Black and White Photography

If there are one art form that is difficult to master it is that of black and white photography, it is surprisingly tricky, it takes both effort and time to perfect, yet the results are amazing once it is mastered. Some black and white photographers succeed other miserably fail and, in most cases, it is due to several critical elements that could be utilised to ensure black and white photographs works.

Black and White Photography Remains Master of All


The history of black and white photography is as long as that of photography itself, as the first colour images were only captured around the year 1861, although by then monochrome photography was already in existence for around thirty-five years or so. At this time colour was so to speak a new invention, the new kid on the block, but still, it did not replace the black and white art of photography in any way.

Colour in Photography is a Destruction

Many viewed the new invention in colour photography as a distraction, in photography it was often seen as lifeless and dull, which was quite the opposite of what one would think. Yet when it comes to the main task of a photographer, it is to simplify the image, refining the scene in the photograph down to its bare essence and it is in this that colour-photography at times falls short as the essence is colourless.

Wisdom by Ansel Adams

In discussing the variances between the two types of photography, including black and white and colour photography, it was said Ansel Adams that he can get a much greater sense of colour through a well-executed and well planned black and white image than he could ever hope to achieve via colour photography.

In modern times and referring to photography in today’s world most or almost all photographs are taken in colour, and when we thought back to the words of Adams, perhaps we all have lost the imagination and beauty that what Ansel Adams want to convey via photography.

A Great Black and White Photograph Period


There is no rescue for an image in black and white that is disastrous. There is no use in slapping a Noir filer on a bad photograph. A great black and white start with a great photograph, it is a photograph taken with reason. What makes a massive difference is also the camera and lens used, yet some see monochrome as black and white, this is the first thing you have to get right, a black and white photo have no colour, they are black, white and grey.

Taking fantastic black and whites not solely depend on the equipment used, in most cases the camera you have are what you need, it is the focus and the decision of what to shoot that makes the biggest difference. Obviously, monochrome-only cameras provide a cleaner and sharper black and white image than that of a camera that takes colour photographs, but until you get your technique perfect the camera is not what would make the difference.

The Most Expensive Cameras for 2018

DSLR’s are less expensive and far more popular than ever before. The digital camera era of DSLR’s advanced at a rapid pace within the last two years and also provided more green manufacturing. The rate of DSLR has been greatly delivered by technological innovation, and you won’t find hobbyists delaying the purchase of a DSLR as their favourite first camera. Compact cameras are going out of style, while smartphone cameras are taking centre stage. Below, you will find the most expensive DSLR’s that are currently used by professional photographers.

1. Phase One XF 100MP – $48,900

This is a remarkable camera that comes with a stunning 100 megapixel sensor. It also provides tons of incredible features and offers you innovative freedom when you capture professional images unlike any other camera in the world. The image quality combined with innovative freedom enables you to create and develop outstanding artistry.

2. Hasselblad H5D Multi-Shot – $45,000

The incredible multi-shot system from Hasselblad is available in 200MP and 50MP resolutions. It offers users impressive detailing and managed to unlock profit-oriented and new innovative doors. The camera was produced for flexibility and high-quality images. It also provides the best viewfinder image where you can choose between eye-level finders and waist-level finders.

3. Panorama Seitz 6×17 Digital – $43,000

This is the only digital camera that offers 6×17 high resolution on the market. What’s even more impressive is that it can capture 160 million pixel scans in a matter of a second. The unique 6×17 format is extremely appealing and offers images that are both defined and beautiful. It also boasts with 300MB of data and captures images in lightning fast speed. You can also choose between Fuji, Linhof, and Schneider lenses which provides more flexibility for your images.

4. Panoscan MK-3 Panoramic DSLR – $40,000

This is essentially a DSLR camera developed for bird’s eye view photography. It can capture higher resolution convex scans in just over 50 seconds with a fast-moving speed around eight times which is unlike any other hardware when it comes to wide-ranging photography. You can take 360 degree images in under 8 seconds with the MK-3 Panoramic DSLR which is quite impressive, to say the least.

