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Michelle Rae Uy

Shooting in bad weather, as it turns out, is twice as difficult, if not more. Trust us on this; if you’ve never shot in harsh weather or rough conditions before, you might have to go home disappointed, whether you’re coming back from a snowstorm in the middle of winter or from punishing high winds in the desert.

Not only are the elements working against your shot, but you also have to make sure that you and your gear are safe. That’s not even mentioning the fact that you also have to deal with the extra layers of clothing, limiting your access and mobility.

However, if you come prepared, you’ll have an easier time and a more seamless bad weather shooting. Don’t get us wrong; it’ll still be hard. But you’ll have a higher chance of getting good photos. If you’re risking life and limb to take pictures, don’t you need to increase your odds of getting great shots?

Check the weather before you go (and track it during your shoot).

Though, word of warning, increasing your odds by coming prepared won’t make a difference if you’re contending with extreme weather. Shooting in a deep freeze or a light sprinkle is one thing; shooting in a blizzard or a flash-flood-causing downpour is another and also not worth risking your life. Do yourself a favor: check the weather the day of your shoot, not to mention the road conditions, and re-assess the situation. And then, if you still have service, track the weather over the day and keep an eye on your nearest horizons for any incoming changes. For example, even if it’s still bright and sunny, a wind storm in the desert means dust, which is very bad for camera internals.

Dress appropriately.

Don’t just throw on a thick jacket and a pair of boots then head out, if you’re shooting in the winter. Or wear cooler clothes in the summer. That’s simply foolish. You have to account for everything.

If it’s going to snow hard, make sure you have waterproofed top layer. Otherwise, you’ll end up sopping wet in a matter of minutes. If you’re stomping your way through the rainforest, you might need to wear long pants and protective boots, so the mosquitos and leeches don’t eat you alive. If the temperatures are in the negatives, you need—among many other things—a pair of heavy-duty photography gloves so you can still take photos without your hands freezing.

Do your research as far as appropriate attire and gear; it’s better to be over-prepared than to be dead.

Bring your most versatile gear.

Planning a shoot in bad weather includes assessing your gear to see which items are the most versatile and useful to you. The goal is to carry as little as possible so that you won’t waste precious energy carrying a heavy load. Also, only switch lenses when necessary because you don’t want to keep exposing the sensor to the elements. As for cameras, we’ve found shooting with Olympus OM-D series bodies and M.Zuiko PRO lenses offer the most in-camera weatherproofing, while the Nikon Z series, D7XX, and D8XX series bodies are also quite rugged.

Carry a sturdy tripod.

Adding to that, bring your toughest gear, from your most weatherproofed lenses to a very sturdy tripod that can withstand the heaviest winds. Remember, you are dealing with harsh weather. Relying on a flimsy tripod, you’re only risking your expensive camera and lenses as well as forfeiting opportunities for great shots.

Protect your gear.

Even if your $2000 camera and your $1500 lens have dust and moisture resistance, a second layer of protection is always a good idea. After all, your battery might drain in freezing weather, and it would be a pain to clean if covered in dust.

A cold and rain protector will help prevent your battery from draining as well as keep your hands warm when you’re shooting. Keeping heat packs inside the protector is also a good idea. If shooting in scorching weather in the middle of the day, bring a towel to keep your camera out of direct sunlight.

Pack extra batteries.

Since extreme temperatures affect battery life, but it’s a good idea to carry extra batteries with you just in case the cold/rain protector, and heat packs don’t work. If you’re traveling, don’t forget to pack your battery charger, and if camping for a couple of days, a portable power station so you can recharge those batteries when necessary.

Try manual focus.

Weather elements like wind, snow, and dust can cause your camera’s autofocus system to act erratic—unless, of course, you have a camera with an autofocusing system that handles those conditions well as there are a number of them (the entry-level full-frame beast Canon EOS RP, for example). When it starts doing that, switch to manual mode and adjust the focus yourself. It’s a lot more efficient than waiting for your camera to lock it down; not to mention, such a time saver.

Be extra patient.

Since shooting in bad weather is a lot harder than usual, have patience. Yes, if it’s super hot or cold, you’ll probably feel rushed and try to take as many shots as quickly as you can so you run for shelter as soon as humanly possible. It’s human nature. However, as long as you and your gear are safe, resist the urge; trust us, you’ll most likely go home with photos are may be useable, but could a lot better if you had just taken your time.

The post Rugged Photography: How to Shoot in Bad Weather appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Steve's Darkroom by Michelle Rae Uy - 3d ago

Michelle Rae Uy

Looking to produce better, smoother videos? You’ve come to the right place—as far as gear is concerned, that is. Whether or not your go-to camera has decent in-body image stabilization, investing in a gimbal or stabilizer can go a long way. They’re not only useful in really minimizing camera shake and shooting smoother videos; but they’re also opening you up to a world of cinematic movements, tricks, and angles. Though, just like with anything else, there’s still the matter of choosing which one’s the best for you and your needs. Here are our top five picks for best gimbals on the market in the Spring of 2019

DJI Ronin-S: For a Splurge (DSLR/Mirrorless)

 

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

DJI made a name for itself building some of the best gimbals and drones for professionals and consumers alike. And while there are a lot of other manufacturers out there that do produce great gimbals, this Shenzhen-based company has a lot of them beat.

