Canon develops 120 megapixel APS-H CMOS sensor

Canon has announced it has developed a 120 megapixel 29.2 x 20.2mm APS-H CMOS sensor.

The rest of the announcement you can find it to this link:

How to photograph waterdrops reflecting smileys inside them

This picture is not a Photomontage, is the wonderful job of a professional photographer whose name is Margherita:

The explanation of this picture was given by Margherita itself to another user of Panoramio, i'm translating the part of the answer that we are interested in.
On a A3 format sheet create a face, with flowers or something else. The drop works as a lens, then remember to hung the image upside down more or less at 40 cm behind the drops.
The shutter speed must be very fast 1/6000-1/8000, use a very long focal that requires a lot of light, and possibly, shoot with sunlight in daytime or at night. Prepare an adjustable source of drops and sprinkle drops in 6 - 8 points. Shoot a serie of 50 poses and then change the scene, repeat the scene for another 20-25 times and then you'll see great results.
Thanks to Margherita for this precious tutorial.

Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II lens review

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Nikon 16-35mm ƒ/4.0G AF-S ED-IF N VR Test and review

This video is a brief hands-on review on Nikon's newest super wide-angle lens of Nikon 16-35mm ƒ/4.0G AF-S ED-IF N VR. Enjoy.

This video is available in High Definition (HD), hover the mouse above "360p" to extend out different video quality options, for HD (High Definition), click on 720p or 1080p. If you are having trouble watching the video smoothly, add this code, &fmt=22 to the end of this video's URL address then press Enter / Return to reload the video, it will play nicely in HD.

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This video is a brief hands-on review on Nikon's fastest wide angle prime (single fixed focal length) lens of Nikon 24mm ƒ/1.4G AF-S ED N. Enjoy!

This video is available in High Definition (HD), hover the mouse above "360p" to extend out different video quality options, for HD (High Definition), click on 720p or 1080p. If you are having trouble watching the video smoothly, add this code, &fmt=22 to the end of this video's URL address then press Enter / Return to reload the video, it will play nicely in HD.

Nikon 20mm ƒ/2.8D AF Test and review

This video is a brief hands-on review on one of Nikon's wide angle prime (fixed focal length) lenses of Nikon 20mm ƒ/2.8D AF. Enjoy.

This video is available in High Definition (HD), hover the mouse above "360p" to extend out different video quality options, for HD (High Definition), click on 720p or 1080p. If you are having trouble watching the video smoothly, add this code, &fmt=22 to the end of this video's URL address then press Enter / Return to reload the video, it will play nicely in HD.

Photography Technique The portrait, the aid of single and multiple flash


As we have often seen, natural light is vastly more than enough to run a very wide range of portraits, with very different results and effects, adequate for many situations; the fact remains that the chance of a better light control offers different possibilities of expression and, above all, solve problems with relative ease that would otherwise require complex systems of size light panels and banners.

Here we examine the use of a single flash, defined as "cobra", that has to be mounted in the flash shoe of your camera or those built on top of the pentaprism.
Before starting to describe its use, it is important to understand how to use the modern TTL flash and the older manual flash. Flash does nothing but accumulate, being charged, a certain amount of current in a condenser; at the time of the shot it is released instantly and is used to start the flash that will illuminate the scene. The secret to use flash is in the dosage of that light. Meanwhile, let's be clear about one thing: the lightning flash is always so fast that the exposure time does not affect the recorded amount of light flash; a flash at full power with an exposure time of 1/250 at f/8 or 1/60 f/8 shows the lighted object in the same way (unless the subject is not illuminated by other sources). However, the aperture is the first instrument for the dosage of the flash ligh . To shoot at 1/250 f/8 or 1/250 f/2.8 will give radically different results.
Furthermore, since the aperture opening is a value that depends on the lens used, a light meter for flashes will always shows the correct aperture opening regardless of the lens used. Finally, using a flash, we can avoid worrying about the risk of blur into our shots. The flash is so quick to freeze the motion of our subject, so unless other sources of light, a slow shutter speed in the order of 1/60 or 1/90 (required in some cameras) will not be a problem even with fast-moving subjects.

In daily and non-specialist use, modern TTL flash used in automation solve many problems. We do not have to calculate anything and the flash will read the light through the lens used and will interrupt the emission when the right lighting has been reached. With a more dated not TTL flash, that doesn’t happen; the best way to adjust the light will be the use of an external light meter for flash light: the flash starts and you read the aperture value on the light meter, then set aperture on the lens and shoot.

