Sensor Cleaning – Is it just a big scam?

•September 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I know that by this time most readers have converted to digital cameras and many of you are using digital SLR cameras.  So you might be wondering about the need to have your sensor cleaned.  Well, that happens to be a service that I offer, so maybe I’m a little biased in my answer, but I do have evidence to bolster my position.

A Sensor before cleaning.This image shows a sensor that came in to me for cleaning.  This is an actual image shot by the camera, no it is not doctored in any way.  Truly, that much dirt makes a big difference in every image that you shoot, and unless you want to spent your life dust-spotting your images, it could be a wise idea to have your sensor cleaned.

Can you do it yourself?

Of course you can, but without investing in the right equipment, you could be risking a costly repair.  Yes, I have seen videos on the Internet about how easy this is to do.  If you believe that it is easy to do, then by all means; have at it.  Just make sure you do this to your own camera first.  That way you are not going to ruin anybody else’s camera.

But my camera has a built-in sensor cleaning function.

Yes, it may have, but when it is done shaking dirt and debris off your sensor it has to go somewhere.  I have cleaned many cameras that have built-in sensor cleaning functions, and they have a lot of dirt accumulated at the bottom of the sensor.  Unless somebody goes into that chamber and removes the dirt, it is going to remain there and continue to be redeposited on your sensor.

Photography Studio Equipment for sale, the items now remaining…

•February 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As many of  you know from my previous post on this blog, I am downsizing my studio and have many items that need to find a new home.  I will start posting photos and prices here tonight.  I must warn you that these items are priced to sell, so if you have any interest, please don’t delay in contacting me.  Please NOTE: ALL of these items are used and all are priced for you to pickup in Wichita, KS.

You can reach me by email at: jeff.cowell@gmail.com and please be sure to be specific about the item(s) you want.

If something is missing from the list when you look here again, that means it has been sold.

Below are remaining items and some of the items have been reduced to move now.

MANY ITEMS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SOLD, SO THIS LIST IS SHRINKING FAST.

3176c1a 3178c1a 3179c1a 3180c1a

Square Softbox with Bayonet Mount Speed Ring , approximately 34.5″ square.
$40

3181c1a 3183c1a 3184c1a 3185c1a

Fotodiox Softbox with Universal Mount Speed Ring, approximately 23″ square.

$35

 

1 Pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles.

1 Pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles.

1-pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles. These poles are complete with top and bottom caps and are in good condition.

Although it is not pictured here, this pair of poles will also include ONE 2951 extension.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$125 / Pair

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles with a matching pair of extensions.  These poles are complete with top and bottom caps.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$175 / Pair

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension, complete with top and bottom caps (however, one cap is beige instead of black.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$80

3213c1a

JTL 1000 Stand – #5015, 10′-6″, 4-sections, reversible stud (for Strobe or background crossbar), air-cushioned.

$40

3212c1a

JTL B-909 Background Stand, 9′-6″ tall, 4-section, air-cushioned, single stand included in this sale.

$30

3211c1a

JTL 900 Stand # 5114, 9′-6″ Light Stand, 4-sections, reversible stud (for Strobe or background crossbar), air-cushioned.

$35

3209c1a3210c1a

Medium-duty Light Stands, 3-sections, 5/8″ strobe mounting stud, spring cushioned, 8′-6″ tall

$35 each, 2 available.

3202c1a

Wood Bar Stool, great for posing subjects in the studio.

$25 

3203c1a

Posing Column, square styling, measures about 10″ x 12″ x 36″ and is nice heavy-duty construction.

$50 

3224c1a 3223c1a

TwistFlex Chroma Blue/Green Model TF-03-3, 3′-6″ x 5′ two-sided background with Chroma Key Blue / Chroma Key / Green

$40 each, 2 available.

3222c1a

Posing Table, on casters, adjust from about 27.5″ to 38.5″

$75

3220c1a 3218c1a 3216c1a 3215c1a 3214c1a

Bucket/Pan, Ball and Egg (all sell as one item)

$5

 

Photography Studio Equipment for sale…

•January 28, 2013 • 6 Comments

As many of  you know from my previous post on this blog, I am downsizing my studio and have many items that need to find a new home.  I will start posting photos and prices here tonight.  I must warn you that these items are priced to sell, so if you have any interest, please don’t delay in contacting me.  Please NOTE: ALL of these items are used and all are priced for you to pickup in Wichita, KS.

You can reach me by email at: jeff.cowell@gmail.com and please be sure to be specific about the item(s) you want.

If something is missing from the list when you look here again, that means it has been sold.

