Review: Comparing Circular Polarizing Filters – Hoya HRT CIR-PL UV vs. Singh-Ray LB Warming CP

Hoya HRT CIR-PL UV filter

Hoya HRT CIR-PL UV filter

Singh-Ray LB Warming Circular Polarizing filter

Singh-Ray LB Warming Circular Polarizing filter

Comparing Circular Polarizers

I have two circular polarizing filters in my camera bag that seem to perform about the same…but do they? I did a simple test with my camera to find out. Here’s how they compare:

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When to Use a UV Protective Filter on Your Lens

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… Because a Protective Filter Can Be Your Friend … or Enemy

There are only a few times when I want to use a protective filter on my camera lens, and here’s why:

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The Rule About Rule-breaking in Photography

Here's looking at you.

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Why Should You Break the Rules of Photography?

Photographs can start to look all the same. Look at any great site like 500px for example and you will find a lot of really great photos. But, they’re all about the same in technical quality and composition. Sure, different subjects, but still there is a “sameness” to them.

This is not surprising at all. Everyone in photography strives to get the best shot possible and to follow the rules of good composition. These are the things that make great photos. But it is consistently the rule-breakers that stand out in any crowd, isn’t it?

So you should stand out and you should break the rules at some point in your photography. But, when?

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Werner Herzog’s “Life Rules” and Photography

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Werner Herzog’s “Rules” and Photography

Werner Herzog’s “life rules” (my term, not his) appear on the back of the latest book about this great film director as written by Paul Cronin. I find them uniquely suited to photography and have written my own interpretation and use of each.

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Photography Book Reviews

I’ve read several photography books and here are my short reviews on some of them. I am mostly a landscape, nature, and travel photographer, so I have read more of these types of books than others, but there are books in here for any photographer that I would recommend! Continue reading

Naming and Describing Photos – A New Idea

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The Dreaded Photo Title and Description

I should have better titles for my photos but I absolutely hate trying to come up with a catchy name for a photo. I often just name a photo whatever it looks like, for example “Shore Birds” for a photo that shows a bunch of birds on the shore. The description also follows the same form – just describing what it is that is in the photo.

This is not very good.

I would like to have better titles and descriptions because this could potentially excite prospective buyers into buying my photos. But, coming up with titles is difficult and I needed a way to do this.

Below: An Example of a Bland Description from My Instagram Account @larslentzphotography

A bright green tree #frog hiding in the garage door.

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I looked at what other photographers are doing for their titles and descriptions, and they fall into one of two different categories:

  1. Weak – Titles and descriptions are just like I’ve already described and are not very exciting at all.
  2. Over-the-Top – Crazy descriptions and fantasy-sounding titles that really don’t make me want to buy or even take the photographer seriously.

These are both bad, and clearly a better system is needed to describe and title photos. Continue reading

Getting the Correct Color in Lightroom and DxO Software

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DxO and Lightroom

When used together, DxO software and Lightroom work very well. However, I noticed an issue with my workflow and it was the color of the images. The greens and reds were noticeably stronger in DxO than in Lightroom, for the exact same photo. Here’s what I found out was the problem… Continue reading

Care What YOU Think

Who can't be happy on a beach?

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The Caring Trap

As a photographer, you probably care a lot about what other people think of your photos. Right? This is not a bad thing. The opinions of others is often the only way you’ll get the feedback you need to help you progress in the quality of your photography. But, don’t take it too far, or you’ll fall into a nasty trap.  Continue reading

Winter = Cold = Clarity!

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 Winter, Cold Weather, and Clarity

For clarity in your photos, the cold of winter is one of the best times available! You will consistently get sharper, cleaner-looking outdoor photos in winter than at any other time of the year. Why? Continue reading

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Native ISO and Noise

ISO Settings In Your Camera

ISO settings can drastically affect your photos and you should know where to set the ISO in every circumstance.

Your goal as a photographer is to both get the shot and to have an acceptably low-noise photo as a result. High ISO levels result in higher noise levels in your photos. The best ISO level for the least amount of noise is your camera’s “native ISO.” Native ISO (also known as “Base ISO”) refers to the ISO level that is where the camera sensor’s “fullest” light level corresponds to the same level of fully exposed film. The details are unimportant, but it is important to know the following: Continue reading

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite – Removing People from a Beach

Removing People from a Beach

This is a short video that shows some of the capabilities of OnOne Perfect Photo Suite. In this video, I show how to remove people (and a dog) from a beach photo very easily (and almost magically) using OnOne Perfect Photo.
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A Photo Critique

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A Photo Critique

Here is a photo (small version above) that I posted to Nature Photographer’s Network. Click the photo or the link [here] to visit the page. It will be up for about a month after this post. There you will see the helpful critiques you can get on your photos if you post them there. I would highly recommend it, but also remember to take the criticism with care – it is not all helpful. Here are some of the critiques so far… Continue reading

Easy Night Sky Photography

Milky Way

How to Take Great Night Photos

What a lot of people don’t know is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to take great night photos. The Milky Way, stars, and Moon are all within your reach. You can get some extremely cool-looking photos of them without a lot of effort. Here’s how…
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B+H Photo Video

B&H Photo Video is my recommended vendor for any photography equipment. They are based in New York and have the best sales, selection, and customer service that I have experienced.

Photo Artifacts in Stock Photography Submissions

“Artifacts”

If you’ve ever submitted a photo to a stock photo site such as iStockphoto, Bigstockphoto, Fotolia, or any of the stock and microstock photo sites, then you may have heard from them that “your photo has artifacts.” But what are these “artifacts” they speak of? And, more importantly, how can you get rid of them?

Some Guidelines (from my experience)

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Expose to the Right? – NO! Go left!