All of this is certainly not claiming to exhaust the technical argument relatied to flash, but may be simply enough to help you to figure out how to use the flash in our portraits.
The primary use of the single flash in a portrait is the light filling. In a situation of natural light, direct or indirect, outdoors or indoors, the flash can go to fill the gray areas, those that would be too dark and difficult to read, or with too marked contrasts between light and shadow. What we need to pay attention to, however, are the shadows that the flash generates and the flattening that may cause direct light flash.

As we have seen, in fact, a flash in automation will regulate itself according to the reading of the correct exposure as if the flash was the only source of light and will overwrite any other light, undermining all our research for a good setting light fot the shoot, also the shadows generated by the flash will be hard and sharp, creating a halo of shadow behind your subject. To avoid all these problems with the flash the first step is the compensation of the flashlight: what we want for our shot is to maintain the measured exposure for natural light and this we'll keep; for the flash instead we'll have to set the lighting in the way to just fill the shadows. Any flash or camera can adjust the intensity even without knowing the power used; talking in terms of EV values more or less, in our case the step to move is that of a negative compensation, that is to lower the emissions that the correct flash will consider correct, of a certain number of stops. The amount usually depends on the environmental conditions of major or minor lighting and by various factors such as brightness and color of clothing, generally i compensate between I-1EV and 2EV-values that allow you to effectively lighten the shadows and at the same time to keep the tonal differences primary lighting, giving dimension to the subject; also a compensation with these values makes the shadows generated by the flash very light and not unpleasant, often imperceptible. Generally, but as I already said there are many variables, the greater is the situation of backlight the smaller shall be the compensation, reaching the exposure without compensation when in full backlight.
To soften the light emitted many flashes are equipped with a diffuser, as well as on the market you can find kind of diffuser adaptable to almost any flash. They are effective in a better shadows control, but their use does not prevent the compensation; in fact the TTL reading registers the light that actually reaches the film or the sensor so with the diffuser that partially absorbs the power of the flash, the flash will emit more light to compensate for the loss due to the diffuser itself.

If you're shooting indoors, and the walls and ceiling of the dining room dedicated as posing room are white, with a flash cobra we can also adjust the dish in order to direct it towards up or down a wall, in that way we use the ceiling or wall as a reflector for the flash light, spreading it and making it softer. Adding that light to our shooting once again we're going to lighten the shadows caused by the primary natural light that we are using for our portrait. The flash in this case, however, involves a greater care in the dosage of lightning; it’s not said that the flash power is sufficient to obtain lighting that reflected properly fill the shadows as we would like. Having a digital camera and the ability to do some test certainly proves a winning strategy in these cases, unless we cannot have the usual external light meter for incident flash light that will allow us, according to the aperture chosen, to see if the flash light is enough and what will eventually be compensated.

One of the features that i appreciate in the use of flash is the light dot that is reflected in the eyes of the subject. A spot of light in the eyes of the subject gives it a vitality that wouldn't otherwise seen that easily, but isn't always easy to obtain, when the dish is directed on the side or above the subject, in fact, the light source would disappear: in this case it is necessary to use a white card inserted after the flash reflector. Some flashes are manufactured includin one of these that you can pull-out but in the absence of this it’s easily remedied with a Bristol board shaped to match the flash size. Do not underestimate this, the eyes are the key to a successful portrait and know how to give them value is essential.

The single flash may also be used for more "creative" purposes. To start using it in these different ways, it is essential to be able to disengage it from the fixed position above the pentaprism. To do it there are several ways: if we have a camera with a built-in flash we can safely release the flash cobra provided not without equipping it with a simple servo-cell. There are some very cheap with a starting cost of 20 € and they serve finely for the purpose. If we do not have a built-in flash we will have to equip ourselves with a extension cable; every camera manufacturer has different models in its catalog with the ability to transmit more or less automatisms. In the latest cameras we'll also be able to remotely control multiple flash, provided that they are compatible, with extreme simplicity and without buying anything.

The chance to work with a flash away from the camera will allow us to place it in a more functional position for the effect that we wish to achieve; assuming to have a primary natural light coming from above and right, place the flash at the bottom left allow us to control the shadows very effectively and the right dosage of the flash will still retain the tonal changes that will give body to the subject. In addition, a flash separated from the camera will be the first step to think of taking portraits with the flashlight alone, being able to position it anywhere we avoid the problem of rendering a flat front light. Using a single flash as the only light source is an idea less strange than we might think of and often used by professionals to achieve interesting effects. The light of a single flash, in fact, is a very directional and hard light, which creates sharp shadows and marked contrasts, very good if we want to get a dramatic effect on our shots. The use of a panel as opposed to fill flash will soften the yield while maintaining a good dose of "drama"; there are even classic patterns of light, like the "Rembrandt" light, which include its use of a single flash and often not even softened.