For an excellent 3-axis gimbal for DSLR and mirrorless cameras weighing 3.6 kg (7.9 lbs) and under, the DJI Ronin-S is a high-quality, if not the most affordable, choice. Splurge $750 on this, and you’ll get a reasonably lightweight stabilizer with its own Focus Wheel, SmoothTrack feature for more seamless movements, a Sports Mode for fast-moving subjects, and creative features like Timelapse and Motionlapse in the app, not to mention a battery life of 12 hours at full charge.

Best of all, it has a pretty intuitive design, so it’s pretty easy to figure out even when you’ve got zero gimbal experience.

Zhiyun Crane 2: Best Gimbal All Around  

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

The much cheaper Zhiyun Crane 2 is only $549 and has fantastic features, which is why it has consistently made it on many folks’ picks for the best gimbals on the market and why it’s getting our Best All-Around vote.

This gimbal has a slightly lower load weight limit of 3.2 kg (7 lbs), but it offers many of the same features as the Ronin-S and then some. Both Servo Follow Focus and a Focus Wheel for manual focus are on hand, as is a Quick Control Dial to change camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There’s also an OLED Display so you can quickly see what control mode you’re on, how much battery life you have, and what your settings are.

As opposed to the Ronin-S’ 12-hour battery life, this one’s got 18 hours of juice, so you have even longer recording sessions.

Zhiyun Crane V2: For Value (DSLR/Mirrorless)

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

If shelling out over $500 isn’t even an option, worry not. You’ll have to limit your camera/lens set-up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and lighter. It’s also not as impressive as the Crane 2, but at $370, the Zhiyun Crane V2 still does a great job of giving you smooth videos without burning a hole in your pocket. Plus, it’s one of the best gimbals for consumers.

Features include MotionMemory, Intelligent Object Tracking via the app, a 45-degree Synchronized Roll, ability to do NightLapse, and a POV mode so that your camera rolls left or right when you roll left or right, among other things. It also offers up to 18 hours of battery life at full charge.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2: For Camera Phones

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

Whether you often use your smartphone as your back-up camera or you mostly rely on it for shooting your videos, it might be useful to spend a hundred dollars (or more accurately in this case, $134) on a gimbal for your mobile phone.

We love DJI’s Osmo Mobile 2, as do many video shooters who are not necessarily technically proficient. It’s a very easy gimbal to use and boasts a few features in it lightweight body including ability to do ActiveTrack, Hyperlapse and Motionlapse as well as the Zoom Control feature for more seamless, cinematic zooming and 15 hours of battery life.

Even if you’re not planning on doing anything with your videos, this is an excellent companion to record all your travel memories since it is light and small.

Ivation Pro Steady: For Manual Use

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

If all those buttons, dials, and automated features are proving a little too distracting for you, you might be more comfortable with a rudimentary design, basically bringing all the controls back to you.

Much cheaper than the other four picks at $50, the Ivation Pro Steady is all manual with two handgrips, a shoulder mount, and nothing else. Of course, for more flexibility, its grips and joints are easily adjustable to meet your shooting needs. It also has an extendable rear arm and several interfaces so you can easily connect other video recording equipment like a screen and video light. When you’re done, you can easily put it away as it is foldable for transport or storing.

The post 5 Best Gimbals Worth Buying appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michelle Rae Uy

The number of camera bags out there is overwhelming. And perhaps because we are in the age of Instagram where even non-photographers are getting in on the action, more and more camera bag manufacturers are popping up. Your list of options, therefore, is as long as your arm, even longer, which makes it almost impossible to choose the best one for you.

Some of those camera bags are better than others, tried and tested out in the field by pro and experienced shooters as well as fledging ones working hard on their craft. Here are five such bags, one for each type of photographer.

The Boy Scout: Atlas Athlete Camera Pack

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

Much like the Boy Scouts’ motto, Be Prepared, Atlas Packs’ Atlas Athlete Pack doesn’t just have enough compartments to fit several lenses and two camera bodies. It also has space for your hiking or quick backpacking essentials, allowing you to be prepared for any shooting and hiking scenarios while on the trail. And yet, that’s only the beginning.

This expandable backpack, voted by NatGeo as one of the best camera bags for travelers, has a back panel for quick gear access, an Origami camera core so you can reconfigure the camera section based on your packing preferences, space for a 15-inch laptop, and a water repellent ripstop shell in case of rain.

The Minimalist: TOPO Core Pack

Click HERE to purchase!

When you’re not in photographer mode, you can use this handsome TOPO backpack for every-day use. Its design is smart enough for the office or a meeting but casual enough for activities like traveling and light hiking. Plus, it has a padded compartment for your laptop, a front internal organization panel for your small essentials, two self-adjusting side pockets, and a hydration/electronic cord port.

