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This slow motion footage of F-15 jets is absolutely beautiful

I’m not a really massive planes or military person, but I was a kid once. And as a kid I used to build a lot of Airfix kits. My parents used to feed me an endless supply, so I figured why not? It was fun, and my folks were happy because it kept me quiet. One plane I built several of, and was my favourite at the time, was the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle.

First brought into service in 1976, it’s just a beautiful plane. Even those plastic model kits just had something special about them over the other aircraft I was building back then. I’ve never seen them look as good as they do in video from Vimeo use 1-300, though. The planes in this video are the Hiko Kyodotai, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force’s Agressor Squadron.

And, no, Top Gun doesn’t count. Those weren’t F-15s, they were F-14 Tomcats.

The video was shot on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 using a Metabones EF to MFT T Smart Adapter. The lenses used include the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L along with the Canon EF 2x Teleconverter. Editing and colour grading was done with DaVinci Resolve.

1-300 has a few other aircraft videos on his channel, which are also pretty mesmerising. Definitely worth a watch if you’re an aircraft fan.

[via SLRLounge]

Top 5 Essential Photography Tips I Can’t Live Without

These are my big five photography tips which I would take with me to a desert island, the ones I can’t live without. For those who have not had the pleasure, that is a reference to the BBC Radio Four program, Desert Island Discs, which has been running for more than 70 years. The simple premise of the program is that guests choose just eight pieces of music they’d want if they were going to be marooned on a desert island.

Desert island

I think that these lists are much easier to complete if given criteria. This is my Desert Island Big Five. They are chosen on the basis that if you could only apply five ideas to your photography for the rest of your shutter button pushing days, perhaps on a desert island, these would be the ones which I would recommend.

#1 – Follow guidelines not rules

Did you ever see the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie? Captain Barbossa (played with menace by Geoffrey Rush) chastised the main character Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), that he could not do something, because “It is not in the Pirate Rule Book”. With great, exaggerated, cheeky charm, and great comic timing, Jack Sparrow replied “I do not think of it as a RULE book … more as GUIDELINES …”

It is my strong belief that all articles and photography tips, such as this one, should be considered in the same way. The first rule is that there are NO rules, there are only guidelines. You should do just as you like. If you enjoy taking the photographs, processing them, and then you enjoy looking at the results, that is enough. Pleasing yourself and no one else is absolutely enough.

If you want to take photographs of people’s feet, go ahead! If you want to take a photograph of … well, what exactly do you think this might be (below)?

What is it? It is actually the bottom of a curtain, with the morning light streaming in. Not a common photographic topic, but it is an image of reasonable interest.

There are no rules, only guidelines, Do what you like! Do whatever turns you on! I could live with that suggestion alone on my desert island.

This next photograph follows the suggestion of having no rules. I think it is unlikely that any rule is going to tell you to photograph the bottom half of someone’s face, right? This photograph also leads on to the next guideline.

#2 – Fill the frame

A good photography tip and guideline to live by is that the subject of the photograph should not be in doubt, it should fill the frame.

This is an unusual school building in Al Ain, in the UAE.

The photograph above shows the scene well enough. However what is interesting in the scene? The subject of the photograph is really the arches. If they are allowed to fill the frame, don’t you think that it becomes a much better photograph (as below)?

Then, I think the framing of the following photograph is quite interesting. There is no need to include the entire opening of the front of the shop, nor much beyond the stretched out arm of the potential customer. The subject of the photograph is the colored lamps and they fill the frame here nicely.

I think I will take this one. The brightly colored lamps are the subject here and there is no need to include any more of the scene to tell the story.

Put another way, look at whatever you are photographing, get close, then get closer yet again.

New Delhi train station.

This very handsome man sitting on the platform of the train station in Delhi caught my eye. It is an okay scene and tells a bit of the story of India. But he is really the subject, so get closer.

Closer

Then get closer again.

Is a star born? Fill the frame with the subject. This potential Bollywood star is the subject, so he should fill the frame.