3176c1a 3178c1a 3179c1a 3180c1a

Square Softbox with Bayonet Mount Speed Ring , approximately 34.5″ square.
$40

3181c1a 3183c1a 3184c1a 3185c1a

Fotodiox Softbox with Universal Mount Speed Ring, approximately 23″ square.

$35

 

Hanging Expans-style background rack with 3 rolls of paper.

Hanging Expans-style background rack with 3 rolls of paper.

Hanging Expans-Style background rack with 3 rolls of paper.  This rack will hold up to 4 rolls but comes equipped with chains and rollers for the 3 rolls of paper that are included.  Please note: All of these rolls are used, as is the rack, chains, and rollers.

$100

1 Pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles.

1 Pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles.

1-pair of Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles. These poles are complete with top and bottom caps and are in good condition.

Although it is not pictured here, this pair of poles will also include ONE 2951 extension.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$125 / Pair

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles

1-pair of White Bogen/Manfrotto Autopoles with a matching pair of extensions.  These poles are complete with top and bottom caps.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$175 / Pair

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension

1 Black Bogen/Manfrotto Autopole with extension, complete with top and bottom caps (however, one cap is beige instead of black.

NO, the ladder is not included, it is pictured for scale only.

$80

3205c1a 3204c1a

Male Dress Form

$25

3206c1a 3207c1a

Female Dress Form

$25

3213c1a

JTL 1000 Stand – #5015, 10′-6″, 4-sections, reversible stud (for Strobe or background crossbar), air-cushioned.

$45

3212c1a

JTL B-909 Background Stand, 9′-6″ tall, 4-section, air-cushioned, single stand included in this sale.

$35

3211c1a

JTL 900 Stand # 5114, 9′-6″ Light Stand, 4-sections, reversible stud (for Strobe or background crossbar), air-cushioned.

$40

3209c1a3210c1a

Medium-duty Light Stands, 3-sections, 5/8″ strobe mounting stud, spring cushioned, 8′-6″ tall

$40 each, 2 available.

3202c1a

Wood Bar Stool, great for posing subjects in the studio.

$30 

3203c1a

Posing Column, square styling, measures about 10″ x 12″ x 36″ and is nice heavy-duty construction.

$60 

3224c1a 3223c1a

TwistFlex Chroma Blue/Green Model TF-03-3, 3′-6″ x 5′ two-sided background with Chroma Key Blue / Chroma Key / Green

$50 each, 2 available.

3222c1a

Posing Table, on casters, adjust from about 27.5″ to 38.5″

$75

3220c1a 3218c1a 3216c1a 3215c1a 3214c1a

Bucket/Pan, Ball and Egg (all sell as one item)

$5

3238c1as 3237c1as

Scenic Painted Muslin Background with Swans and Flowers, 10′ x 20′

$125

3239c1as 3240c1as

Green/Tan/White Painted Muslin Background, 9′ x 18′

$100

3242c1as 3243c1as

Brown Tones Painted Muslin Background, 9′ x 19′

$100

3244c1as 3245c1as

Painted Muslin Background, Garden/Terrace scene, 9′ x 16′

$100

3246c1as 3247c1as

Painted Canvas Background, Earth Tones/Ground Cover, 9′ x 9′

$50

3249c1as 3248c1as

Hand-made Dyed Muslin Background, Blue/Gray, 8′ x 11′, Includes carrying pouch.  There are rod pockets sewn into the width and length of this background

$50

Folding screen, metal with fabric panels.

Folding screen, metal with fabric panels.

Folding Screen, Metal with fabric panels.  About 6′ tall with an overall width of about 57″.

$75

Photography Studio Items for sale

•November 13, 2012 • 2 Comments

Yep, I’m going to be scaling back my studio operation in Wichita and will have many items that need to be sold.  As soon as I can I will post a list of the items available here.

Halloween Photographic Horrors – and avoiding them…

•October 2, 2012 • 1 Comment

With Halloween coming, it could be time to think about how to take photos of kids (or adults) in costume, and there is a challenge that sometimes escapes your planning.  That challenge is the reflective patches and stripes built into modern costumes.  These reflective features are great for spotting kids on the street, but they can be a nightmare in a flash photo.   

Here is the problem; you take a photo of the kids in their costumes and the camera decides that you need flash, however, the camera does not know what to do with all the flash that comes back from the reflective patches.  This sudden burst of light returning to the camera will typically cause the camera to shut the flash down immediately.  In many cases this situation causes the flash to shut down prematurely and the kids never get enough light on them to make a good photo.  The result is a terrific photo of the reflective elements of the costume, but a sub-par image of the kid wearing the costume. 