When you switch to photographer mode, you can easily fit one or two TOPO camera cubes in there to pack two camera bodies and four lenses, and you still have space left over for personal essentials. The best part is that you’re also keeping your gear protected and organized, so you won’t be going home with a backpack whose inside looks like the aftermath of a tornado. You’ll never, ever feel the need to buy a separate camera pack.

The Stylish: Vinta Type-II: Camera Backpack

Click HERE to purchase from B&H Photo-Video!

If you’re the sartorial type of photographer, style—alongside utility—is of the utmost importance, whether you’re roaming the streets of Venice for photographic opportunities or taking on a tough trail for the sake of that epic mountain shot. Which leads us to Vinta’s Type II: Camera Backpack Kit…

This smart-looking pack fits two camera bodies, five lenses, and your 15-inch laptop comfortably, and still has enough room for a water bottle, a tripod, an extra shirt, and your lunch if you’re the latter. You can even fit it with Vinta’s leather attachment straps to secure things at the bottom—a blanket, perhaps. And don’t worry; Vinta includes a Compact Field Pack because you shouldn’t pay extra to protect and organize your gear.

The Practical: Think Tank Photo TurnStyle 20 Sling Camera Bag V2


Click HERE to purchase from Amazon.com!

There’s a reason Think Tank is named the way it is, and it shows in its products designed for the pragmatic, rather than the trendy, users. For the practical photographer who only wants to carry the absolute essentials, this compartmentalized sling camera bag tucks in a camera body and two lenses, or a body, a lens, and a speedlight, with extra space for your iPad and small essentials, which is all you need whether you’re doing street photography or going on day excursions.

The Photo TurnStyle 20 Sling Camera Bag also boasts a stabilizer strap to keep it stable when you’re on the go. Best of all, you can wear it in the back to get it out of the way or up front for easy access to everything.

The Casual Shooter: ZKIN Cetus

Click HERE to purchase!

Casual shooters need not carry several lenses when traveling or out on day outings. More likely, they’ll be carrying a fixed lens camera or a compact mirrorless with its kit lens attached or even just an instant film camera and their camera phone. In that case, ZKIN’s small yet stylish Cetus, which comes in six different colors/designs, might just be the ideal camera bag.

It’s big enough to fit a camera as well as a few traveling essentials like your wallet, passport, an 8-inch tablet, and power bank, to start, but it’s also compact enough so as not to be a burden when you’re on the go. It’s also water repellent so light rain won’t scare you back indoors.

The post Camera Bags for Every Type of Photographer appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michelle Rae Uy

Looking to produce better, smoother videos? You’ve come to the right place—as far as gear is concerned, that is. Whether or not your go-to camera has decent in-body image stabilization, investing in a gimbal or stabilizer can go a long way. They’re not only useful in really minimizing camera shake and shooting smoother videos; but they’re also opening you up to a world of cinematic movements, tricks, and angles. Though, just like with anything else, there’s still the matter of choosing which one’s the best for you and your needs. Here are our top five picks for best gimbals on the market in the Spring of 2019

DJI Ronin-S: For a Splurge (DSLR/Mirrorless)

 

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

DJI made a name for itself building some of the best gimbals and drones for professionals and consumers alike. And while there are a lot of other manufacturers out there that do produce great gimbals, this Shenzhen-based company has a lot of them beat.

For an excellent 3-axis gimbal for DSLR and mirrorless cameras weighing 3.6 kg (7.9 lbs) and under, the DJI Ronin-S is a high-quality, if not the most affordable, choice. Splurge $750 on this, and you’ll get a reasonably lightweight stabilizer with its own Focus Wheel, SmoothTrack feature for more seamless movements, a Sports Mode for fast-moving subjects, and creative features like Timelapse and Motionlapse in the app, not to mention a battery life of 12 hours at full charge.

Best of all, it has a pretty intuitive design, so it’s pretty easy to figure out even when you’ve got zero gimbal experience.

Zhiyun Crane 2: Best Gimbal All Around  

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

The much cheaper Zhiyun Crane 2 is only $549 and has fantastic features, which is why it has consistently made it on many folks’ picks for the best gimbals on the market and why it’s getting our Best All-Around vote.

This gimbal has a slightly lower load weight limit of 3.2 kg (7 lbs), but it offers many of the same features as the Ronin-S and then some. Both Servo Follow Focus and a Focus Wheel for manual focus are on hand, as is a Quick Control Dial to change camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There’s also an OLED Display so you can quickly see what control mode you’re on, how much battery life you have, and what your settings are.

As opposed to the Ronin-S’ 12-hour battery life, this one’s got 18 hours of juice, so you have even longer recording sessions.

Zhiyun Crane V2: For Value (DSLR/Mirrorless)

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

If shelling out over $500 isn’t even an option, worry not. You’ll have to limit your camera/lens set-up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and lighter. It’s also not as impressive as the Crane 2, but at $370, the Zhiyun Crane V2 still does a great job of giving you smooth videos without burning a hole in your pocket. Plus, it’s one of the best gimbals for consumers.

