Monday, 9 July 2007

24-120mm AFS VR f3.5-5.6

What a lens, this little baby packs a lot int such a small size and eliminates carrying around a few lenses to cover the range as well as saving on changing lenses. A real bonus when the action heats up or when shooting in a dusty environment.

This lens gets a lot of stick for not being fast and not being super sharp but it does what I need it too and that is the important thing. And the 1 meter wide prints look awesome! This and the 12-24 are my work horse lenses for climbing images. Two lenses and such a huge range is great for a light weight setup when working at the cliff.

The 72mm filter size messes with the filter system I have been using for years (every other lens I use filters on the front of has a 77mm thread) but I just carry a step up ring to sit between the 72mm lens and my 77mm filters.

The VR is awesome, especially good when you cannot use a tripod like when hanging from a rope. The VR won't freeze the action but can assure sharper backgrounds and foregrounds when swinging in the breeze 100m off the deck.

Nikon 12-24mm AFS DX

The Nikon 12-24mm AFS DX is the lens to have if you are shooting landscapes with a Nikon digital body. What we lost when we sent from 35mm to the smaller APS sized sensor is more than made up for but this lens. Sharp from edge to edge and a constant f4 aperture this is a fab lens to get digital shooter back to the real wide angle. It shows very little distortion even at 12mm which means all your lines will appear straight and you can even use a filter with out vignetting.

If you see me out in the field this guy is usually with me. Even when I am shooting birds and mammals with a long lens this will probably be in my pocket ready to grab a habitat or scenic shot.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Photoshop Actions

First up is a tip on how to save time when doing repetitive tasks inside Photoshop. Using 'Actions' is a way to record a set of instructions than can then be played back and applied to an image with a click of a button. An action can even be applied to a folder of images or a selection from Bridge. this is how I create the images for each blog post. Instead of having to resize, add layers, drop shadows and text to each image every time I post I have saved an action so all I have to do is open my image and click play. So how do you do this? Follow along and we will recreate the action to make the image above.

  1. Open an image in Photoshop and apply any edits you wish, levels, curves etc.
  2. Open the Actions Panel (Window>Actions) and create a new action by clicking on the little piece of paper icon on the bottom of the panel.
  3. Enter a name, I called mine "Blog Jpeg" and click Ok.
  4. Now you will see the record button turn red and anything we do will be added to the action. If you make a mistake press the stop button and drag the errors from the list to the bin in the actions pallet to delete them. Step back in the history states (Ctrl + Alt + Z) until you get back on track and then press record to start adding to the action again.
  5. So to begin with we need to change the resolution of the image to 72dpi. Press Ctrl + Alt + I to bring up the image size dialog and change the Res to 72 and click Ok.
  6. Now we need to change the size of the image, if we use the Fit Image command rather than Image Size, our action will work on both horizontal and vertical images. Bring up Fit Image (File>Automate>Fit Image) and enter 400 in both boxes. Click Ok.
  7. Next we need to add a white background to the image. Double click the background in the layers pallet. Leave everything as is and click ok. This turns the BG into a layer. Hold down Ctrl and click the new layer icon (piece of paper) which will create a new layer UNDER the existing layer.
  8. Select Canvas Size from the Image menu and change the units to percent. Enter 110 for both Width and Height. Using percent means our action will again work for horizontal and vertical images.
  9. Press Shift + Backspace and choose white from the use menu to fill the new layer with white.
  10. Press stop and you now have an action than can be applied to any image to make a smaller version (440pxl along the longest side). You can add text to the action, drop shadows and even a 'save as' command so it will automatically save you images to a predefined location. Add anything you can think of so you save time in front of the computer and spend more time shooting.
Happy Shooting

Photo captured with D2x, 200mm Micro and Nikon 5T +1.5 diopter

I too can Blog

Well it has taken a long time but we have finally set up a blog. This is designed to take over from the newsletters that have gotten fewer and fewer in the last 12 months as things have been getting busier around here.

The blog will be updated as much as we can with anything interesting to report. This will include info on new equipment to help you expand your photographic vision, tips for better shooting and tutorials and hints on how to maximize the quality of your images in the digital darkroom.

We will also use this to keep you up to date with up coming appearances and workshops so hopefully this will keep you interested. We will even be updating this from the field as we have a couple of extended trips coming up and hope to keep you abreast of whats going down while we are out and about.

Anyway I hope this finds you all well and the weather isn't limiting you too much.

Happy shooting.

Photo captured with D2x, 24-120mm. A 6 second exposure creates the misty effect due to the waves moving during the shot.