Color Mechanics and Your Camera

Flower

When it comes to photography, one of the most important things to consider outside of composition is color mechanics.  Color mechanics and how your camera interprets color is always a topic that makes for great discussion.  In fact,  I've touched on the topic of color and your camera/monitor as it relates to photography in the past.  Here are some articles I've written that speak to color and your camera:

Color and It's Impact on File Size

The Power of Color

5 Elements of Control #2 - Color

Hot and Cold Lighting

Each of these speaks to how color mechanics can be so powerful in your imagery, whether it's file size, the power of it in composition, or even it's impact on lighting.  What I came across yesterday, just added another element to the larger discussion...editing and post production!  The video came through my email via Digg on Sunday. If you're interested in the mechanics, math, and such of how color is calculated for digital displays, specifically when editing - this is a must see!

Clearly, the concept of color mechanics really can be discussed and evaluated to the Nth degree. That said, some content does better than others at demonstrating and explaining it clearly and in an understandable format.  I've tried on the occasions referenced above, but the video was such a cool way to explain it, figured it would be worth sharing.

Conclusion

All that said, what are your thoughts on color in photography?  Are you in agreement that color is a fundamental topic of importance that needs understanding?  Or do you think that color mechanics is not as important in the grand scheme of things?  What other topics or talking points would you consider "fundamental" to understanding photography?

Picking a Good Flash Battery for Your Gear

Eneloop Batteries from Sanyo
Eneloop flash battery
Eneloop flash battery

As with anything, photographers perform a natural progression with their flashes.  We start with the built-in flash, then quickly move to an added flash.  Said flash then becomes external, but still tethered to the camera, until finally we liberate the flash from the camera via wireless triggers and remote control.  Through all of it, we need to fire these flashes with some power source.  Inevitably, the question comes up about what flash battery is best for your gear and needs.

There are lots of flash battery options out there with options in every category from type of battery (alkaline, NiMh, and LiOn) to vendor (Sony, Sanyo, Duracell, Energizer, etc.), milliamps (1500 vs 2000 vs 2400), and then of course the never-ending debate over chargeable versus rechargeable.  As always, your mileage may vary, but I've always found some of the best results come from my usage of the Sanyo Eneloop brand.  These are rechargeable batteries and the ones I've used are the 1500 milliamp variety.

They've  been good, but after a couple years of usage and re-usage, it became time to get a whole new set.  So, I set out to look at how the landscape has changed in the battery realm.  Here's a couple things to consider:

1.  Normal versus Rechargeable:  This was almost a no-brainer given the cost per battery...go with rechargeable batteries.  After recharging, you can reduce your cost per charge down to mere pennies instead of even a dollar per battery with regular alkaline flash battery options.  The question is really whether you should choose the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (NiMh) or the Lithium Ion (LiOn).  The difference lies in your intended usage and needs.  The NiMh flash battery apparently charge much more quickly, but also deplete more quickly, and take fewer charges.  Conversely, LiOn flash battery does last longer, but also take longer to charge.  Additionally, you can also likely get more recharges out of these.  Of course, the downside is that the latter are a tad pricier.

2. Brand Stength:  Here I really think it comes down to personal preference.  Just like the Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevy, Canon vs Nikon, Mac vs PC debates, if you are strongly inclined by one brand or another, there is a battery out there that will work for you.  Pick your poison for whichever flash battery best suits your needs!

3.  Milliamps:  I liken the milliamps (mA) power of a battery to the Megapixels of a camera.  You can never have enough, and the race for more will never end.  Just a few years ago, a AA battery that had 1500 mA was cooking with gas.  Nowadays, that's pretty much the norm and 2400 or more is desired.  There have been some reports of the higher powered ones overheating and cooking your flash, so I tend to shy away from the onces that are juiced the most.  As always, your mileage may vary.

So, there ya have it - 3 factors to consider when buying flash battery for your gear.  What did I end up going with?  Sanyo Eneloop Pros - the 2000 mA variety:

I got some AA's for my flashes, and some AAA's for my wireless triggers...along with the charger and it was less than $40 after shipping...not too shabby imho.  What are your favorite batteries for your gear?

Go soak your gear!

It pays to review your web traffic periodically because I just learned a way that your bathtub can be used for photography!  Not only is it a good place to mellow out after a stressful shoot, but it also makes a heckuva softbox!  I was on a forum that had referenced the blog and a guy had some product that he placed in his tub.  I thought it was an interesting idea, and decided to give it a try.  As it turns out, the tub is a great place to put your gear!  Granted, not to soak it (sorry, but I had to tease the title that way), but to act as a great background and softbox combined in one.

Here's a few sample shots.  For all the tech-types, these are pretty much straight out of camera (or sooc) - all I did was adjust the WB for Flash and adjust the ACR sharpening from 25 to 75.  All are resized to 650px wide for the blog.  Here's the setup:  I took the Canon kit lens (18-55) on my 40D, threw on the 550EX, and set everything to default values.  Shutter at standard sync speed of 250, aperture at f8 and ISO at 100.  I powered the 550EX at it's standard setting, on camera (relax strobists - I can hear you shuddering from here),  and started firing a few shots.  I pointed the flash to camera right and got this:

ruler1

Yup, that's a God-awful shot, with a nasty shadow.  Perhaps I could ditch the shadow.  Since we're not exactly using conventional wisdom here, let's try it with the flash pointed straight at the subject:

ruler2

Hey!  That's actually not too bad.  It's not that great, and still definitely a "Meh" kind of shot as it's still got something of a shadow.  So, I spun the flash to fire above me and bounce off the ceiling:

ruler3

Voila!  You know what?  For being a spur of the moment thing, and without a lot of pre-planning or preparation, that's not bad at all.  And, it was shot in a bathtub!  Anyone else out there have a bathtub?  Try some shots in it for different items.  I used a tape measure, but what about a pen, or a microphone, or a printer, or even a lens?  I bet you could get some pretty cool results with very little setup!  Anyone else have some odd or unusual ways to get clean backgrounds and even lighting on the cheap?  Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and feedback in the comments.  Feel free to link your own efforts there too!  Happy shooting all and we'll see you back here again tomorrow!