Features include MotionMemory, Intelligent Object Tracking via the app, a 45-degree Synchronized Roll, ability to do NightLapse, and a POV mode so that your camera rolls left or right when you roll left or right, among other things. It also offers up to 18 hours of battery life at full charge.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2: For Camera Phones

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

Whether you often use your smartphone as your back-up camera or you mostly rely on it for shooting your videos, it might be useful to spend a hundred dollars (or more accurately in this case, $134) on a gimbal for your mobile phone.

We love DJI’s Osmo Mobile 2, as do many video shooters who are not necessarily technically proficient. It’s a very easy gimbal to use and boasts a few features in it lightweight body including ability to do ActiveTrack, Hyperlapse and Motionlapse as well as the Zoom Control feature for more seamless, cinematic zooming and 15 hours of battery life.

Even if you’re not planning on doing anything with your videos, this is an excellent companion to record all your travel memories since it is light and small.

Ivation Pro Steady: For Manual Use

Click HERE to buy from Amazon.com!

If all those buttons, dials, and automated features are proving a little too distracting for you, you might be more comfortable with a rudimentary design, basically bringing all the controls back to you.

Much cheaper than the other four picks at $50, the Ivation Pro Steady is all manual with two handgrips, a shoulder mount, and nothing else. Of course, for more flexibility, its grips and joints are easily adjustable to meet your shooting needs. It also has an extendable rear arm and several interfaces so you can easily connect other video recording equipment like a screen and video light. When you’re done, you can easily put it away as it is foldable for transport or storing.

The post 5 Best Gimbals Worth Spending Money On appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michelle Rae Uy

I don’t know about your mom, but mine is obsessed with taking photos of everything. By everything, I mean EVERYTHING—from special occasions and family vacations to a casual mid-week lunch, all of which she shares on Facebook. Yes, even the bad ones. And I’m pretty sure she isn’t alone.

Yes, it can be a little tiresome, especially when the whole family has been on the road for a week and all you want some quiet time alone to focus on your own photography (or maybe, that’s just me). But we tolerate it because we know they’re not doing it to fuel social media envy… or at least, not just. We know that they’re also doing it because they’re proud of us and want to share every single moment they spend with us with the rest of the world.

But I digress.

If your mom’s anything like mine, getting her something camera or photo-related might be better than shelling out money on expensive chocolates or flowers. Take it from us; she’ll appreciate it more. (That is, unless she really, really loves chocolate.)

Here are five great gift ideas perfect for photo-obsessed mammas.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99

Click HERE to buy a Sony HX99 from B&H Photo-Video!
or
Click HERE to buy a Sony HX99 from Amazon.com!

If your mom’s always been the camera phone shooter, perhaps it’s time to give her photo taking chops a bit of an upgrade by way of the new Sony HX99. This pocket-sized wonder boasts a few aces up its sleeves that makes it better than her iPhone X: a 28x optical zoom that beautifully preserves image quality, an impressive image stabilization so mom can say au revoir to shaky vacation videos (at 4K, I might add), and a fast continuous shooting of 10fps so she can capture younger sis in action at her soccer game.

Does mom adore taking group selfies with her friends? It has an LCD screen that tilts up 180 degrees. And of course, to satisfy her need for instant gratification, it also easily connects to Sony’s Imaging Edge app so she can upload her photos and videos to her phone then immediately share to her heart’s content on Facebook.

The Sony HX99 is a bit of a splurge for a Mother’s Day’s present at $448, but the woman carried you in her belly for nine excruciating months, for sobbing out loud. Commit.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90

Click HERE to buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 from B&H Photo-Video!
or
Click HERE to by the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 from Amazon.com!

If your mom’s anything like mine, she might get a kick (and a bit of nostalgia) out of our modern-day version of Polaroids. Not to say, of course, that Polaroid is no longer relevant because the company IS still rolling out their instant cameras. If that sounds much cooler in your opinion, we do love the OneStep 2 Viewfinder i-Type Camera in Summer Blue, just the perfect companion to take on your family summer vacation.

But if you want to take it easy on mom, Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90 sports an equally retro look but is easier to figure out and use if you’re not a proper photographer. It has automatic flash and exposure compensation, offers double exposures, and allows selfies. Plus, the Instax Mini film it uses is considerably much more affordable at around $10-$12 for a box of 20 sheets.

Trust us; she’s going to have fun taking flat lay photos of those credit card-sized prints to share on Facebook.

Camera Phone Lenses

Click HERE to buy an olloclip Mobile Photography Boxed Set from B&H Photo-Video!
or
Click HERE to buy a Moment Tele 58mm Lens from Amazon.com!

However, if your Mom is still sticking to her guns and staying true to her iPhone, then she might appreciate a camera phone lens set instead. Sure, there’s a lot of generic ones out there that are—let’s just be honest—terrible, but a couple of the top camera phone lens brands are well made. Even actual photographers enjoy using them.