As I have already mentioned, advice such as this is best taken as a guideline, not a rule. To prove that point, I agree with most people who seem to prefer the middle shot, the second one, in the above series.

You might say there are two photography tips in one here. First, fill the frame; secondly, get closer. However, both usually result in the same thing. There are other considerations, however, such as the engagement with a portrait subject, or the choice of focal length.

You can fill the frame or get closer according to whatever works for you. For Mr. Bollywood, my memory is of zooming in and moving closer to the subject.

#3 – Ignore the subject

So now you have decided on your subject and gotten closer. It may then seem a little contradictory to tell you to ignore the subject for this next tip. But your photograph will be better if you do so.

You have already decided that the subject is interesting. The decision has already been made that the face, that flower, or the landscape is worth photographing. The face, the flower, or the lake are not going to change much, right? So really, you do not have to keep staring at it, you can now let your eye wander away.

I suggest that it is a really good idea to let your eye take at least a quick look around the edge of the frame. As a general guideline, it is best to have tidy edges in your frame.  That means there is nothing sticking in and distracting from the subject.

Distracting things on the edge of the frame take away from the subject, the blue smiley face.

Examples

Here is an example. A small girl in Cebu, in The Philippines.

I am not saying that it becomes a much better photograph once edited. However, with a slightly tighter crop, and a bit of Photoshop to dull of the distraction in the top left corner, the photograph is more concentrated on the subject, and it is a better image.

Please note that recognizable shapes, the triangle over the girl’s left shoulder, and bright colors, as in the top left, tend to be especially distracting.

The image below was taken for a client in Qatar when Doha’s new airport was being built.

Is it just me, or is that portion of a circle at the bottom, in the front of the frame really distracting? It is very much just a small detail, but it is surely attention to such details that is going to move your photography forward. Next time, when you take a similar shot, you might frame a little bit more precisely. I would like to think that I would. I certainly do not like fixing things in Photoshop, but this is better, isn’t it?

Again, you might say that this is two rules, sorry guidelines, in one. However, I think that it is a natural consequence of looking around the edges of the frame that you will also check the background. This is one I did not get quite right. These people are not flattered by the pole growing out of his head.

The well-known bird photographer Scott Bourne once said that he looked around for a good background then waited for a bird to fly past. You would have to ask him, but I do not think he was joking.

For showing off a cheeky little face, plain white works well. I wanted to photograph a number of the children who lived in a house and just plonked them in front of a plain wall. I found a good background, and waited for the children to fly past!

Cheeky!

But that does not mean that you must have a plain background. It is a question of checking out the edges and being aware of the background. Sometimes the background can even become an important part of the photograph.

Stairway from heaven?

Here is a contrasting background using complementary colors.

#4 – Atomic powered

You may well have heard that you should work the scene. I was only ever half sure what that meant. It might help you, as it helped me when I heard the simple advice, “move your feet”.

Then I later heard that idea expanded upon, and an image from my high school science class was revived. The image is of an atom, with the nucleus and electrons (have I got that right?).

The nucleus, the red and black middle, is the subject. You, the photographer, are the electrons, the blue dots. You are moving over, under, and around the subject. Standing tall, crouching low, walking left, walking right, and working that subject. Looking for the best way to show what you want to show, to tell the story you want to tell.

Created by working the scene and trying different camera angles.

It is not normal to take a photograph of the top of someone’s head. But I hope you agree that this makes an interesting image (above).

Nor is it normal to angle your camera at 45 degrees, tilted over from the horizontal, then point the camera up at an even steeper angle. But this image below seems to tell some of the stories of Singapore’s Clark Quay and the Central Business District. The situation has been worked by moving the camera out of its traditional position in the horizontal and vertical axes.

You must take the shot above, it is mandatory, but it has been taken quite enough times, hasn’t it?

Then, by walking round this very famous building, you can see it in a different way, one that tells a bit more of its glorious tale. The side of the Taj Mahal, as shown below, has its own beauty.