5. Pentax 645D 40MP DSLR – $10,000

This is a digital camera with film-format at a far more reasonable price. This incredible camera can deliver large print size resolution images of high-quality. It also comes equipped with a weather sealed body that is lightweight, and it can withstand snow, rain, and even dust. It has the ability to handle 14-bit RAW filed in both PEF and DNG formats. It also has the capacity to take 1.1 frames at 40MP resolution per second.

6. Nikon D5 – $6,000

This is considered the ultimate DSLR FX format that can take full-frame images at 20.8MP. It also boasts with the capabilities of capturing 4K Ultra HD videos and can continuously shoot at 12 frames per second. It is considered the best Nikon ever made.

Make extra income selling your images

So you’ve started taking some decent photos. Need a little extra income? Why not put your camera to use and make a little extra money selling micro stock photos? It can be easy and profitable.

This isn’t a get rich quick scheme, I’m not selling you an instructional booklet you have to buy for $19.95. But let me introduce you to Microstock photography. Many times for websites, advertising or whatever need, graphic designers, agencies, companies need photos. Its not always worth it for them to hire a photography and set up a shoot. A lot of times stock photos are purchased.

The designer goes a site, searches for photos that fits what they are looking for and buys them. The site money and the photographer gets a commission. Now, most likely your family portrait or snapshots are not going to generate much revenue or even be accepted by stock agencies. However if you spend a little time browsing through your photos, at least a few of the best might qualify and be suitable for stock. To take good stock photos firstly your images have to be well exposed, sharp and not too heavily processed. These let the designers do what they need to with the photos.

Your photos also must have stock value. So your family snapshots probably won’t see their way into company X’s next newsletter or packaging. Stock photos cannot have visible trademarks in them, and may also require a property release if a historic building is in it for example. You will also need a signed model release for every identifiable person in your photo. Most stock sites will have a model release you can download, and they will also usually accept generic ones from other sites as well.

What sells as stock? There are many thousands of images available of flowers and landscapes, so if your going to try and submit these, they had better be darn good. People photos sell, especially business people photos. People holding suit cases, in business meetings, group shots, medical professionals etc. Browse around at some of the micro stock sites I list below, most will have a popular images section where you can get a good idea of what you need. Most of these sites have a submission guideline as well, read through them.

Which sites should you sell at?

Casio EX-H20G Hybrid GPS Camera Review

The Casio Exilim EX-H20G incorporates a Hybrid-GPS system so you can easily geotag your photos.  For those of you that have never geotagged, it means that the location a photo was taken gets tagged into the photo data.  So when your viewing your photos on your computer or on a lot of photo sharing websites the position the photo was taken at can also be shown on a map.  Google Earth can also show you what photos have been taken based on location as well.

Disclaimer: I currently work for a company that distributes this camera, so take this review with a grain of salt!

This kind of technology is perfect for people who like to travel, and take lots of photos, it makes it easy to remember where things are like a restaurant you ate at while visiting a different country or exactly which Mountain your standing in front of from your last holiday.

The Casio EX-H20G records your location, altitude and direction the camera was pointing at.  It’s also capable of showing you nearby landmarks or scenic locations with a photo of that attraction.  This can be great if your travelling and don’t know local areas too well.  The camera’s map display will also show you other photos you’ve taken that are nearby where you are which I thought was a neat little feature.  The GPS in the camera is not designed to help you navigate and it won’t give you turn by turn directions, it’s currently strictly for geo-tagging photos.

A sample photo uploaded to Flickr. Flickr automatically reads the GPS data and can place the photo on a map where it was taken

I was highly impressed with the Hybrid GPS system.  Besides using GPS satelites to pin point it’s location, it also has built in motion sensors to help track it’s location.  The combination of the two reports a very accurate location of where you are, even indoors.  The GPS system is incredibly quick to lock-on and locate a position (presumably because the motion sensors already know roughly where you are).  Normally if you have a GPS off and drive around when you first turn it on, it can take a few minutes to location your position.  With the EX-H20G your rough position is displayed immediately, while it pin points your location very shortly after.  The speed the system locks on is faster than any other GPS I’ve used, including smart phone hybrid GPS systems that innitially estimate your position based on cell towers.