Does she love taking pretty portraits of you, your siblings, and the whole clan? Moment’s Tele 58mm Lens is the perfect little lens. It’s a tad expensive at $120, but it is made of quality materials (none of that cheap plastic crap) and produces gorgeous images. Though do bear in mind that you also have to purchase an M-series Photo Case OR Battery Photo Case to mount it.

On the other hand, if she loves taking photos at parties and on vacations, she’ll swear by olloclip’s Mobile Photography Box Set. It comes with a super wide-angle lens for landscapes, cityscapes, and street photos; a macro lens for close-ups; and a fisheye lens for the fun moments. This one’s a tad cheaper at $100, and you get three lenses for the price of one. That’s a deal your mom can get behind.

Photo Book

On a budget? Borrow mom’s phone real quick or hack her iCloud, which shouldn’t be hard since she’s probably entrusted you with the password anyway. Select and secure 20 or more of the best shots stored in her phone, then proceed to create a photo book for her. It makes for a lovely and thoughtful gift that will keep on giving, and it’s also considerably more affordable than a brand-new camera.

There are several excellent photo book services online, one of which is Amazon Prints. An 8×11 hardcover book here with 20 pages starts at $22. The service also offers themed books for travels, birthdays, and holidays, as well as allows you to design one yourself. Not too shabby for a gift that’s probably cheaper than a bouquet of two dozen roses.

A Photo Shoot

Better yet, utilize your photography skills to treat mom to a two-hour photo shoot (then get her the photo book using the shots from your session). Take her to her favorite place in your city in a beautiful dress, and snap away. Bring the whole family as well to mix it up.

You probably already take photos of her every time you’re together anyway, so you might as well use all that “training.” This time, however, make it special and bring your best portrait lens with you.

The post 5 Mother’s Day Gifts for the Mom Obsessed with Taking Photos appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michael Palmer

Olympus Visionary Larry C. Price travels the world, documenting crises and conflict. He’s won not one, but two Pulitzer Prizes for his photojournalism. And we’ll even add on an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for covering the dangers of underwater gold mining in the Philippines. His most recent project, produced for Undark Magazine, involved traveling to seven diverse cities across five different continents to document the human effects of toxic PM2.5 air pollution.

The results, which you’ll see below, are startling.

Larry’s photos are as haunting as they are beautiful, painting a stark portrait of this world where people live and suffer in the smoke and haze of our industrial bad habits.

For those who don’t know, PM2.5 are hazardous, microscopic airborne chemical particles — sulfur dioxide from power plants, nitrogen dioxide from vehicle exhaust, etc. Most are produced by humans — burning coal & trash and driving vehicles with poor emissions — and what makes them so harmful is their size. At 2.5 micrometers or smaller, these hazardous chemicals easily slip past our respiratory system and lodge themselves in our lungs and bloodstreams.

You can read the full report, and see all of Larry’s photographs, over at undark.org, but we had the pleasure of interviewing Larry about this project, his work and process, and his current gear. I hope you enjoy it.

NOTE: all images © Larry C. Price and have been reposted here with his permission.

Santiago, Chile

Steve’s Digicams: You recently completed a seven-part series on PM 2.5 air pollution (congrats on the George Polk Award, by the way). How did you come to partner with Undark Magazine on this project?

Larry C. Price: This was my second project for Undark Magazine. I’ve been working on stories involving the health effects of environmental pollution since 2012 when I completed a series of stories on child labor abuses in small-scale gold mining in Asia. While photographing these stories, I became aware of the use of mercury in gold mining and the associated health hazards. I became interested in toxic pollution in global industry and photographed a story for Undark about the hazards of chromium pollution from waste products in the tanning and leather industries of India. Undark published this as a four-part series in 2016.

Undark is an incredibly well-designed publication and I wanted to do more work with them. In 2018, I proposed a story looking at the effects of atmospheric pollution on the Indian sub-continent. There is a massive and persistent “pollution zone” from Pakistan that spreads eastward across Indian and Bangladesh. I pitched a modest story to concentrate on pollution in India. Undark felt the proposal was too modest and suggested we expand it to a global report concentrating on PM 2.5, a deadly component of atmospheric pollution that can directly enter the bloodstream and cause a host of deadly diseases. So the project was born and ultimately included seven countries on five continents. I have a great relationship with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington D.C. They are a non-profit journalism foundation that provides grant-based funding for long-form journalism. They have been very supportive of my early work on child labor and now my environmental stories. They provide funding for travel to produce these stories once I have an interested publication.

Patna, India

You and your partners visited Patna, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Southern Nigeria; Shijiazhuang, China; the San Joaquin Valley, California; Santiago and Coyhaique, Chile; and North Macedonia. How did these places become the focus of the project, and had you ever been to any of these locations before?