So, the fourth guideline is that you should move around your subject like electrons move around the nucleus of an atom.

There is a bonus to this guideline as well. There is a clear implication that if you have decided that a subject is worth taking one photograph of, you should take ten! If you ever shot with film, you’ll understand that the incremental cost was quite high. When David Bailey shot six rolls of Kodachrome, it probably cost $200. Now, in the digital age, the incremental cost is negligible. So do not be shy about taking more photographs.

#5 – Guideline of Thirds

This is the famous, Guideline of Thirds.

Have you heard of it before? Perhaps not, but you may well have heard of the Rule of Thirds. Like many other clichés, it has attained that status because it works! It is so well known but, even then, I have heard people get it wrong. Still, though, I think it is better thought of as the Guideline of Thirds in my opinion.

In your mind, divide the frame by drawing two equally spaced vertical lines, and similar horizontal lines. The image below tells the story easily. This guideline works well with a square frame too, and we would then be able to describe it and use it as a tic-tac-toe board.

You now have a frame divided into nine equal pieces. Three equal horizontal sections, three equal vertical sections, hence the name thirds.

Place your subject on those lines, and the most significant items on the intersections of those lines. Got a tree? Position it on one of the horizontal and vertical lines (where they intersect as seen below).

A river might be placed along one of the horizontal lines.

Place the most significant items, the sun, the human eye, or a cat walking across a street, on the intersections, where the vertical and horizontal lines cross. These are called the power points.

Combining all three, you will have this as your composition.

Very simply, the accepted wisdom is that this arrangement below.

Looks more interesting, more dynamic, than this.

Of course, you cannot move trees and rivers and other stationary objects. However, you can move around and practice the fourth guideline. Often you can find a position where the major elements of the shot are aligned with the thirds, or somewhere close.

If you consciously practice using the rule of thirds it will be a good step in the right direction to creating more interesting photos. Stick with it, practice, and you will soon find that you do not have to really think about it. It soon becomes instinctive. Later you might move on to other guidelines for composition. There are many others, but if I could choose only one to take and use on my desert island this would be it.

I can tell you that this was taken with no conscious application of the Rule of Thirds. I would suggest it has at least some interest. And, lo and behold.

Here is another example.

I know with absolute certainty that The Rule of Thirds was not in consideration when I took this street shot in Jakarta, Indonesia. I wanted one of the drawings to be fully in the frame and as he is the artist, I wanted his hands in the frame too. Again, I am not claiming that this is a great work of art, but I think I can claim that it has some harmony and cohesion. Throw the grid at it and we see . . .

His hands and face, sit pretty much on the intersections of the lines.

A modest realization along the way, with this aspect of my photographic journey, was in respect to the horizontal lines and the placement of the horizon. Still not a rule, only guideline, but it seemed to me that if the sky was interesting, and it was the major subject of the photograph, then you might want to put the horizon on the lower third line. That simply gives more of the frame over to that stormy, wispy cloud-filled, or deep sunset filled sky. Simply, it is consistent with the guideline of fill the frame with the subject.

Boracay sunset, Philippines.

If it is the land which offers the subject for a photo, it usually works if you place the horizon along the upper third.

Beautiful Philippines golf course.

As I have already suggested, there are other compositional guidelines, which you might move on to using at a later date. But the Rule of Thirds, or as you might be better thinking of it, Guidelines of Thirds, is a very good place to start.

In summary

Looking at and understanding light, using a frame, empty space, leading lines, symmetry, contrast, and so on – there are many good guidelines. But these are the five essential photography tips which I would choose to use if I could select no others.

  1. Follow guidelines not rules
  2. Fill the frame with the subject
  3. Check your frame edges and the background
  4. Move yourself
  5. Guideline of Thirds

I would recommend that you could survive very well with the above big five on a metaphorical or, indeed, literal desert island.

