Throughout the year, I create monthly journals which often include comments, links, and tips that could help readers. Unfortunately, many of them eventually get buried or lost. This page consolidates a list of them into a single location.
Back Button Focus: This technique has a lot of dedicated followers including about 1/3 of the clients I take out on my Teton Photo Excursions.
Essentially, Back Button Focus reverses the default characteristics of the auto focus in many DSLR cameras. By default, pressing the shutter halfway locks the auto focus, allowing the photographer to recompose the scene without additional focusing. Also by default, when holding down the AF/L button with the right thumb, focus is locked until the button is released. In Back Button Focus, continuous auto focus is only engaged when the AF/L button is pressed and held. A subject can be aligned in the cross hairs of the focus point while the AF button is pressed, and when located, releasing the button stops all focusing. Note: Most people say it takes about a month of use to get fully comfortable with Back Button Focus.
- Back Button Focus : Steve Perry on YouTube
I used Back Button Focus for a month or so and switched back to the defaults. Still, it’s a viable option for me on some shoots and I can quickly switch back over with only a menu change or maybe two. (Located in the Custom Settings under Autofocus). I prefer to keep my right thumb available to move my focus points around the screen as needed. Veteran Back Button Focus users tell me they can move the focus points AND use the continuous focus option seamlessly. Click the link and see if you like the option!
Nikon Auto ISO: I have been using AUTO ISO on my Nikon bodies for quite a few years. I set the shutter speed and aperture manually, then set the ISO to Auto. For me, it works great on my wildlife images where stopping action is important. The new generations of bodies have great high ISO capabilities (especially the Nikon D4 and D5 bodies). On a Nikon body, I can still change the EV value to adjust quickly for lighting conditions—just like I would if using Aperture or Shutter priority.
Over the past year or so, I’ve mentioned this option to my Canon clients while out on my Teton Photo Excursions, only to find out this does not work the same on most Canon bodies. Making a change to the EV value results in the camera compensating for the change by changing the ISO—the resulting images all look essentially the same.
Canon Auto ISO: I asked a good friend and Canon user about this issue and received this reply: “You are correct on almost all of the Canon DSLR bodies. On the 1DX Mark II (the new pro line camera) under the menu settings you can allow for exposure compensation even with manual mode and auto ISO. See page 237 of the manual. On all of the other camera bodies (I do not know about the 5D Mark IV), this is not possible. This even applies to the 1DX.”
Adobe Creative Cloud : On November 2nd, Adobe released their newest version of Photoshop CC: 2017 Release. The Photography plan includes both Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC for $9.99 per month. Click the link for additional plans and details. I like the CC option because I get all updates throughout the year, without having to wait for a new version to be released. The writing is already on the wall…Adobe is adding new features in the CC offerings that are not in their older boxed versions. (check out this page: Photoshop CC new features. I have friends that tell me they will NEVER rent their software, but personally, I like the options, low pricing, and constant updates!
ON1, Inc. – Photography Software and Plug-ins: On1 seems to be the alternative source for photographers not wanting to stay with Adobe after they changed to their new subscription model. They are currently in the process of releasing a new On1 Photo Raw program to replace Adobe Camera Raw when using their software and some people are using their software for “front end” importing and culling. Users can download trial versions and give it a whirl. There are quite a few noteworthy photographers on their team.
Lightroom goes mobile with new iPad solution: This option requires the Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom program. If you find using iTunes or iPhoto frustrating when needing to move photos to your iPhone or iPad, this might be your solution! It has made my life so much easier! In a nutshell, it simply takes loading the LR app on an iPhone or iPad (or other devices) and then letting Lightroom know to sync selected photos to the device or devices. For example, I can drag three or four moose photos into a moose folder in the LR Mobile group and they will automatically appear on my iPad. There are other features for editing images while in LR Mobile, but I still prefer to edit on my desktop computer.
Photo Mechanic: Some people swear by Photo Mechanic for importing, tagging, and culling of their images. I still use Adobe Lightroom for these steps, but I go to Photo Mechanic to let me quickly go through a folder or images to tag and delete the culls. Photo Mechanic is much faster for this step! (I believe this is a result of viewing the JPG preview image created by the camera vs having to load the entire image when in LR). Once images are deleted in the Photo Mechanic program, I simply “Sync Folder” in Lightroom, which identifies missing images and removes them from the catalog.
Google/NIK: It’s difficult to beat FREE but that’s exactly what you pay! Zilch! There are seven fantastic Photoshop Plug-Ins in the suite. You’ll love ColorEfex and SilverEfex! Many of us paid for the software back when it was owned by NIK Software, so get them while you still can!
Photoshop CC Updates: If you already subscribe to the CC option, you’ll be able to update the program regularly. On the major releases, Adobe leaves the previous version intact on your computer. After installing the new version, third party plug-ins may not show up in the list, but it’s not a big deal. I just copy the entire contents of my previous version’s Plugins folder and paste them into the Plugins folder on the new version.