We used a variety of sources to confirm these locations were among the world’s most polluted places. Sources like the World Health Organization, Worstpolluted.org, Pure Earth International and Green Cross International constantly compile data that include PM 2.5 averages. We chose seven locations based on pollution levels, geography and accessibility. I had worked in five of the countries over the years, so I felt equipped to deal with the cultures and travel difficulties unique to each location.

Shijiazhuang, China

I noticed each project location features a different writer paired with your visuals. How did this process work and how long did you spend in each location?

The project was conceived as a highly-visual multimedia endeavor and Undark wanted a consistent photographic style. I shot stills, 360 and drone video in each location. Undark assigned writers based in each location. In the case of North Macedonia, Tom Zeller, the editor-in-chief of Undark, did the writing for that part. In several cases, I worked alone to shoot the visuals then briefed the writer who pulled background and data together and interviewed their own sources. Otherwise, the writer and I worked the story at the same time. I spent two to three weeks in each location, so there was enough time for us to split up when necessary.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

You’ve been reporting on pollution for some time, but were there any big surprises during this particular project?

I think the biggest surprise is how overwhelming and pervasive air pollution is on a global scale. It’s unbelievable how thick and heavy the atmosphere can look when the air quality indices are in the red zone. What’s not surprising is that so many people become so sick with long-term exposure.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Pardon the oversimplifying, but your style seems to be a combination of pure documentary as well as specific compositions that help dramatize the realities of working and living in harsh environments. How do you approach these shoots?

Over the years I’ve worked to minimize the gear I use on assignment and to lessen the impact of the photographic process on my images. I try to find compelling situations and then capture impactful instant that makes the most compelling image. I generally avoid extremes focal lengths––I’d say about 80 percent of my photographs are made with a moderate wide to gentle telephoto zoom. On occasion, I’ll use a long telephoto to compress perspective. That’s a holdover from my newspaper days!

Dhaka, Bangladesh.

What was the hardest situation to photograph, emotionally or physically?

Children in difficult situations. I’ve done many stories over the years about children in need. These are always the hardest to do but the ones that have the greatest chance of bringing about social change. The PM 2.5 project depended more on endurance than physical strength. On assignment, I walk probably 6-10 miles a day. That’s with gear, so I’m glad my knees are in good condition. I try to stay in reasonably good shape, but I admit I feel it at the end of a long day on the streets. When I did the gold stories, I was often climbing down into these narrow mining shafts––sometimes several hundred feet underground––to photograph the kids at work. This was very demanding and dangerous. But that’s what these children do each day, so I figured I could do it too.

Kosturino, Macedonia

How did your editing process work on this project — how many files did you start with, what software do you use, and how did you approach your edits, stylistically?

I generally work with one camera and two lenses. I’ll travel with a spare body and perhaps a backup lens (yes, I’ve destroyed gear on assignment) but I try to keep things simple and under the radar. I shoot a lot of images when I’m working, perhaps a couple of thousand exposures in a long day. There will be lots of redundant images, but I’m after nuance, refinement, best moment, body language, etc. If I see a nice image, I’ll work it until I know I have the best shot.

All these images are ingested onto two portable drives when I get back to the hotel each night (one hard drive is simply a backup clone.) When I fill a card, it’s stored away––I never reformat cards on the road. So, I have three copies of my work at all times. Once the card is ingested, I’ll set about editing in PhotoMechanic to choose and caption the best images. These selects are ingested into Lightroom where they’re toned and added to a “collection.” From the selects, I’ll assign “4 stars” to the final edit and these are sent to the publication.

On this project, I generally decided on 80-100 submissions. For publication work, captioning and metadata are very important. I’ve used PhotoMechanic since version 1.0 and find it the fastest way to cull huge numbers of images.

Onitsha, Nigeria

You’ve had a decades-long, award-winning career as a photographer. You’ve shot film. You’ve shot digital. Tell me what drew you to Olympus cameras and lenses.

I’ve long admired Olympus as a brand, even going back to the 70s when I started working professionally. I love their philosophy of developing compact, travel-friendly equipment. My introduction to modern Olympus digital equipment coincided with my transition to digital for the majority of my work. I worked with an early Olympus camera on a book project called A Day in the Life of Africa in 2002. It was my first real digital project. I fell in love with the little E-20 digital camera Olympus provided to the photographers. I immediately saw the possibilities of digital imaging and never looked back. I’ve used Olympus gear exclusively since then. Their gear is perfect for the way I work, and their lenses are second to none.

Shijiazhuang City, China

What’s in your kit right now?

Right now, I’m using the new Olympus E-M1X body along with my trusty E-M1 Mark II. I’ve been traveling with the beautiful 12-100mm f4 PRO zoom. It’s a great travel lens. For low-light, I like the 17mm f1.2 PRO. I can shoot in any conditions with just these two lenses. I generally take a small tabletop tripod, a tiny LED light panel, a Garmin VIRB 360 camera, a DJI Spark drone, a Rode Video Mic Pro, a Sennheiser wireless mic setup, and a ZOOM H1N digital recorder. A small pouch holds extra batteries and cables. All this fits in a Think Tank Urban Approach 15 backpack. The Urban Approach will fit on the smallest regional jet and, in a pinch, fit under an airline seat.