6 Tips for Getting Sharper Wildlife Photos With a Super Telephoto Lens

In recent years, super telephoto lenses by third-party manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron have been made available on the market for really reasonable prices. Earlier on, photographers had no choice but to spend a huge amount in order to buy a super telephoto lens, but now these third-party lenses make it more affordable. One such super telephoto lens is the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, which allows you to get much closer to a distant subject.

Using a super telephoto lens for wildlife photography is in itself a skill to master as you may not get sharp and clear results when you first pick up the lens. The tips below will help you get work better with a super telephoto lens so you can capture sharper wildlife photos going forward.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 01

#1 – Choose the correct shutter speed

Selection of the best shutter speed is one of the most important tasks when doing wildlife photography. There is a standard rule which says that the shutter speed should be equal to or faster than the focal length of the lens you’re using. So, if you are shooting with a 500mm focal length, then you need a shutter speed of at least 1/500th or faster (1/1000th, 1/2000th, and so on).

Shooting at a shutter speed slower than 1/500th can introduce camera shake and thus will affect the sharpness of the image. However, if your lens features image stabilization technology, you can then shoot at a slower shutter than the focal length. How much slower will depend on the performance of the technology for that particular lens.

NOTE: This rule is applicable for full-frame digital cameras. If you are using an APS-C sensor camera, then you also have to multiply the focal length by the crop factor of your camera brand (1.5x for Nikon, 1.6x for Canon, etc). In this case, the focal length would become 750mm with a Nikon APS-C sensor camera and thus a shutter speed of 1/750th of a second or faster needs to be used to get sharp photos.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 07

Usually super telephoto lenses such as the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM perform the best from 150mm to 500mm, and as you go beyond 500mm the sharpness starts to lessen. So try and avoid using a focal length which is towards the maximum limit of a telephoto lens.

#2 Use the right aperture value

In wildlife photography, depth of field plays a great role in helping to make the subject stand out from the background. In case you are not aware, shooting with wider aperture (smaller aperture values like f/2.8) helps you to achieve shallow depth of field. This results in a photo where the subject is sharp and well segregated from the background, which itself will be out of focus.

But this does not mean that you blindly shoot using the smallest available aperture value. Instead, I recommend that you shoot at the aperture value which is the sweet spot of your lens. Usually the sweet spot of a lens is 2-3 stops higher than the smallest aperture value. So it would be around f/11 if you are using the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3. Shooting at the sweet spot aperture value allows you to get maximum possible sharpness in the photo, along with decent depth of field. By the way, you would likely be shooting at a focal length such as 500mm or so, and in that case, you would get shallow depth of field even at f/8 or f/11.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 03

#3 – Selecting ISO sensitivity

ISO sensitivity is one of the sides of the exposure triangle which needs to be adjusted as per the shutter speed and aperture value required for the shoot. In the case of wildlife photography, you will have to compromise on the ISO sensitivity over the other two elements of the exposure triangle. Why?

You will have to use a fast shutter speed in order to freeze the motion of the subject and an aperture value which is not that wide in order to capture sharper photo. This is the reason why you might have to increase the ISO sensitivity value in order to capture a well-exposed photo. So the ISO should be the last exposure setting that you adjust in order to correctly expose the frame.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 04

#4 – Use a tripod or monopod for stability

Considering the fact that the super telephoto lenses are really heavy, it is important and advisable to mount them on a tripod or a monopod. Almost all telephoto lenses have a tripod collar for mounting the lens on a tripod or a monopod. This will enable you to concentrate more on the surroundings and the movement of the animals/birds instead of worrying about carrying the weight of the lens.

If you shoot handheld at telephoto focal lengths such as 300mm, 400mm and so on, you are bound to get shake in your photos. As a precautionary measure, it is better to carry a tripod or a monopod along every time you plan to shoot wildlife.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 05

#5 – Image Stabilization mode in your lens

In a situation when you need to pan your camera along with the moving animal or bird, make sure that you have switched on the image stabilization on your lens. This is helpful in case you are shooting handheld, as it reduces the shake that is caused while panning or tilting the camera. Image stabilization mode can be found on lenses as IS on Canon lenses, VR on Nikon lenses, OS on Sigma lenses, VC on Tamron lenses and OSS on Sony lenses.