To give the Hybrid GPS a good test, I took the camera out to Durham Forrest in Uxbridge.  I know that another hand held GPS and both iPhones I have tend to have problems keeping a solid GPS satellite lock out there.  On this day my iPhone was again struggling to keep track of where I was, often losing satellite lock for 10-15 minutes at a time.  Through the thick snow covered forest my phone really had no idea where I was.  The Casio EX-H20G however always kept a very accurate position of where I was.  They hybrid technology had no problems whether the camera was left on or off.  By the end of my 3 hour hike the battery was still fresh while my iPhone battery had been dead for 1/2 an hour already.

The next test I had for it was to bring it indoors. So I turned off the Casio and drove home.  I made sure to leave the camera off the entire time.  At home I didn’t turn on the camera until in the basement. I can assure you no GPS works from there.  So it would be up to the Hybrid technology to have kept track of how far the camera moved since last on.  Incredibly the camera located it’s position perfectly!

Image Quality

Image quality was above average for a camera of this style.  The features of the camera below combined together to create some excellent images.  The combination of having a wide range of zoom, wide angle, shift stabilization and premium auto means it’s pretty easy to come up with the photo you’re looking for.   Colours are accurate and natural, the white balance and exposure was good,  and I had no image quality image issues.

Wide Angle 10x Zoom

The camera features a 24-240mm zoom which provides excellent range for a fairly compact camera.  I always like cameras that have a little bit wider lens.  It’s a lot easier to crop images if you don’t have enough zoom to get in tight on something now with high megapixel cameras, but more often than not there’s not enough room to backup and fit everyone or everything in that you want.

CCD Shift Stabilization

Worked very well for me. I had no problems getting a blur free shot zoomed all the way in outdoors on an overcast day.  Of course indoors would be a little harder, but the image stabilization worked very well.

Fully zoomed in at 240mm the sign is still easy to take a photo of without camera shake thanks to the image stabilization system


Slide Panorama

If you spend time on my blog, you’ll notice I like taking panorama’s of everything.  A lot of things are just too big and grand to fit in one frame.  The Casio EX-H20G automatically stitches panoramas together for you.  You simply choose the panorama mode, press the shutter and pan to the left or right and click the shutter again when your done.  The camera automatically takes a series of photos while your doing this and seamlessly stitches them together.  It worked very well for me.  The only thing I wish it could do is to be able to pan vertically.  Or pan with the camera in a portrait orientation instead of having to be in a landscape orientation.  For really large subjects like the Grand Canyon, I might still do it manually and stitch on the computer after, but for most people this is so much easier and will get them results they can be happy with.

In just a couple of seconds a panorama can be made with the Slide Panorama feature.

Premium Auto

I’m not normally a fan of these types of settings, but for most users it can make things pretty easy.  I actually found the premium auto worked pretty well for me.  Photos with the flash on I was especially surprised with.  The Premium auto did an excellent job controlling flash and balancing back lighting with subject lighting.  The only odd problem I had with it was in my studio with the modelling lights, it had a hard time keeping consistent white balance.  But it only occurred under this one rare and weird circumstance.

This image in low light with flash is done real well with Premium auto. The foreground, background balance and colour balance is very good.

Battery Life

Battery life was excellent! I had no problems taking photos over two days, outside in the freezing cold.  I was especially surprised because I left the hybrid gps on the entire time and I never had to recharge the battery once.

Summary

I loved the camera.  With the simplicity, accuracy and speed of the hybrid gps system you can easily tag and share your photos with this camera.  It just adds another dimension of sharing your photos or archiving them!  I’d recommend this camera to anyone who is adventurous, and likes to travel or just likes to share their photos online with friends and family.  I think a lot more cameras will incorporate geo-tagging in the future.  Having the functionality on one device makes it a lot easier than what most people including myself have been doing, which is using software to combine GPS locations with GPS tracks recorded on a separate device.

Canon 18-55 f3.5-5.6

This is the standard lens that came with my Canon Digital Rebel.  There is also now available a USM version of this lens that comes with some cameras, so check what you get before you buy.  The USM version is the ring type so it does not have full time manual.  This is a decent little lens, and it’s actually quite handy so I keep it in my camera bag at all times.

