Facelift Friday

With February now in the archives, I figured this may be as good a time as any to get a head start on some Spring Cleaning with the blog.  The theme I had been using for the last year or two had been getting a little dated, and the designer has not issued any updates since 2007.  Additionally, some portions of the blog just were taking more muscling to conform to the evolving standards of CSS, XHTML, plugins, and even WordPress itself.  So, consider this a Facelift Friday!

Those of you on the blog, you can see what I am talking about – this new theme is much more photo friendly – the header image is more standardized, so I can start putting more of my images into the rotation for everyone to enjoy.  Plugins also enjoy more support, as does the RSS, calendar, and other sidebar features.  For those of you picking this up via the feeds, please take some time to stop over and enjoy the new layout.  This is, of course, the “first look”, and I will likely be making some adjustments as things settle in, including widening the body width for the main posting area, and dressing up the edges a little.  Any ideas for what to consider?  More pics?  Perhaps some page links?  (I noticed the pages area is now not visible from the main one…)  Feel free to chime in now while I am still in “clean-up” mode!

Okay, so the Spring Cleaning is a little premature, but felt it was needed due not only to update some features, but also due to some coding deficiencies were brought to my attention (thanks, and shout outs to Kerry of Camera Dojo!).  Anyway, on a happy note, I’ll leave you with a little WTD humor since it’s been a while for a comic post:

What the Duck
What the Duck

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to share your thoughts on the new theme/layout in the comments – it’s now or never to see your feedback implemented!  Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here Monday morning!

Great Green Gobs of Grapes!

This week has been a particularly creatively filled one here on the blog:

  • Monday I shared the HDR image workup from last weekend and published the weekly podcast
  • Tuesday had another shot showcasing the benefits of looking all around for ideas (including behind you!)
  • Wednesday was the more detailed explanation of the Lensbaby Composer and selective focus

And now today, another source of inspiration from the kitchen!  I was cleaning some grapes for lunches and was struck not only by their size (these things were huge!), but also by the cool way the light in the kitchen was bouncing off each grape in the colander.  It helped that the colander is stainless steel and reflected some nice green tones back onto the grapes themselves, making them look even greener.  On instinct, I took a few, and here’s the best of it (and although it was taken with a 70mm Macro, this was not taken from macro range – that should tell you the size of these guys):

Grapes Galore!

Not too shabby for a “spur of the moment” capture.  Nothing like what you’ll see over at Mike Palmer’s blog (he does a lot of cool shallow dof work with food photography, and is a friend-of-the-blog), but a step in the direction of creativity anyway!  Catch an cool colors in your kitchen lately?  Share your thoughts, perspectives, links to other images, ideas and feedback in the comments section!  Keep on shootin’ and we’ll see you back here for the Friday post!

The Lensbaby Composer

For those of you that are regular podcast listeners, you know I talked recently about the Lensbaby Composer and what it can do for your photos.  In the podcast you heard the terms “selective focus” but the term is kind of hard to explain without a visual, so I thought I might be able to do it better justice with a visual here today.  Take a look at this setup:

lensbaby1

So, if you are looking at a scene from camera view 1, and you want the sharpness of your image (your viewers attention) to focus on something at point B, it’s easy to do this.  Simply drop your aperture wide open and the depth of field will throw points A and C out of focus naturally.  Pretty easy, no photo editing, no trickery or anything involved – the mechanics of apertures and depth of field handle this for you.

Well, take a moment to consider things from the viewpoint of Camera Two.

lensbaby2

You still want the focus to be at point B, but because both A and C are also positioned relative to the camera at the same place (they are not in front of or behind the point of focus, they are merely off to the sides of the point of focus), dropping your aperture wide open will not throw A and B out of focus – they still there, just as sharp as point B.  Well, up until now, you’ve always had to take images taken under situation 2 and bring them into image editing software to blur, dodge, burn, and otherwise minimize the attention that points A and C got from the viewer eye.

Well, what the Lensbaby does, through it’s unique combination of lens elements that include an actual curved optic and a curved field of focus, giving you a round spot of focus, so that it allows you to set point B as a single point of focus, so that A and C will fall off in sharpness, bringing the viewer back to your desired point of what to look at.  (The eye will almost always naturally look for sharpness and light in images…)

So now, dodging, burning, blurring and other darkroom and software techniques are no longer needed!  The Lensbaby allows you to create these visions in camera, not afterward in post processing.  What does this mean for you?  More time shooting, and less time photo editing!  Who doesn’t want that?

The coolest part of the new partnership with Lensbaby is that they’re also offering anyone reading the blog or listening to the show an opportunity to get a 0.6x wide-angle/macro conversion lens for the Composer lens totally free! Imagine taking your creative visions to a whole new level with the Composer lens from Lensbaby – and then add the macro capabilities, and literally, the sky is the limit!  Your creativity knows no boundaries with lens-work like this!  So, if you are looking at adding the Composer lens to your gear bag (and you can purchase it from any retailer), then look no further, because from here you can get a free 0.6x wide-angle/macro-conversion lens from Lensbaby as a way of saying thanks.

Expanded creativity + Free gear = lots of fun

Sounds like a perfect equation for me!  So, stop on over to the partner website they made just for Canon Blogger listeners and readers to get your free lens today.  This is a limited time offer, and I am not sure when it will end, but the Composer and the companion 0.6x wide-angle/macro conversion lens (which you can get for free) would have been very useful this last weekend on the Eldorado shoot.  Remember the rock fissure?  Imagine if I had a chance to fade the DOF out away from the rock completely?  What about the rear window reflection?  Imagine if I could have faded the front window part out of focus completely?  Both of these shots might have ended up in my portfolio!  As they are, I’ve got two snaps that while interesting, will likely never get added to the print portfolio…

Does this help clarify how the Lensbaby works and what it does?  I know it’s a very simplified version, and the folks at Lensbaby have a lot more resources to help explain it than I do so be sure to visit their partner landing page here to learn more about it!  If you’d like to see some samples of the lens at work, (my lens hasn’t arrived yet) make sure to stop over to the gallery page here too!  Got some pics you’d like to share?   Link them here in the comments section (or even share then with the good folks at Lensbaby – they like to hear feedback from the field so share your thoughts and shots with them too!)  Finally, to learn all the details about this promotional offer, stop over to the page the folks at Personal Life Media have set up here.

If you do have pics and thoughts to share here, feel free as always to drop me an email, and you could be on the show!    For those interested in buying the composer, make sure to visit this link here to get the free macro conversion lens!  Questions, comments, feedback and ideas are welcome at my email address (as always) is jason <at> canonblogger <dot> com!

Check them out today – then get back out and keep on shooting!  Hope all your shots are good ones and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!