But in case you are using a tripod or a monopod as advised above, switch off the image stabilization mode on the lens. If you keep it switched on, the image stabilization feature introduces minor shake which in turn reaches the camera mounted on a tripod or a monopod. So in order to eliminate this minor shake you must switch off the image stabilization mode on your telephoto lens.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 02

#6 – Explore Back Button Focus

If you are not already using the back button focus method to lock the focus on the subject, then you must be half-pressing the shutter release button to do the needful. When you use the shutter release button to lock focus, you are further contributing introduction of minor camera shake.

By using the back button focus technique, you can dedicate one of the buttons located on the back of your camera to focus. By doing so, you are then balancing the weight of the camera as you press the button on the back side. Not only does it reduce camera shake, it also helps you shoot at much faster rate as compared to the traditional approach.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 08

Conclusion

Shooting with a super telephoto lens is a delight, but it is also really important that you understand the technical aspects of using it to get sharp results. Do not be disappointed if your initial shots are not as sharp as you expected them to be.

Make sure that you are using the right shutter speed and aperture values, these two elements of the exposure triangle contribute the most to the sharpness of your photos. If possible, use a tripod or monopod and mount your telephoto lens on it to avoid any possible camera shake. In case you are shooting handheld, switch-on the image stabilization feature on the lens to further reduce the shake caused during panning or tilting of the camera.

Wildlife photography telephoto lens 06

Do you have any additional tips for getting sharper wildlife photos using a super telephoto lens? If so please share them in the comments section below.

First reports claiming that the Sony A9 has over heating issues

Most of the reports coming in about the new Sony A9 are pretty enthusiastic about it. Despite the high price tag of $4,500, it seems to be getting a lot of positive attention from Canon and Nikon flagship owners.

But today, we saw two different reports claiming that the camera has overheating issues. The first report is coming from videographer Danny Eusebio (AKA that1cameraguy). Danny shares that his A9 got the overheat indicator turning on after only 20 minutes of shooting. In comparison, Danny mentions that he shot in the same location, at roughly the same time, with the Nikon D500, without any issues.

Admittedly, Danny shot out in the sun, but the A9 being a sports camera, sun is kinda expected.

We saw another report today at DPReview coming from William Prip sharing a similar story. William’s A9 got the overheat indicator blinking after about 45 minutes of shooting stills.

Overheating is not new to Sony. The A6300 had overheating issues that were presumably solved with the A6500. This does call for some caution. If Sony’s other cameras were overheating, maybe the A9 is overheating as well.

On the other hand, none of the reports mention that the A9 was shutting down, they only mention that the indicator was turning on, so we can not say if this is an issue of a false-reporting threshold, or of actual overheating.

Also, on the defending side, is that we are only seeing two reports, out of probably tens of thousands (it not hundreds) of usage.

What do you think, are those overheating reports isolated or are we looking at something the proportions of the Nikon D600  Nikongate.

[via reddit]

The story of the film: A beginner’s guide to black and white film development

I love the immediacy of digital photography. In fact, I�™m puzzled how anyone managed to gain expertise in the days of film: it takes hours, sometimes days, to get any feedback on the shot you�™ve taken. By that time, I�™ve usually forgotten about the camera settings I used or even what I was trying to achieve with the photograph.

That said… there�™s something about the tangibility of using and developing film that�™s missing from digital photography. I find film photography thoroughly more enjoyable�”even if the resulting images are no better than I could get with a digital camera. It feels like there�™s more craft and expertise involved.

About this time of year, when the days are lighter, I get the itch to load a film camera and mix up some chemicals. So this week, I thought I�™d tell the story of how I develop a black and white film. I�™ve found lots of great advice on the internet, but there was little for absolute beginners, so that�™s where I thought I would start.