Of course we always have the usual range of options to clear and the reflect the flash that will allow us to adopt a softer and fascinating light to get portraits with sweeter features. I often shot with a single flash on the side oriented, rather than against the person, against two polystyrene panels arranged as a V to bounce the light toward the subject. So the light reflected from the panels will be softer and the shadows will be much less pronounced, approaching or moving away from the subject panels we can increase or reduce the power of light and change the hardness (the closer they are and the more light will be tough and powerful). Also by changing the opening of the two panels will achieve the effect of further softening more or less the yield, a more open V returns a softer light, a more closed V will offer a harder light. About the exposure, if the system allows it, put the flash in TTL compensated at -1/2 EV is the best and fastest, vice versa we'll have to use the external light meter of incident light or the calculation based on the flash guide number and distances, bearing in mind that we will always have an approximate result and in this case to use more fork shots is essential, a digital camera will allow us to immediately see the result making he appropriate adjustments.

Finally, without claiming to exhaust such a vast subject, a simple note on the color temperature: the flash light has a color temperature equal to the one of the sun in the middle of the day and easily exploitable with daylight film, those who we normally buy. However, if you shoot at sunrise or sunset and use the flash as filling light we must keep in mind that the sunlight will be much warmer and the flash light will result very cold on our subject, although in some cases this effect can be exploited for creative purposes. The rule wants the flash light filtered by special gels that give it the right temperature; By and large we may use the filters for the "tungsten" light, that is the light emitted by the common light bulbs that we use at home. On the market there are flash filters with gels calibrated (to bring to light a precise color temperature) and colored. Try them, the effects are not always pleasant, indeed, rarely, but occasionally a touch of color, even projected on the background when the main light is the one of the sun, could provide the extra touch to a shot.

Once having removed the flash from the camera and started exploring the world of flash lighting, the limit to our possibilities will be determined only by our imagination, desire to experiment, and not least, by the financial resources we have, to buy all the Flashes that we need. What is certain is that we must begin to change mental attitude towards photograpy, not just a creative vision to extrapolate from the world a step that tells something, but a true image creation to communicate what we want. As I always say, but the sentence is not mine, there are photographers who search and find pictures and others that create them, both are reputable and valuable, but they are two different things.

Finally two examples of the use of flash as an aid to lighting. In the first case the flash actually delivers the illumination of the subject while natural sunlight is responsible for defining the boundary; the choice to shoot at sunset has allowed a golden hue in her hair.




By having more than one flash the possibilities that open up in portrait photography are virtually limitless. There is no situation that cannot be reproduced in the studio with the appropriate flash power and the necessary arrangements; equipment, as usual, must be only that part of the instrumentation, well known and understood in its operation, which will best express our potential and our subject.

The first basic thing to understand about multi-flash lighting is that the normal exposure parameters with which we work must be entirely forgotten.
We introduce a new piece of information: the flash, almost all at least, can emit flashes at different adjustable power, most of the time adjustable manually or with a set of parameters, adjusting the power actually affect the duration of the emitted light. A flash at full power will have a duration of approximately twice the flash emitted by the same flash to half power, the duration of the flash, in general, is usually very short; an old powerful flash, at full power could have a duration of lightning of about 1/500 of a second; a modern flash with good power has a duration at full power even shorter. From here you can easily understand that in flash light exposure the time variable set in your camera has no influence on the exposure of the frame. Holding the shutter open for 1/30 or 1/250 of a second when the duration of illumination of the scene is extremely shorter does not change anything. It's worth setting the quickest time possible to flash-sync to avoid lighting contamination by the environment lights and avoid a greater noise in the case of digital cameras.

The second variable that we usually consider in assessing the value of the exposure aperture is the value of aperture opening. The aperture really affects the flash exposure but our hands are tied: if we want to obtain a marked blur or we want all in focus we have to set the aperture to an exact value and not a variable one.

In essence, our camera becomes a boxn containing the sensitive medium with a well defined hole for the entrance of light, without any possibility to change anything, then how to expose correctly? The only parameter on which we can act is the ISO sensitivity, again with several limitations; if we want a high quality the selection of the film or the sensor sensitivity will stop soon to very low values.
The road ahead is another, vary the intensity of light on the individual flashes to obtain the correct exposure and all the desired effects.
How to make it is non-trivial, but not impossible to deal with. The procedure explained will be valid for any type of camera but if we have the opportunity to work in digital, also with a compact camera with flash that can be set manually, and maybe just to make the lighting tests, all will be much easier and free of many calculations.