Not all is lost, at least not on all cameras, because we can setup flash compensation to deal with this situation.  Flash compensation is typically indicated on your menu or functions by a lightning bolt followed by +/-, and this is where you want to go to handle flash for these shots.  If we increase the flash compensation (using the “+” side), the camera will keep the flash on longer and get some light on the kids and the rest of the costume.   

What you will wind up with is a photo that actually shows your kids and their costumes, with some bright spots where the reflective patches appear in the costumes.  This is NOT an exact science where anyone can give you some magical setting to use on your camera, and there are a number of reasons for this:

  • Some costumes have more reflective features than others do. This may require a higher compensation setting.
  • You may be shooting the kids in a group and have a variety of reflective patches to deal with. 
  • Your child may be posed in such a way that the reflective features are a non-issue.  This may require a lower compensation setting.

In any event, it is best for you to take a few shots and check the results so you can make the proper compensation settings.  Take a look at your photos as you take them to be certain the reflective safety features are not ruining your shots.  While we are discussing this subject, I would like to suggest that you get those photos printed too.  Maybe it’s just me, but what ever happened to hanging pictures of your kids on the refrigerator?   

Before getting off this subject, I might also suggest that you carry a small patch of cotton cloth to drape over your flash too.  This will diffuse the flash and make for a more appealing photo.  There are flash diffusers you can purchase for use with virtually any camera, so check your local camera shop.

If you would like to get you photos printed from your mobile device, you can use the Mobile Order from at: http://www.douglasphoto.com/mobileorder/ and have your prints ready fast. 

©2012 Jeff Cowell, jrcowell.com

Android-Powered Nikon cameras…

•August 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

After 40+ years of shooting and 10+ years of teaching photography Nikon has just announce it’s latest product that fits predictions I’ve been making for years.  As a teacher I am often asked for advice about camera purchases and predictions on the direction of the photography market.  For years now I have suggested that there would be cameras created that included GPS and WiFi so you could take a photo and post it to your favorite social media site immediately.  Well sure enough, Nikon has just announce  an Android-Powered Point-and-shoot model that includes GPS and WiFi.  Check it out…

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Nikon+S800c/Ntt/Nikon+S800c/N/0/?BI=5051&KBID=5709

Cropping photos

•April 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Cropping – dealing with a finished image.

So: you took out your camera (or camera phone), and captured this great image, but now you want to do more with it.  That is where cropping comes into play, and it helps to know a little about this subject before you take the Portrait of Jackie with cropsphoto in the first place.  In most cases, you will find that the original image, no matter how good it may be, is usually just a starting place for the finished image.   Probably the easiest way to describe cropping is to say that it is clipping (or cutting) our original image to fit into another format. 

Most typical cameras record in a format equivalent to 4” x 6” prints, and that is why this is our most common format for prints.  When we talk about enlargements the most common sizes you will hear about are 5” x 7” and 8” x 10”.  Therefore, if we do a little bit of simple math we can figure out the 4” x 6” format would fit an 8” x 12” enlargement.  So, what are we going to do with the extra 2” when we want to create an 8” x 10” print?  The simple answer is: cropping.  Probably the most important thing for you to remember with every shot you take; is that you must leave enough room around your subject to execute a proper crop after-the-fact.  If you do all of your composition through the viewfinder, you will find it difficult to edit your images to create the photos you want later.  It is never any fun when you have to pick to crop off somebody’s head or feet, because you cropped in too close when you shot the image in the first place.  When you create the image in the first place, make sure you keep it loose enough to crop to whatever end-result you desire. 

In the example photo that I have provided here, you will see that the original leaves plenty of room around the subject for cropping.  I have drawn some outlines on the image to illustrate some potential cropping options.  You will notice that either a 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 crop can be executed without any issue.  Each crop creates a completely acceptable image without any negative effects on the subject.

One other thing to notice about this photo is the control of the depth-of-field.  It is important that whenever you shoot portraits that you control the depth-of-field carefully.  By keeping your aperture wide-open you reduce the depth-of-field and that will keep the subject in focus while the background remains out of focus.  This helps to provide separation between the subject and the background, giving your subject great definition.  It is also important to note that the closer you are to the subject the smaller the depth-of-field will be, likewise, the further you are from your subject, the greater the depth-of-field will be.  This subject and the same background look completely different in shots taken from just 6 feet further back because of the increased depth-of-field.  Therefore, when you are taking shots of a subject, you might want to consider taking several versions so you can create different effects.

 ©2012 Jeff Cowell, jrcowell.com

 
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