microphone terminal
  • 51-point AF system for comprehensive frame coverage
  • Dual card slots for CF/SD memory cards
  • Magnesium alloy body with anti-dust and moisture sealing
  • This is available for order now at £1499.99



Technical Details
10.2M Nikon DX format CCD sensor
3.0″ hi-res LCD monitor
New Guide Mode for easy operation and enhanced picture taking skills
11-point autofocus system for tack sharp results
Active D-lighting for shooting in high contrast conditions


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Understanding light in photography

Understanding the quality and direction of light is so vitally important if you want to produce good photography. It is arguably the most important ingredient in a photograph that attempts to capture the atmosphere or ‘feel’ of a particular place.

Yes, of course, the choice of subject is paramount, but if you photograph that subject in inappropriate light – the impact and message of the photograph can be completely lost and wasted. In fact, the image may even send out the wrong message altogether.

I confess to a degree of disappointment that I have had to remove the PhotoActive Forum section about Light and Lighting Technique. Hardly anyone used it or posted questions about light.

Does this mean that everyone out there understands all about light? Maybe I’ve done too good a job with my instructional DVD ‘Light and Composition’.

Or does it mean that people really do not appreciate the significance of an understanding of light and the impact this can have on their photography? Perhaps they believe the subject is so obvious that it is not worthy of discussion?

photograph of Loire FranceMy approach is simple – learn about light FIRST – before you even think about buying expensive gear and gizmos.

When I speak of light, I am not thinking about ISO, exposures, ‘f’ numbers or shutter speeds. At worst, the camera can sort all that out for you.

I am talking about the ability to recognise the direction, quality and colour of light. These aspects are quantifiable. Once the photographer can recognise them, he or she can use them; often change them by bodging light into places it can do most good and excluding it from places it has no right to illuminate.

The wonderful thing about all this is that it can cost nothing. Little or no equipment is needed most of the time – just an awareness, just an understanding, just the ability to use what is there. It is non technical, it makes a massive difference to pictures taken with the simplest of cameras. It is the root of all good photography.

The picture was taken on the Loire in France. There has been no post processing trickery. This is how the negative was taken. The light is high quality back light. The image has been kept deliberately simple in an attempt to capture the unique atmosphere of the place. A green filter was used to lighten the tone of the grass. The picture was taken for the travel pages of The Sunday Times



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Free Photoshop tuitorials

Free Photoshop tutorials will be posted regularly on the PhotoActive Forum very soon. Forum member Brian Straiton will be posting  how to articles about digital editing.

Brian has access to the following editing software via friends and his local camera club. To begin with, he will be doing instructions for basic tips.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and 7
Adobe Photoshop CS2 – CS4
Capture NX v2
Lightroom 2.

Brian has access to the following editing software via friends and his local camera club. To begin with he will be doing instructions for basic tips before moving on to more advanced techniques

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and 7
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2 – CS4
  • Capture NX v2
  • Lightroom 2.3

Brian is a disabled ex-serviceman who is having a few problems getting out and about with his camera at the moment. He is looking forward to your feedback and questions through the PhotoActive Forum.

You will find Brian’s posts in the Digital Image Editing Forum – you will need to be a registered member of the forum to gain access to all the screen grab images.

Photoshop Elements 7 is available from the PhotoActive Camera Shop for just £60.47

Below is a short video of Brian at work during his one-to-one photography course with Philip Dunn. He is seen snapping away on Kirkcudbright harbour earlier this year

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuvv0dOJGr8[/youtube]



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Photographing the Normandy Beaches