This lens is all plastic and feels cheap in construction.  Because it has a standard focusing motor it also focuses slowly and is quite loud. The upside is that it is very light, and very cheap for a wide angle lens.

Being a fairly wide angle is one of the saving graces of this lens.  There are times I want to take wide angle shots, and this lens comes into its own.  An 18mm lens becomes roughly  28mm when you consider the 1.6 crop factor of current Canon digital SLR’s.

I actually did some sharpness tests with this lens at different f-stops.  The lens actually performed pretty well. It held it’s own with my 28-105 wide open, and the results of my copy were actually surprisingly close to my 50mm 1.8.  If you’re on a budget I would definitely get this with the body of your camera in a kit. If however you plan to buy the Canon Ultra Wides such as the 17-85, 17-40, or even 10-22 than you could skip this lens.  But for roughly $100 more than just a body it’s hard to skip.

Another thing to keep in mind is this is what Canon calls an EF-S lens.  Which means it won’t fit all Canon bodies, only those that can take EF-S lenses such as the Digital Rebel series and the 20D.  I have seen some modifications on the internet though where you can shave some of the plastic off and get a fairly decent and super cheap lens for your higher end bodies.  I’m not sure why someone would buy a $5000 body and use a low quality lens such as this though.

Still, it’s a great wide angle lens with just a hint of distortion at the wide end and something I would always recommend.

Canon 75-300 f/4.0-5.6 IS USM

This is a very interesting lens, because it doesn’t have the best reviews online and has been recently discontinued. It was actually the world’s first SLR lens with the Image Stabilizer feature built in.  For a first generation product I think this lens does exceptionally well, and it’s a lens I very much enjoy using.

The biggest selling features of this lens is easily its long zoom range, the IS capability, and the price. This lens is great for shooting sports outdoors, wildlife and even macro photos.  The 300mm reach is excellent for getting close up shots of action and wildlife without having to get too close.  One of my favorite shots (The flying Monarch Butterfly) was done with this lens.  I could not have gotten this shot with any other lens I use.  The 300mm reach allowed me to get the close-up while the Image Stabilizer meant there is very little blur in the photo due to my hand shaking while chasing around that butterfly.

This lens while it has the USM title is not actually a Full Canon USM lens, which means it isn’t quite is quick but it also means there is no Full Time Manual focusing. You will have to flip the switch on the lens from AF to MF before using the manual focus ring.  Other than that this lens is very solid in construction, and although it is heavy, relative to lenses of this zoom range it is fairly light.

Canon actually has a few different versions of this lens.  Starting from the cheapest in price, there is one with new USM features at all.  A lens which is the same as this except with out the IS, and this one with the IS.  Canon also has a new version out which has a wider range from 70-300, improved IS but still no true USM.

While most people find this lens not sharp enough or fast enough, I do like it. I was skeptical at first but quickly grew to love the images I captured with it. While it’s not as sharp as my other lenses, it captures images I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to capture.

Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 II USM

This is another one of my favorite lenses, and one I’d highly recommend the new photographer or the enthusiast on a budget.  This is actually one of the cheapest Canon lenses that feature true Ring-Type USM focusing for excellent speed and silent operation.  If you have never tried one of Canon’s true USM lenses you’ll be in for a treat.  I use this lens with Canon’s EW-63II Lens hood.  It’s a little expensive, but it fits well and helps improve contrast and reduce annoying lens flare.

Another accessory I often use with this lens is Canon’s 58mm Close up Lens the 250D.  This is a screen on close up lens that produces some of the great macro photography you might have seen on this site.

Another feature of this lens is that the front element doesn’t rotate. Some of you might not be familiar with this feature or not understand why it would be important.  Well you might put a ND Grad filter or a circular polarizer on your lens to help with your picture.  When you focus if the front element of the lens rotates the filter will be out of position.  Because this is a true Canon USM lens, the focusing is all done internally which means your filters will stay in place properly.  I wish all my lenses were USM just because it’s so hard to use a circular polarizer on a lens that doesn’t have true USM.