Exposure

“Expose to the right” has been a popular saying and method of exposure for digital photographers for years, and it works in some cases. I’ll show you how to go the other way and make it work also. Maybe the time of “expose to the right” is almost over (in some cases). Here’s why… Continue reading

Maximum Lens Sharpness – The “Sweet Spot”

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What is a lens’s “sweet spot?”

Everybody wants sharp and focused photos. You can get good sharpness near to far in a photo by hyperfocal focusing, but what are the limits of sharpness of your lens? At what aperture (f-stop value) will you get the sharpest photos? This is also known as the “sweet spot” of the lens. Here is a simple test you can do to find out where your lens is sharpest. But first, some basic rules…

General Rules for Lenses

The rules are about the same for every lens. Here are the general ones: Continue reading

How much camera do you need?

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How Much Camera Do I Really Need?

The question inevitably will come up: “How much camera do I really need?”

It’s not possible to know the answer to this unless you know what you will do with the camera.  But, here is a rough guide:

  • Pro: the most camera you can buy for the money, dSLR, of course.
  • Semi-pro: not more than a 15 Mp dSLR (Canon T1i/D500)
  • Amateur: a high-end point and shoot (Canon G-series)
  • Hobbyist: a compact point and shoot (Nikon L-series)
  • Novice: a low-end point and shoot (maybe even just a camera phone)

This is a proven list by the way.  I’ve lived it and I own those listed above.

What am I?

“But, what am I?”, you ask. Well here is another list for that: Continue reading

Copyright Your Photos

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Why Copyright? Why not?

With the software for image processing and the cameras available today, is there any reason why someone would not apply copyright information to their photos?  Why, yes, yes there is — it’s called “oversight” and “stupidity.”  For as easy as it is, there really is no excuse not to apply your copyright to your images.  Protect them.  They’re yours.

I use Lightroom software to import and touch up my photos, and there is a provision for applying copyright information to the metadata of your image right at the point of import.  I simply fill in the field that applies metadata and save it as my own preset.  When the photos are imported from my camera into Lightroom, the copyright notice is automatically applied.

In-Camera

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The Importance of Light in a Photo

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How Important is Light?

Light is everything. Everything. Light is everything to a photographer. Light is more important than the subject. A good subject but bad light = a bad photo. Good light wins every time. Continue reading

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite – Some Capabilities Shown in a Short Video

Improving a Photo

This is a short video that shows some of the capabilities of OnOne Perfect Photo Suite. In this video, I show how a photo of a pelican with a bunch of distracting stuff in the background can be improved.
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Storm Light

What is “Storm Light?”

“Storm light” is a special kind of outdoor lighting that occurs usually just after a storm has passed. The atmosphere is usually full of small particles of dust, rain, and ice, and this creates a unique coloration of the sky and land. It is one of the best, most difficult, most dangerous, and rarest of times to shoot landscape photos. Continue reading

The Sigma DP2 Merrill Camera

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The Strangest but Most Wonderful Camera

The Sigma DP2 Merrill is about the strangest camera I’ve ever used, but at the same time it is one of the very best also. The list of weird things about this camera:

  1. No viewfinder – only a screen on the back.
  2. X3F RAW files – a weird format that almost nothing reads except Sigma’s own software.
  3. No built-in flash. (Yay. Never use it anyway.)
  4. Huge files – Image size is 4704 x 3136 (15 Megapixels) but the RAW file is a whopping 44 Mb.
  5. No zoom. A fixed lens with no zoom capability. If you’re used to using a zoom to get a shot, this will feel super awkward.

More limitations far below, but first, the great things about this camera (and this is a truly great camera)…

The True Photographer’s Camera

These weird things though are minor compared to the feeling this camera gives a true photographer. By “true,” I mean the photographer that remembers using a film camera with a hand wind on it.

Aim. Shoot. Hand crank the film roll. Repeat.

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My old Zeiss Ikon Contaflex 35mm camera.

This camera will make anyone into a better photographer and make them feel like a true photographer. Here’s why: Continue reading

What topics would you like to see in a book about photography?

I value your opinion:  What topics would you like to see in a book about photography?

Please click your answers below. Choose multiple chapter titles from my list or type some of your own, then click the vote button. Thank you very much for your help!

How to Export a Video for Vimeo

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Why Vimeo?

Vimeo is a video hosting platform similar to YouTube, but with much better video quality. I have started putting my videos on Vimeo because the user experience is so much better. True, there are not as many hits as on YouTube because YouTube is much more popular, but as a photographer I want the best picture quality in my videos. That better video quality available on Vimeo means I need to render or export my videos with the settings that work for Vimeo.

Vimeo Video Settings

Here are the settings I’ve successfully used: Continue reading

Bit Depth and Why it Matters!

DxO TIFF ExportEver Heard of Bit Depth?

Many people have never even heard of “bit depth” so they don’t know what it means to them and their photography. Even if you have heard of it, maybe you don’t fully understand it. I didn’t, at first. Here’s what I have learned: Continue reading

Instruction Manuals

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Believe it or not, it is very important to keep those instruction manuals that came with your cameras.  With the complexity that is inherent in almost every high-end digital camera sold today, it is nearly impossible to master all features of your camera right out-of-the-box, or even years later (as in my case). Continue reading

To Re-work or Not to Re-work Old Photos?

To Re-work or Not to Re-work? That is the question.

Times change. Your expertise and the capabilities of your photo editing software do too. They improve. You can do more with a photo today than you could 6 months ago. But should you go back and re-work those “old” photos?

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Camera Straps

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The only thing keeping you from dropping that expensive digital camera of yours is the camera strap.  Whether it is a hand strap or shoulder strap type, you had better have it on your camera if you want to avoid an expensive repair. Here are some recommendations:

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