Delving through my archive of black and white film negatives looking for a particular image for a magazine client, I came across these photographs of the Normandy Beaches in France.
In exactly the same way that family snaps can conjure happy memories from the past, so, too, can the sight of a pro’s old working shots bring back a flood of memories and emotions felt at the time the pictures we taken.
In the case of these two photographs I was reminded of my thoughts when I first set eyes on, and photographed, the War Graves in France. I remember being in tears as I walked along the immaculate rows of gravestones and saw for the first time the staggering scale of the human sacrifice that freed Europe and eventually brought World War II to an end.
We have all seen the old black and white films the D Day Landings shot from the landing craft as the troops prepared to hit the beaches of Normandy. Those ramshackle houses behind the beaches, the spurts in the water and sand as the bullets hit and the men fell.
When I went down to the beaches after photographing the War Cemeteries, my spirits soared to see families with children playing in the sand – now washed clean all these years later. This was exactly what those men died for – freedom.
So when I took at these two photographs of children playing on the Normandy Beaches, I was uplifted. And when I look at them now I feel the same way.
At a time when our police forces, politicians and bureaucrats are busy chiselling away at our hard-won individual freedoms – I think back at the sacrifices made by so many to gain those freedoms in the first place.
Since photographing the Normandy Beaches and the War Cemeteries of France, I have photographed many more War Memorials all over the world.
My response is always the same – tears and the hope for the future.
No more pontificating for a while.
Both photographs were taken with a Nikon F3 using a Nikkor f2 24mm lens. Fuji Neopan 400 film

Delving through my archive of black and white film negatives looking for a particular image for a magazine client, I came across these photographs of the Normandy Beaches in France.

Normandy beaches photographed by Philip Dunn

In exactly the same way that family snaps can conjure happy memories from the past, so, too, can the sight of a pro’s old working shots bring back a flood of memories and emotions felt at the time the pictures we taken.

In the case of these two photographs I was reminded of my thoughts when I first set eyes on, and photographed, the War Graves in France. I remember being in tears as I walked along the immaculate rows of gravestones and saw for the first time the staggering scale of the human sacrifice that freed Europe and eventually brought World War II to an end.

We have all seen the old black and white films the D Day Landings shot from the landing craft as the troops prepared to hit the beaches of Normandy. Those ramshackle houses behind the beaches, the spurts in the water and sand as the bullets hit and the men fell.

When I went down to the beaches after photographing the War Cemeteries, my spirits soared to see families with children playing in the sand – now washed clean all those years later. This was exactly what those men died for – freedom.

So when I took these two photographs of children playing on the Normandy Beaches, I was uplifted. And when I look at them now I feel the same way.

At a time when our police forces, politicians and bureaucrats are busy chiselling away at our hard-won individual freedoms – I think back at the sacrifices made by so many to gain those freedoms in the first place.

Since photographing the Normandy Beaches and the War Cemeteries of France, I have photographed many more War Memorials all over the world.

My response is always the same – tears and the hope for the future.

No more pontificating for a while, I promise.

Both photographs were taken for The Sunday Times with a Nikon F3 using a Nikkor f2 24mm lens. Fuji Neopan 400 film

Normandy landings beaches, France




Do you really need a long telephoto lens?

My ideal camera would be invisible, absolutely silent and weigh nothing. Saldly, there is no such camera.

With smoothness, quality and silence in mind, I once bought an entire set of Leica camera gear. I am still in love with the viewfinder camera concept and for the travel photography I decided the Leica M6 was perfect.

travel photography - southern Brittany

On the first foreign assignment with my Leica gear one of the brand new bodies seized solid. I hired a set of Nikon equipment so that I could carry on working. On my return home I telephoned Leica and they very kindly said they would of course repair or replace the faulty camera body. I was told that this would take anything up to nine weeks.

When I told them I was a professional photographer and needed the gear much quicker than that, there was a disdainful sigh. “That, Sir, is our professional service.”

The whole load of Leica kit went straight back to the shop and I got rid of the lot. I lost a great deal of money, but swore never to buy another Leica as long as I lived. A pity because I still like them.

Anyway, I became a confirmed Nikon man after that. I can not think of a single occasion when they have ever let me down – and believe me I have given them some very serious abuse.

In order to cut down on the weight of the kit I had to carry around, I decided that unless I had a specific assignment that definitely needed a long telephoto lens, the longest focal length lens I would carry with me all the time would be my 180mm f2.8 Nikkor.

This system worked extremely well, and I am always amazed when I see my students arrive for a photography course with great bag loads of kit including some tremendous telephoto lenses.

I still believe that the longest telephoto lens most of us need for everyday photography – including people, landscapes and townscape, is a 200mm equivalent. And that, of course, for most digital cameras means an actual focal length of around 135mm.

