AF-ON & Back Button Autofocus: This May Just Change the Way You Shoot Forever

February 4th, 2014 by Clay Cook

Perfect Pounce

Still autofocusing by pressing halfway down on your shutter release? Well, suppose I told you there’s another way that you might even like better? Sound interesting? Read on.

The technique is called Back Button Autofocus and it can really change the way you use your camera. Rather than autofocusing with your shutter release, you move the autofocus function exclusively to a button on the back of the camera. When you first hear about this technique, it’s natural to greet the idea with a bit of uncertainty, but once you get used to focusing with this method, you may never go back.

See, Back Button AF turns focusing into an almost instinctive act for many photographers. It’s a fantastic alternative to switching between single shot AF for static subjects or continuous AF for action. With back button AF, you can do whatever you want – instantly. I’ve been using it for years, and I’m confident in saying that this technique has helped me land some of my best shots.

Naturally, this is a case of personal preference, however, wouldn’t you like to see if you should add this tool to your arsenal? Check out the video below for details. Oh, and don’t worry – nearly every Nikon DSLR supports the feature and the video shows you exactly how to set it up. Why not give it a try for a couple weeks and see what you think?

Video

Sample Photos

Below are a few sample shots. As a wildlife and landscape photographer, Back Button AF really comes in handy, but keep in mind it’s just as effective on portraits, sports, street, architecture, or whatever style of photography you enjoy. By the way, all were resized using my web sharpening technique you can find on my YouTube channel.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter – Review

January 24th, 2014 by Clay Cook

When I received wind that Outdoor Photo Gear was being sent a quadcopter from DJI, I could barley contain my excitement. I had never flown any sort of remote object and was itching to get the copter into the air. Finally, when the package arrived we literally ripped open the box to find an assortment of screws and attachments. It was overwhelming, but with a simple read of  the instructions it was all put together in a matter of 10 minutes. We let out a loud sigh as we read the batteries for both the copter and the Wi-Fi extender would need a full day charge. So we plugged everything in and tried to forget about it. 

When I walked in the next morning the shipping department already had it out and ready to go. We had recruited our friend Ryan Amburst, who owns a DJI Phantom himself, to come out and give us crash course on the copter. After a series of GPS calibrations, Ryan lifted the copter into the air and all our faces lighted up with amusement. It feel like Christmas morning with a new toy in hand and it was all ours. One by one each of the staff took a run with it, at first I felt nervous to be flying it, but soon came to realize simply how easy it was to handle. Withing 5 minutes, I felt like a professional remote pilot flying this thing. The hardest part of the entire system is remembering what controls what. After some experience in flight it soon becomes second nature.

The true beauty in it all is that even in-experienced or first timers can fly this copter. The entire system is ran on several GPS points, so you can literally let go of the controls and it will stay stationary. If the wind takes it left it will automatically correct back to it’s original position. If for some reason the copter goes out of range or out of sight, it will automatically(with an alert) return to it’s take off point. With a first flight, I do recommend flying in a open field with no trees or power lines. Even buildings and walls can cause trouble if you’re not careful. I say that because, we did hit a few bumps a

Got Gloves?

January 13th, 2014 by John Adkins

Its the time of year (for those of us in the Northern hemisphere) for shoveling driveways and sidewalks, scraping ice off of car windows and generally freezing our butts off.  The older I get, the more Florida sounds like an awesome place to live. :)   That being said, we have to deal with the cold and for most of us, that means bundling up with multiple layers, wearing heavy coats and hats, and donning the ever fashionable snow boots, but what about those hands?

I for one, absolutely hate wearing gloves.  You can’t do anything that requires delicate touch with gloves on, nor can you really feel anything.  But this year, due to the extreme cold we’ve experienced (some days the highs were below freezing), I’ve had to re-think my opinion of gloves.  My long, skinny fingers and hands have froze to beyond numbness on more than one occasion so I broke down and bought yet another pair of winter gloves… where do they all go?  I know I’ve had several pairs over the years, the glove fairy must be swiping them!  This time however, thanks to my friend Chris at Outdoor Photo Gear, I got an awesome pair of gloves that solve a lot of problems for me.