Meanwhile we will have the various flash, panels and supports, according to the scheme that we consider appropriate, the flashes should be able to communicate with each other, whether via servocell or sync cable does not change anything. Modern systems have a number of remote controls that synchronize the flash via radio frequency or short bursts of subtle communication according to their own proprietary code, it all dependent on our camera's shot button. Fixed the flashes then we’ll set them to the type of lighting we want to achieve; for simplicity we assume a master unit to the right at full power and a second on the left at 1/4 power. At this point enters the scene the incident light meter for flash light, this kind of light meter has the ability to read the flash light that strikes the subject at various points (a reading for each point) and a sync socket to control the first flash used, assuming that the other depend via servocells or via cable from the main flash. Set the ISO on the light meter, we will put it near the area of the face of wich we want to read the exposition; suppose the illuminated area by the flash of the right, the main one, and we take use flash. The light meter will give an aperture value, the one which in theory should be set in the camera for a proper exposure, but we said that our aperture value is not variable, how can we do? We are going to vary the flash output according to the value that has been given. Returning to our example, suppose you set an aperture of f/2.8 to get a nice blur and that the light meter will give us a reading of f/5.6, being 2 stops of difference between the aperture set and the one we need, we must go to vary the power of the flash of two stops, that will bring the main flash from full power to 1/4 and the secondary 1/4 to 1/16. If you want a better reading of area we can repeat the operation by placing the light meter near the second zone of the face, the one in the shadow, by triggering the flash again we'll verify that the aperture value is set two stops more open of the working one (ie the reading area is two stops more closed than the target exposure indicates by the light meter).

Done that, we will be ready to take a beautiful series of pictures of which we are the architects in all the aspects.

The advantages working in digital? To begin we can do without the external light meter, we will take a first image and we will control lights on the monitor, as it was done one time, and someone still does, with Polaroids, adjust the powers of the lights and take a shoot again, until you achieve the desired result.
On the market today we can find very complex and complete flash management systems, starting with Canon and Nikon, that allows you to control remotely from a master flash the power of all others, use them in groups with different settings and adjustable powers in TTL with various degrees of compensation, or even directly from the back of your camera, and studio system controlled by special software from your laptop. However the concept behind all these systems is always the manual adjustment of the single flashes to dose the light in order to obtain the lighting sought.

What can we do with a multi-flash lighting system? Basically everything, the real criteria is the power in the game, with a cobra flash installed on a sled we have usually a power just enough to properly illuminate a face, if we want to soft and reflected by a series of panels lighting. The fact remains that it is a great way to begin to master the technique, certainly don't expect to use them if we decide to work within aperture very closed. Thinking of working at f/5.6 ISO 100 might already not be that simple, the next step is to get a pair of studio flash with an adequate power; there are starter kits on the market with the states and reflective umbrellas including compacts with 400W and prices are not entirely out of the world. Even here, however, do not think you are arrived, if we think that to each stop closing the aperture in the flash light in play have to be doubled and a bank speaker can steal a couple of stops, we discover quickly that the shots that we see in fashion magazines made f/11 f/16 easily require power in order thousands and thousands of watts.
Despite all these disadvantages, economic and in management of the light power, why using only the flash light when you take a picture? Because the light flash is under control, in power, direction, color, size and hardness; we can decide the exact angle at which the light hits our subject to have a oblique light to show and hide every detail we want. We can decide the tones to create, if we want to highlight a particular with a tight spot or cast a significant shadow at a certain point, we can go with a few adjustments by the diffused light similar to that found in outdoor to a directioned and marked lighting, In essence we will have the real control over our image, regardless of time and weather conditions. It must be said that usually the flash is used to obtain impact results, with a strong emotional charge, marked shadows and wide opened lights, but it's only the style that trend has imposed in recent years, no one forbids us to use our flash to achieve a soft and delicate result. You just know how to do, but this can only be learned through experience.

As for me and my portrait photographs, since three years i passed almost entirely to shoot digitally with Nikon systems, which easily led me to take their CLS system where, all things considered, with a small number of flash SB600 and SB800 is possible to obtain good results with the advantage of a very practical management of individual flashes directly from the back of my machines or an SB800 mounted on a sled, all without wires and without the time and preparation of a complete set with the advantage of being able to easily carry it around everywhere, even in a plowed field. Conversely i reserve studio systems with compacts, studio flash, umbrellas and bank for still-life where aperture are usually very closed and higher powers of lighting, where there aren't people around the set and where the light changes made are more limited since the subject is absolutely static.

Article written by Attilio and translated by Alessandro Amante

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