Within this range of focal length, high quality, faster lenses with bigger apertures start to be affordable.

Think about it next time you are tempted with a very long telephoto lens.

The picture above was taken in Southern Brittany for The Sunday Times using a Nikon F3 and a Nikkor 180mm f2.8



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Keen Nikon photographer

Now this is what I call a keen Nikon photographer. I photographed him – Nikon DSLR by his side – during one of our photography holidays in Menorca. He was not with our group of snappers, but we came across him while we were photographing people in the town square in Mahon.

Keen photographer emailing his imagesHe told me he had been trying to pick up a free Wi-Fi hotspot and now that he had finally found one, he was keen to make the most of it by emailing some photographs to his friends back home in Germany. None of that nonsense about paying in an internet cafe for him!

I forgot to ask if he was doing any image editing in Photoshop or just sending his images straight from the memory card.

He got the PhotoActive prize for Most Frugal Photographer of The Week.








If you’re that keen on Nikon cameras – you can buy them in the PhotoActive Camera Shop


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Club Photo Competition success

PhotoActive student Peter Frisby has achieved his first success in a photographic competition with a third prize at the Smethwick Photographic Society – one of the biggest and most active photography clubs in the UK. In fact at least three PhotoActive students are members of the Smethwick Club

PhotoActive photography student Peter FrisbyPeter, pictured left snapping away in Menorca, emailed me to say his success gave him “More of a thrill then passing my driving test and that’s saying something”. Well done Peter.

Smethwick Photographic Society meets all year round and has activities with tuition on various nights of the week. They have monthly merit comps all of which are judged by an outside judge.There are 3 sections Novices, Intermediate and Advanced. Peter came 3rd in the Novices section in a competition for Digital Images.

This was Peter’s second attempt. The first was a Mono print comp and he was unplaced.

Peter is looking forward to the next club competition, which will be for colour prints. He has taken a course on Colour Management which he  says he ‘sort of understands’.

“I have bought an Epson printer and a decent monitor so I am into it in a big way. There’s no hope!!” he adds.

Peter has been to me for individual one-to-one tuition and also on two Photography Holidays in Menorca. He and his wife Mary have become good friends.

I think Peter’s picture has an extraordinary ‘impressionistic’ quality that reminds me of the work of French artist Georges-Pierre Seurat, who perfected the art of ‘pointillism’ in his paintings. One of Seurat’s most well-known works is Bathers at Asnieres. There is a similar two-dimensional quality and a soft ‘milkiness’ in the light.

No, Peter, I’m not saying you have quite reached the artistic heights of the French Impressionists just yet, but that picture of yours does have a very appealing quality. It is simple and has an intriguing narrative that draws the viewer right in.

Smethwick Photographic Society prize winner

Olympus E-3
Olympus Zuiko lens 70-300mm
Shutter Speed 1/1250 sec
Aperture f 9.0
Manual Exposure Mode
ISO Speed 200

I love his photograph, which Peter says was taken on a short break in Suffolk. I think I might have just cloned out the end of that umbrella sticking out of the bench, though.

Below is Seurat’s Bathers at Asniere

Georges-Pierre Seurat - Bathers at Asniere

You can buy similar Olympus camera gear to that used by Peter – in the PhotoActive Camera Shop

olympus E-520 on PhotoActive Camera ShopYou can buy the latest Olympus E-520 DLSR complete with 14-42mm lens – £369.95





Olympus zuiko 70-300mm lensYou can also but the Olympus Zuiko lens 70-300mm in the PhotoActive Camera Shop for just £307.94

Converting colour images to grayscale

How do I convert a colour image into grayscale – black and white – in Photoshop?

Well, I do this by using the RGB (Red Green Blue) Channels.

There are other ways and I’m not saying that mine is the correct way – in Photoshop there is always more than one way to do a job.

First make a backup copy of your colour picture and save it.

The simplest way is to go to Image > Mode > Grayscale. You will then be asked if you want to discard the colour information. Click Yes if you want to continue. Photoshop will then merge all three RGB Channels and create a completely colourless greyscale image.