These gloves are the AquaTech Sensory Gloves, and they are called that because on the index finger and thumb of each glove, there is a hole that you can slide the tips of your fingers and thumbs through, giving you the ability to have touch and feel again with your finger tips!  When you’re not using the holes, there is a sleeve inside that you put your finger and thumb in to keep them warm.  You can see how this works in the photo below.  As always, you can click on any pic for a larger view…

 

Not only do these gloves have holes for your fingers and thumbs, they also have a really good grip thanks to all those little nubs on the palm sides.  They’re also light weight, bend easily and are incredibly warm!  Another cool little bit is that they’re water proof as well.  They have velcro

Exploring Negative Space in Landscape Photography

January 8th, 2014 by Robert Rodriguez Jr

One of the key ingredients of successful photography, and one that still lies exclusively within the control of the photographer, is strong composition. In landscape and nature photography composition is more important than ever as technology makes capturing properly exposed images easier and easier. But how you frame a scene and decide what to include or exclude is still the domain of vision, creativity, and your unique perspective.

Composition is all about balance, and one of the tools we can use to achieve proper balance is negative space. By negative space I mean areas of the composition that are either relatively empty or devoid of any significant detail. The key word here is relative, meaning it depends on what else is in the frame and what the subject matter is. What may appear to be negative space in one image may not have the same effect in another. It all relies on context and overall balance, or what we often call visual weight.

Different parts of an image will add visual weight to the scene—essentially where the eye will slow down or even stop—where it feels it needs to rest. That weight needs to be in balance with the rest of the frame for the image to feel right. Negative space can act as a counter balance, as a way to bring more attention to the “positive”parts of the composition and control where the viewers eye moves. Of course, everyone sees differently, which is why simplicity is always a good place to start.

Seeing is believing, so here are a few examples for you to consider.

Catskill View, Mohonk Preserve
Canon 1DS Mk III, 19mm, f/16 @ 2.5 sec, ISO 400 (no filters)

In “Catskill View” above, I wouldn’t necessarily call the sky featureless, but in relation to the foreground, it is. In my mind I thought clouds would add to the image, but as I was composing the scene, I struggled with all of the detail and “weight” of the lower right side, which for me was the subject matter. I wanted to keep the viewer’s eye in the foreground, but not let the image feel out of balance, so the sky acts as a counterbalance, keeping the viewer returning to the details I thought were crucial to the image.

Fighting Condensation with Reasonable Methods

January 3rd, 2014 by Martin Bailey
Condensation on Canon EOS 1D X

Condensation on Canon EOS 1D X

I received a question recently from listener Derek Bezuidenhout asking about condensation issues in cold weather.  I’m asked this a lot and usually have one main bit of advice and that is to ensure you put your gear back into your camera bag before going indoors. There are a few other things to consider though, so I thought we’d go over this today, especially as many of us in the northern hemisphere are getting well and truly into our winter seasons now.

Viewfinder Misting Up

Derek’s question was actually in two parts. The first asking if I had problems with my viewfinder misting up in the cold, and if so, what do I do about it. Yes, I do sometimes get a misted up viewfinder. It’s actually usually only when the temperature is floating around freezing point and when it’s either raining or snowing. Once it gets much below freezing, I don’t see this.

When it happens, my methods for cleaning the viewfinder are very basic. I often find that it happens just as I’m trying to capture something where timing is important, so I simply stick my finger into the viewfinder and wipe it. If I’m wearing gloves, the cloth of the gloves helps to remove the moisture, but if it’s my finger, it really just smears the water across the glass.