Lagos, Nigeria

Do you have a favorite M.Zuiko lens?

My all-time favorite is the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO zoom. It’s a stunningly sharp lens and is fast enough to work indoors without supplemental lighting. I’ve taken it on many trips as my only lens and never felt lacking. I love the Olympus fast pro-series primes: the 17mm 1.2 is a favorite.

Patna, India

What’s next for you?

I’ll keep working on environmental projects for now. I’m developing a few stories on topics I discovered while shooting the PM 2.5 project.

The post Olympus Visionary Larry C. Price Photographs the Human Cost of Air Pollution appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michelle Rae Uy

Click HERE to buy the Sony a6400 from B&H Photo-Video!

Click HERE to read our full Sony a6400 review over on the main site!

Sony a6400 Short Review

The Sony a6400 is a mid-range camera that might have a few flaws, but overall gives you the best bang for your buck. At $900 (body only), this compact, magnesium alloy-made APS-C mirrorless camera is feature-heavy where it matters most and performs beautifully when it comes to producing still images.

Yes, it’s missing some important elements, namely in-body image stabilization (considering its plethora of video-focused features), and an SD card slot that supports UHS-II for faster write speeds (considering its speedy continuous shooting mode and fast autofocusing system).

Yet on the flip side, the Sony a6400 boasts a breathtaking AF system reminiscent of the more powerful a9, accurate and fast EyeAF, and oversampled 4K recording, to name a few. And while its design is very similar to the Sony a6300, the a6400 adds a few upgrades that include an LCD that tilts upwards up to 180 degrees and better build quality.

Overall, the Sony a6400 is perfect for beginners, casual shooters, and bloggers/vloggers. If there one major point of contention, it would be its terrible rolling shutter. But even that is easily avoidable.

(30mm, F/4, 1/200, ISO 100)

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(46mm, F/4.5, 1/50, ISO 2000)

(36mm, F/4.5, 1/40, ISO 4000)

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Michelle Rae Uy

You’re starting to know your way around your camera and master the fundamentals of photography. And now you’re probably ready to take your photography game to the next level. To do so, you’ve got to learn a few new tricks including how you can utilize lens filters to your advantage.

Lens filters are some of the most common accessories experienced photographers use to help them achieve the most ideal exposures. They’re also some of the most important tools of photography, but don’t be intimidated. Filters may not be as simple as slapping them onto your lens and pressing the shutter, yet they aren’t too hard to figure out either.

There are a few types of lens filters out there. There are the basic ones that you’ll end up using most of the time and there are those special few like colored, diffusion, and starburst filters you might bust out on rare occasions. However, since you’re fairly new to the craft, let’s start with the ones that will be the most useful to you. Here are five of them.

UV Filters

In the case of a drop or a fall, a UV filter might just be the most important lens-saving accessory investment. Lenses, of course, have front elements that are coated with some level of protection, but while that might be enough to prevent minor scratches, it isn’t enough to stop hard bumps that might cause real damage.

UV filters add an additional shield to your lens to keep that front element away from dirt, moisture, scratches, and even breaks. If you’re wondering why they’re called UV filters, it’s because they were originally created to prevent the sun’s UV light from adding haziness to the photographic film loaded in a camera. However, since manufacturers now design cameras and lenses with their own UV protection, photographers have been using these filters as the first line of physical defense.

For a steal: Tiffen 58mm UV Protection Filter

For a splurge: Zeiss 77mm T (UV) Ultraviolet Filter

Polarizing Filters

Polarizing filters, on the other hand, have a more technical function. Their main task is to block scattered light from going through into your camera. Consequently, they reduce haze; minimize glare from certain, non-metallic surfaces; and cut reflection on water surfaces and glass. These filters also have the ability to darken the blues of skies, make foliage colors pop, and boost your clouds instead of overblowing them.

For these reasons, polarizing filters are the perfect accessories for nature, seascape, and landscape photography. Keep in mind, though, that these filters work best when you’re pointing 90 degrees away from the sun (and not directly at or away from it). And remember to rotate this filter, depending on how strong you want or need its polarizing effect.

For a steal: Tiffen 77mm Circular Polarizer

For a splurge: HOYA 77mm PRO1 Digital Filter Circular Polarizer

Neutral Density Filters

Ever wonder how photographers get that silky water effect in broad daylight while still achieving a perfect exposure? That’s all thanks to the light-reducing powers of neutral density (or ND) filters, whose main function is to decrease the intensity of light that reaches your camera’s sensor.

Think of them as sunglasses for your camera. These nifty filters that vary in strength (also called stops), with each stop essentially doubling your exposure time to let your camera produce beautiful motion blur without overexposing the shots. These are excellent for shooting waterfalls, getting still-looking waters, and achieving that streaking clouds effect, as well as capturing the motion of people and fireworks.