This lens is very solidly constructed, and it makes a great walk around lens because it has good range, and isn’t too heavy. This is one of my favorite lenses to use because of the USM, weight, sharpness and range.  It is one of the most recommended consumer Lenses that Canon offers and a Lens I highly recommend.

 Focal Length   28-105mm
 Aperature  1:3.5-4.5
 Closest Focusing Distance
 0.5m
 Focus System
 Full Ring Type USM
 Filter Size
 58mm
 Weight  375g

Canon 50mm 1.8 MkII

This is easily by far the best value of any EOS lens that Canon sells. I highly recommend this for ANY photographer, no matter what your subject of interest is. It is a prime les of 50mm which is in a fairly good range for portraits.  This is often the lens I use for close up portraits, and it’s also the lens I use in low light situations because the lens lets so much light in.

The Canon 50mm 1.8 can be found easily in Toronto under $150, and it is probably the sharpest lens under $500 Canadian.  It is such a classic focal range that is recommended by many people to learn photography with.  Shooting with a prime lens really forces you to focus on what you are doing and developing skills in composition.  I would have to say some of my best photos have been shot with this lens.

Some of the downsides to this lens is that it lacks Canon’s USM (Ultra Sonic Motor) for focusing which can make focus a little bit slow.  It is also fairly flimsy for a Canon lens so you have to be more careful when using it.  Because of the price, this lens also doesn’t have an ergonomic focusing ring as well as a lack of distance markers on the lens.  However, its sharpness and speed more than make up for that though.  It also happens to be Canon’s lightest EF mount lens.

If you have a larger budget, consider getting Canon’s famed 50mm f1.4 USM lens. It doesn’t really add sharpness or speed wide open, but it is much more solidly constructed including a metal mounting plate, and to me most important Full Time Manual USM.

 Focal Length   50mm
 Maximum Aperature
 1:1.8
 Closest Focusing Distance
 0.45m
 Filter Size
 52mm
 Weight  130g

 

Canon Digital Rebel

The main camera I use for my photographs is my Canon Digital Rebel.  This is a 6.3 MP Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) that is a couple of years old now, but I find it has nearly every feature I need.

I love using this camera because it fits my hand well, does fairly well in low light situations, and I enjoy playing with the Depth of Field that only an SLR can provide.  The nice thing about Canon SLR’s are because of the way they are designed, they can fit lenses from many other manufacturers including Leica, Carl Zeiss, and older Pentax and Nikon lenses which can be found on eBay very cheap.

I’ve taken my Canon SLR all over the place and I couldn’t be happier.  If you are looking into getting into photography, definitelyconsider getting a Digital SLR, even if you are tight on budget, see if you can find a used one.  Consumer super zoom cameras just cannot come close when it comes to Noise, Depth of Field (Probably the most important reason), focus speed, and lighting flexibility.  An SLR camera will also be able to grow with you as you progress.  Think of it more of an investment.  With digital SLR’s you can invest in higher quality lenses such as Canon L lenses that will last you for years, no matter how the camera bodies evolve.

Nortown Camera Service

Nortown isn’t actually a retail store. They are a camera repair and service center.  My Canon Digital Rebel was having problems with taking photos (err99) and I called up Futureshop with which I had an extended warranty with.  They suggested Nortown for quick local repair so I drove my camera in and dropped it off.

The repair was incredibly quick.  They said repairs usually take 2-4 weeks.  In fact I got my camera back within 2 weeks.  My copy of the invoice says a chip was replaced, contacts cleaned, and the usual firmware update type things.  I would have to say I’m very happy with the repair and especially the speed of which it was carried out.  If your having problems with your camera definately check out Nortown.  They service all makes and do repairs for Henrys as well as Futureshop.  So you know they have a fair amount of work and inventory of parts on hand.  They seem to specialize in Olympus cameras but for sure they do Canon’s because I was told by the Canon rep all Canon cameras are to be sent there.  They were located on the west side of Toronto near Dundas and Hwy 427.  A bit of a drive for me from Markham but not too bad.

http://www.nortownphoto.com/