This generally clears the viewfinder enough for me to continue shooting and I might then use a lens cloth to give the viewfinder a wipe to clean it up some later, but if it’s misting up a lot I just keep wiping it with my finger until I get home or back to a hotel later in the day, when I might clean the viewfinder with a lens cloth again just to get rid of any smearing that might be left behind.

Derek also mentioned in his email that Scuba divers often spit in their masks to prevent them from misting up, and I have tried licking the viewfinder, but I honestly didn’t find this very effective, so my main method remains  a mixture of wiping with my fingertip and cleaning with a lens cloth as time allows. I believe there are anti-misting sprays that you can use too, but I’m not sure how effective these are. I guess I have not

Photo Tip – Seeing Double

January 2nd, 2014 by Steve

Here is a fun little shot I made of two frogs in a pond covered in duckweed. The basic theme here is a repetition of the main elements within the image. The two frogs visually play off of one another and become a visual echo of each other. It’s important in a composition like this to make sure both frogs have equal weight within the shot. You don’t want either frog to become visually dominant or the main focal point of the image. The comparison of the two is the focal point. By keeping them equal in visual weight we emphasize and celebrate the symmetry between the two. Additionally, the beautiful S-curve in the negative space of the image adds much to this composition, helping to gracefully tie the two frogs together.

UX For #togs – Shortcuts and Consistency

December 20th, 2013 by Theodore A. Stark

The brain is truly amazing. At any given second, it receives millions of signal inputs with the current research suggesting an approximation of 40,000,000[i]. Impressive, eh?

 Dealing with such a massive amount of information at once, the brain has a couple of tricks to deal with that volume. One such method is the utilization of shortcuts, or rules. These shortcuts are established based on your own experiences. Thus giving additional credence to the notion that experience can make you wiser.

 Shortcuts are efficient because it denotes which signal inputs can be handled by your subconscious, or hidden brain, and which ones require cognitive processing cycles found in your conscious brain.

 It is important to note that the terms conscious and subconscious portions of the brain are used for illustrative purposes. The dichotomy (or trichotomy) of thought patterns is also referred to in the literature as System 1 and System 2[ii] [iii], Active and Hidden[iv], New Brain/Middle Brain/Old Brain.[v]

 Shortcuts tend to be funneled through the subconscious brain because shortcuts are rarely questions and so they do not require much (if any) thought. Although we know we need to turn the handle to open the door, this does not mean we think about it on every door we encounter.

2013 Holiday Staff Picks & Free Upgraded Shipping!

December 17th, 2013 by Clay Cook

Throughout the year we run across products that just blow our mind! These are a few of our picks that have really caught our eye this year.  In the video below Troy The Elf not only reveals a great deal we’re running on shipping, but also divulges his products picks for 2013 along with a few others from OPG!

Here are links to our picks for 2013!

Photek Softlighter II Umbrella 46″ 

Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover

Black Rapid Curve Sling Strap

3 Legged Thing Brian

CamRanger

Hoodman RAW Steel 16GB CF Memory Card

Think Tank Photo Turnstyle

Gura Gear Water Bottle

Vanguard Quovio 66

Think Tank Photo My 2nd Brain

No One Cares About Your Image Processing

December 4th, 2013 by Robert Rodriguez Jr
_W3D1993

Moab, UT – Canon 1DS Mk III, f/11 @1/80 sec, ISO 400, 24mm (EF24-105mm f/4 L)

“When you create images that reflect your vision of the world, the only rule is that there are no rules. No one cares what you did to the image to make it look the way it does; they care only that your image moves them. The viewer wants so much to believe in your image that he or she is willing to suspend all disbelief to take the journey.

Camo Friday 2013!

November 27th, 2013 by Clay Cook

CamoFriday13

 

BLACK FRIDAY IS CAMO FRIDAY

Thankfully Troy The Turkey escaped the band of rogue pilgrims and was able to reveal the top secret deals this Thanksgiving week! Like our Facebook page, following us on Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date!