Fine, but merging all three channels like this can often create a flat, lifeless image.

So it is worth looking more closely at those Colour Channels because sometimes better black and white results can be achieved by converting just one channel to Greyscale rather than merging all three.

There are two main ways to access the Channels palette. Go to Wndow > Channels. Then open the Channels palette. You will see the RGB mixed channels colour thumbnail at the top of the palette. The Red, Green and Blue channels can be seen below this as a black and white thumbnail. Click on any of these channels to view the effect immediately in your image.

You can also view the effects of each colour channel simply by using quick keyboard shortcuts without going into the Channels palette.

Ctrl+1 for the Red Channel
Ctrl+2 for the Green Channel
Ctrl+3 for the Blue Channel
Ctrl+~ (that’s the wiggly tilde) to return to RG
B

When you have chosen what you think is the best channel to get a good black and white image, Go back to Image > Mode > Grayscale. This time you will be asked if you want to Discard Other Channels. Click Yes or press Return to dump these other channels.

You now have your black and white image. Save it if you like it.

Choosing a particular channel in this way can greatly enhance your black and white images. Usually it will be the Red or Green Channel that produces the best results. The Blue Channel is normally the worst.

Converting colour images to grayscale

 

converting colour images to black and white

The RGB colour photograph above left was converted to BW by chosing only the Red channel

There’s no doubt that a basic understanding of Channels comes in very useful, so make a couple of copies of your images and have a play. The fact is that I see more dull, grey, wishy-washy black and white images than I can shake a stick at – so now’s your chance to really get some tone and contrast into your black and white photographs.

Remember, once the colour is gone and the image saved – it’s gone for good. So make backup copies and work on those.

Footnote: I apologise to all British English speakers for the American ‘grayscale’ spelling. But that’s the way it is in Photoshop.

Jacobs Digital Photo Bestsellers

A new PhotoActive page now shows the bestselling digital photography equipment from Jacobs.

Camera gear, descriptions and prices will be updated automatically by Jacobs Digital Photo.

Jacobs digital photo bestsellersGo to Jacobs Digital Photo Bestsellers

This is the start of a plan to bring you the best photography gear and prices. I hope to add a price comparison page so that you can see at a glance what is available and save money.

Jacobs is the biggest independent photographic equipment retailer in UK.


Digital image manipulation

Post production manipulation of an image in Photoshop should be done with a gentle touch. Photoshop is a wonderful and very powerful tool and in the wrong hands the results it can produce can be appalling.

I take the view that I will do anything in Photoshop that I was able to do – or wanted to do and was unable to do – in a darkroom. I do not like digitally manufactured images. They leave me cold. But I do appreciate seeing a good photograph brought to life by gentle and creating skills in post production.


A simple photograph - but one that has had its visual appeal accentuated slightly in post production

A simple photograph - but one that has had its visual appeal accentuated slightly in post production

To my mind, the key is the ability to envisage exactly what you want to do on the computer at the time you take the photograph. In the same way, I knew precisely what I would do in the darkroom when I lifted the camera to shoot a film image.

Viewed this way, post production on the computer becomes an integral and essential part of the creative process of taking photographs. It is absolutely wrong to believe that the photographic process stops when you have pressed the shutter button. This is like saying that the film photographer would never adjust the exposure time to suit a particular negative when it was placed in the darkroom enlarger (how many photographers know what an enlarger is these days?).

The same photograph as it was captured in the camera and before I accentuated its main visual elements

The same photograph as it was captured in the camera and before I accentuated its main visual elements

The film photographer had a great many things he could do to change a photograph after it was exposed – choice of developer and development times could alter contrast and grain texture. Dodging and Burning in the enlarger (yes – you do that in Photoshop now) would help accentuate particular elements of the composition and disguise others.

And when the print was made – what did the photographer do to hide the zits on his model’s delicate complexion? Why he spotted them out with ink or picked the off (the print) with a scalpel.

So I present two images here as an example of how I am prepared to use post production on the computer to convey and accentuate the visual qualities of a scene that I saw at the time of taking the picture.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out which photograph I prefer.

You can buy Photoshop Elements 6 in the PhotoActive Camera Shop for just £51.26