Training: My two favorite sites for Photoshop and Lightroom training are Lynda.com and KelbyOne. They offer monthly or yearly subscriptions. With the monthly plans, you can cancel at any time and renew at any time. There are hundreds or thousands of online tutorials on just about any topic, but I think these two sources are a couple of the best. Oh yes, besides the software training, both offer tutorials on almost all aspects of photography — including using your camera and accessories such as strobes.
Merge to HDR and Merge to Panorama in Lightroom: Wow! This is a huge addition for me and my photo/digital workflow. In the past, we had to take parts from our RAW files into Photoshop to create panoramic images, and the resulting image was completed as a PSD or TIF file. Multiple HDR parts likewise needed to be assembled in either Photoshop or third party software. Newer versions of Lightroom now offer the option to create either a pano or HDR image while still inside Lightroom and then save and store the resulting image as a fully editable raw file in the DNG format (Digital Negative). Once merged, the original parts can be deleted. This cleans up a lot of loose ends and cuts down on hard drive storage. I should probably add it is also possible to make “HDR panoramic images”. I can end up with a single image that may have originally started with 9, 12, or even 24 image parts.
Adobe Photoshop CC Hidden Gem: When an image is opened, it will always be centered in the program’s work space, but it will often be partially covered by any of the various open panels as seen above. If you go to your Photoshop Prefs, you can find “Overscroll” in the Tools. Check the Overscroll Box and exit the Prefs. To move an image to a more visible or desirable location, simply hold down on the Spacebar and drag the image. Release when satisfied.
TPE: The Photographer’s Ephemeris: I use this program a lot! It’s FREE for desktop users (which is where I prefer to use it) or available at a nominal fee for the app. The program is extremely powerful, yet I use it mainly to help establish where I need to be in the valley to include the Tetons, Mt. Moran, or Sleeping Indian in a moon rise/set or sun rise/set. Or, for example, you could determine when to be in Yellowstone to eliminate the shadows from the canyon walls at Artist Point.
Additional Night Photography Helpers:
- Sunrise/Sunset – Moon PhasesEnter Jackson : Click Submit
- Dark Sky Finder : Locates unpolluted skies in the US
- Stellarium : Locate stars and Milky Way
- PhotoPills | Planning, Locating Stars and Constellations.
Additional Resources: There are a lot of photographers specializing in night images. Check out Royce Bair’s web site and blog at Into the Night. Royce’s sites will supply a ton of information on the subject. He also teaches night photography workshops. Check out Dave Black’s Workshop at the Ranch tutorials on Light Painting. He also has video training tutorials at Kelby Training.
NOAA Weather App: (National Weather Service) This free app lets you see a 40 minute loop of any cloud or storm activity in your region by viewing animated satellite maps. Until I added this app, I never knew if a passing storm was the end of the activity, or is another cell would be coming up behind it. With this app, I now know to stay or go!
Aurora Forecast: We don’t get a lot of Aurora activity here in the NW corner of Wyoming, but when conditions are prime, this app will send a notice on my iPhone. Check it out!
GPS Real Tide: …Nor do we have a lot of tidal issues here in Wyoming! I added this app for times were are near the ocean. I’ll be using it again this January while in Costa Rica.
TrueDoF: If you are at your desktop, you can always go to sites like Cambridge in Colour: A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator to help determine depth of field and hyperfocal distances for your lenses. When out in the field, you might want to consider an app like TrueDoF for your iPhone or Android. I upgraded from the Free app to a paid version to get the option to see when diffraction kicks in.
Audubon Guides: I have a lot of these loaded on my iPhone and iPad, and there are a lot of apps available from many additional vendors. The Audubon offerings seem to be plenty good, and some of them were free. Check out the Audubon apps for Owls, Birds & Mammals. Also look for Sibley and Peterson field guides.
Ask Siri: I am constantly asking Siri questions while driving out of town…not browsing apps or the Internet. My most common question is either “When is sunrise today?, or when is sunset today?” She’s not great at answering questions like, “How much does an adult Shiras moose weigh?”…but she will often offer a helpful link.
En-El 15 Battery Replacement for D500 Users: I’ve noticed VERY SHORT battery life on my D500 on occasions, yet good life on other days. As it turns out, the older Li-ion01 batteries are the culprit, while all of the Li-ion20 batteries perform as advertised. I called NPS (Nikon Professional Services) about the issue after reading a Nikon Rumors post. After registering my D500 (receipt and serial number), NPS is sending a prepaid envelope to replace up to four of the old batteries. They were probably part of my D800 or D810 batch of batteries. Even if you are not NPS, I believe you will still be able to get your old batteries replaced. Give Nikon a call!
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