O. Winston Link

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The Last Steam Railroad in AmericaWhile visiting friends over the holidays, I was handed a book titled “The Last Steam Railroad in America” featuring the photographs of O. Winston Link. The photos, from the 1950s, were of the Norfolk and Western Railway. Many of them were taken at night. I was stunned by their quality and amazed that I had never heard of this master of photography until now.

Canon Wonder Camera

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Canon appears to be betting that the days of the DSLR with interchangeable lenses are numbered! Well, not quite numbered, but you'll see what I mean...

10 ways to improve your photography

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old cameraIn the spirit of the Internet where just about everything is in the form of a few easy-to-read tips, here is a list of ideas that I hope will inspire you. They are all points that I keep revisiting in my own photography and are a great reminder to myself.

Nikon D7000 with monolights

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I arrived at my client's yesterday to do a product shoot. They have recently invested in their own Nikon D7000 camera with the objective of allowing their technical authors to grab photos and videos for instructional materials. As I teach photography classes in San Diego, I am always looking to try out new cameras and the D7000 is a new camera model, so why not make use of it and leave my camera safely at home?

No pc flash synch port - naughty D7000!

What? No socket?

After I had my studio strobes set up, I picked up the D7000 and the bad news struck me immediately. No pc synch port on the camera! I don't use wireless triggers to fire my strobes, relying instead on the old fashioned method of plugging in a synch cable to the back of the studio flash and the other end into the camera. Unfortunately, the new Nikon D7000 lacks the pc flash synch port.

Back at my office I had a hot shoe adapter for pc synch. It was a long drive back downtown and I did not want to abandon the shoot to go get it. After a quick think I came up with a solution.

My Alien Bees studio flash units can either be fired in a wired together mode or as wireless slave units. I usually connect my synch cable to just one of the units. When that unit is fired by my camera, the other units fire in sympathy as slaves. This works fine as long as there are no other flashes in the vicinity. Another camera flash will set off my strobes. Once, I was photographing on a stage in Korea when a family came into the hall and started photographing a couple they had brought along. My flashes went crazy and I had to link them all with sych cables so they ignored the extraneous camera flashes. An older set of monolights I worked with would also flash if they were positioned too close to flourescent lights.

I decided I could use this problem to my advantage. I went into the custom settings menu on the D7000 and turned the built-in flash mode to manual. Then I turned the power down all the way to 1/128 power. I was using my Alien Bees at full power, so the minimal power setting of the flash was not going to affect the exposure. Manual flash also has no TTL pre-flashes, so my strobes fired at the correct time.

Problem solved. However, when I had finished I discovered that my client had also bought an SB900 external flash. This has a built in pc synch socket, so I could have just mounted that on the camera and plugged my synch cable into it. You live and learn!

Wet weekend in San Diego

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The November weekend in San Diego has been a wet one. I decided to take advantage of the wet streets and got up before dawn to do some downtown photography. There's nothing like shooting in the city when the streets are wet and the city lights reflect in the pavement. I particularly like shooting black-and-white , but this morning I wanted to shoot one of the last remaining pieces of neon in downtown. So, with my wife accompanying me we headed to Pacific Highway and Fat City - China Camp.

DSLR Sensor Cleaning

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This week, I was at a client's photographing a number of product components, when I noticed a hair appearing in photos. I examined the lens I was using and found it clean, so the problem had to be on the senor filter. I gently wiped it with a Pec Pad and the hair disappeared, but there were still several smudges left, so today I decided it was time to give my camera a good cleaning.

It has been awhile since I thought about cleaning my camera sensor. My latest camera has a self-cleaning system, which basically means that the sensor vibrates when the camera turns on to shake off dust. It's fairly effective, but it doesn't get rid of everything.

Night Photography on Coronado

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downtownLast night we met on Coronado for the Introduction to Night Photography workshop. As usual, it was a lot of fun. It was a very nice sunset. We first did some shots of downtown, then practiced painting in foregrounds with light. After that, we did some playing around with slow synch flash.

Boat Trip to Point Loma Lighthouse

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Last week, I took a group of about 15 photographers on a boat trip to the entrance of San Diego Harbor to photograph the lighthouse against the sunset. The weather was overcast on the way out, but by sunset the horizon was clear and were were presented with some great light in which to photograph the lighthouse. Everyone had a great time!

Novelty camera key chain

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keysA kind friend just sent me a gift of this novelty camera key chain. Although it doesn't actually take pictures, it looks very real. When you press the shutter release it gives out a surprisingly strong flash and a realistic camera sound!