For a steal: Gobe ND8 77mm MRC 12-Layer ND

For a splurge: Breakthrough Photography 77mm X2 6-Stop ND Filter

Graduated Neutral Density Filters

The best way to tell the difference between a regular ND filter and a graduated ND one is that the former has a solid tint while the latter transitions vertically from tinted to clear. That’s because GND or ND Grad filters are designed to help you balance the exposure in your frame when you’re shooting a bright sky and a darker landscape. The tinted part helps cut the brightness of your sky while the clear part lets you expose the landscape as you would normally.

Much like ND filters, GNDs also vary in stops, depending on the strength of the tint. But they also come in two types: Hard-Edge GND and Soft-Edge GND, with the Hard-Edge being ideal for very distinct and abrupt bright to dark change (as in a flat landscape with an obvious horizontal line) and Soft-Edge better serve situations where there’s no definite straight line separating the sky from the landscape. There are also Reverse GND filters whose middle section is the darkest part to help you shoot the perfect sunrises and sunsets.

For a steal: Cokin P Series H300-02 Hard-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter Kit

For a splurge: LEE Filters Graduated Neutral Density Soft Filter Set

Close-Up Filters

Most photographers have had a go at the intricate and precise art of macro photography, which takes a lot of patience and practice to master. Probably the one thing that discourages a lot of photographers from it is the fact that you do have to invest in a specific type of lens—a macro lens, which can be expensive—to do it right. If you don’t have the budget for a new lens at the moment, you should be able to yield some decent macro shots with a close-up filter instead.

Close-up or macro filters might not be as powerful as a proper macro lens, but they do get you to roughly the same terminus ad quem. Essentially, these filters shorten the close focusing distance of your lens (remember that lenses have their minimum focusing distance) to let you get closer to your subject and still be able to focus. Obviously, they’re hardly a replacement for real macro lenses. However, in many cases, they’ll serve your purpose, and they’re also good enough for practice until you’re ready for the big league.

For a steal: Vivitar 77mm Close Up Macro Lens Kit

For a splurge: Hoya 77mm Close-Up Filter Set

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Camera Lens Filters appeared first on Steve's Darkroom.

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Michelle Rae Uy

Click HERE to buy the Sony HX99 via B&H Photo-Video!

Click HERE to buy the Sony HX99 via Amazon!

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 Short Review

For a $450 camera, the Sony HX99 compact is packed with features many higher-end cameras might fall short on. It boasts Sony’s Optical SteadyShot, which works beautifully especially when shooting videos and when you’re zoomed in all the way, and has a powerful 28x optical zoom that makes it super versatile. It also touts 10fps continuous shooting, fast EyeAF, uncropped 4K at up to 30fps, and a touchscreen LCD that offers touch focus, touch shutter, and a 180-tilting ability. And those are just to start.

Unfortunately, it also falls short on a number of important things including noise handling, autofocusing accuracy, and metering, all three of which affect the camera’s overall still image and video qualities. However, to the untrained eye, those things aren’t really as apparent, and this camera is more geared towards users who shoot casually or need a compact they can easily carry around for travels and everyday use.

Click HERE to read our Sony HX99 FULL REVIEW over on the main Steve’s site!

(24mm, F/8, 1/30, ISO 1000)

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(155mm, F/8, 1/250, ISO 80)

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Michelle Rae Uy

Click HERE to buy a Canon EOS RP from B&H Photo-Video!

Click HERE to buy a Canon EOS RP from Amazon!

Click HERE to read our Canon EOS RP Full Review!

Click HERE to see more EOS RP Sample Images from our media trip to New Orleans!

Canon EOS RP Short Review

Canon’s engineers have decided it’s time for mainstream camera consumers to get a taste of life with a full-frame image sensor. The EOS RP, the second Canon mirrorless R body, is being touted as entry-level, which is fair as it does have features like a simple user interface and single SD card slot. However, from an image quality, ergonomics, and ISO performance standpoint, this little full-frame that could goes head-to-head with some of the best enthusiast level cameras out there. The RP has also inherited some of the Canon EOS R’s best attributes, but it also boasts its own unique functionalities like improved EyeAF and Focus Bracketing, adding to the long list of reasons why we want this camera in our arsenal.

Yes, it’s got a few shortcomings—the video capabilities are very limited, there’s no in-body image stabilization, and, despite the improvement, Canon’s EyeAF is a letdown compared to Sony and Fuji EyeAF. But for an entry-level camera with a full-frame sensor and a $1300 price tag, it’s still pretty darn impressive.

Canon EOS RP Gallery

The following images were captured in and around Los Angeles with a full production ROS RP body and firmware. Please click on any image below to see or download the full resolution file.

(24mm, F/4, 1/800, ISO 100)

(53mm, F/4, 1/640, ISO 100)

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(50mm, F/1.2, 1/1250, ISO 100)

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(27mm, F/4, 1/640, ISO 100)

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(29mm, F/4, 1/1600, ISO 100)

(24mm, F/4, 1/1600, ISO 100)

(45mm, F/4, 1/1600, ISO 100)

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