Getting prepared

I used a Canon EOS 1N. Back in the day (1994), this was a professional�™s camera, but now you can get them on eBay for £150. That�™s about 10% of what it cost when it was released. All of my existing Canon lenses work with this camera, so for me, it�™s a relatively low-cost way to shoot film.

I don�™t have a darkroom at home, so I use a Patterson tank and a changing bag to develop the film. The Patterson tank is like an oversized cocktail shaker that allows you to add and empty chemicals while preventing any light from entering. A changing bag is like a lightproof t-shirt: you zip everything up in the bag and then load the film by touch.

When I first started, I often found it difficult getting the film on the reel. So now I cut the end of the film into a kind of arrow shape and find it glides on. The Patterson tank comes with two reels, so you can develop two rolls of film at once if you are an overachiever.

These three images show the reel loading process. Of course, you do this in the dark or in the changing bag. I used an old piece of film here to show the steps.

Developing the film

I processed the film at 20-degrees. Everything I read about film development tells me that temperature is the most important variable, so I get the water to the right temperature in a 5-litre bottle. I then tip the water out of the bottle as I need it. In practice, I think the temperature only really matters for the first, development, phase so I don�™t check the temperature as I go on.

First in is the developer. I used a readymade developer called Ilford Ilfosol 3. My film (Fuji Acros 100) needed 5 minutes in the developer. After adding the diluted developer (1:9) to the tank, you need to agitate the tank for 10 seconds every minute. At first, I wasn�™t sure what �œagitation” meant in practice, but after watching some YouTube videos, I now interpret this to mean fairly vigorous shaking.

After the development time, I drain the tank into a bucket and add the stop bath. The stop bath neutralises the developer and so halts the development of the film. You leave the stop bath in the tank for a minute or so, then drain the tank and add fixer (which prevents the film being light sensitive). Finally, you give the film a good wash.

If you�™re curious about actual timings and steps, I created this crib sheet.

I downloaded a free lab timer app for my phone to get the timings right.

The moment of truth…

It�™s important to do this final step in a dust-free environment like a bathroom. A couple of years ago when I developed my first film, I was so overjoyed that it had worked that I proudly showed my family the result, only to discover that the wet film attracted dog hair and dust. That pretty much ruined the film.

I hang the negatives to dry in the shower. This usually takes about 4 hours, but the weather was so warm on the day I developed these that they were dry in a couple of hours.

This is the kind of mess you face when you return to clean up. I think it looks like a emergency room in a hospital show on TV when the patient has died.

The reason I use a bucket rather than just throw the chemicals down the sink is because I have a septic tank at my house. So I need to dispose of the chemicals more carefully.

Scanning and printing the images

I use an Epson Perfection V550 scanner. This has a dedicated holder for various size negatives. In the past, I�™ve tried photographing the negatives with a digital camera. I know that some people can get good results with a digital camera, but I find it cumbersome.

The white gloves keep fingermarks off the negatives and reinforce my delusion that I�™m a magician.

In the scanning software, I turn off every option I can find about automatic dust removal and noise reduction. I�™ve found these options add artifacts to the image, and are no better than what I can do using a dust blower and Lightroom�™s spot healing tool.

After importing the scans to Lightroom, I use a custom print template to print a contact sheet. As you can see, most of my photographs are of my long-suffering dog whose hairs appear on my negatives.

The end result

The image on the left is the original scan of one of my favorite images from the set above. I made some basic adjustments in Lightroom to get the version on the right. I don�™t want to come over all pretentious, but I do think there�™s a texture to film that�™s hard to emulate with digital.

But most importantly, it�™s terrific fun.

About The Author

David Travis is a portrait and editorial photographer based in Staffordshire, UK.  In 2017, he publishes a photo story each week, and you can check out the project here. For more of his work, visit his website, follow him on Instagram and 500px, and like his Facebook page. This article was also published here and shared with permission.


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