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Shooting The Deep By Klaus M. Stiefel

Shooting The Deep By Klaus M. Stiefel

You probably have already done it several times this week, and without all that much effort: take a photograph. The advanced lenses, sensors and software of modern digital cameras make it easy to take pictures, and sometimes even good pictures. Cameras have come a long way since photography was initially invented in the late 1700s. Back then it was a cumbersome and slow business! Bulky photographic devices had to be set up for exposure times spanning hours, followed by tricky chemical procedures to develop the images. Today the near-magic advancements of optics and electronics have rendered the photographic process so simple that a whole class of consumer cameras is quite correctly called point-and-shoot.

But in some cases, taking pictures still involves extraordinary efforts, like those I made for my deep-diving underwater photography during the last few years. I brought my camera along dives on the spectacular drop-offs of tropical coral reefs in the 50 – 80 meter (165 – 260 feet) range, well below what recreational divers can reach. I experienced an amazing biodiversity, with a coral cover in pristine condition, majestic large barrel sponges multi-colored sea feathers and pulsating anemones everywhere. I saw rare and unusual animals, some of them possibly never before seen by human eyes, and I took photographs of many of these sea creatures. I took pictures of marine life separated from the regular realm of humans by a barrier of 80 vertical meters of salt water, exposed to a pressure of 9 bar, which is 9 times as much pressure as on the surface. In this hard to reach environment taking good pictures down there took even more of my efforts than merely going to these places. As a reward, I got shots of unreal beauty and scientific significance. In this article I want to share what it took to get these shots. First, I will briefly describe the diving techniques I employed; Then I will tell you about the photographic gear, techniques and mindset I had to have to resurface with beautiful images of deep reef marine life. I hope that this description will be interesting in itself; I also think that a lot of the photographic approaches I used constitute good lessons for any under-water or nature-photographer.

Reef Wall. Large soft coral make a hideout for tiny fishes, the reef wall makes a great dive site for my friends Matt and Jimin. 50 meters (165 feet) deep at the Monad shoal, Malapascua, Philippines. Canon EOS 5DII, 1/60, f6.3, ISO640. Canon L 17-40 mm lens at 17 mm. Hugyfot under-water housing, 2 x Inon Z-240 strobes.

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Compositing Images to Extend the Dynamic Range By Steve Paxton

Compositing Images to Extend the Dynamic Range By Steve Paxton

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography exploded in popularity several years ago and continues to captivate new and experienced photographers. Most people are struck by the extreme contrast and dramatic look of HDR images. With programs like Photomatix, virtually anyone with a digital camera can combine a series of images and extend the overall tonal range of a scene.

You can also enhance the perceived dynamic range of a scene by combining multiple images into a single composite. In this walk through, I demonstrate techniques for manually combining several photographs taken at varying exposures into a final HDR composite. I also share several of my favorite processing techniques for landscape photography. Image compositing takes patience and skill, but the results are usually worth the effort. Here’s the image we will be working with:

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Congratulations to Abe’s Summer Into Fall Themed Photo Contest Winner David Cross!

Congratulations to Abe’s Summer Into Fall Themed Photo Contest Winner David Cross! He will be receiving a $50 Abe’s Gift Card good towards his next purchase. Thank you to everybody who submitted and shared their photography!

Last Summer Night Meets First Fall Morning

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Congratulations to Abe’s Summer Into Fall Themed Photo Contest Winner Dorothy Miller!

Congratulations to Abe’s Summer Into Fall Themed Photo Contest Winner Dorothy Miller! She will be receiving a $50 Abe’s Gift Card good towards her next purchase. Thank you to everybody who submitted and shared their photography!

Fall Floats Softly In...

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Getting Started with iPhoneography… and Instagram! By Lolita B.

Getting Started with iPhoneography… and Instagram! By Lolita B.

I’ve loved taking photos since I was a child, a love affair that continues today. As an adult I did all the things most amateur photographers do: invest in a good DSLR camera, take courses and determine what my path in the wide world of photography would be. That path took shape in a very unexpected way in March 2011, when I downloaded a then-unknown app called Instagram. I was immediately hooked and my devotion to iPhone photography began. As a result, many doors have opened, I’ve made some wonderful friends…and my love for photography has increased tenfold! Here, I’ll share with you tips and advice that I’ve acquired along the way which can be applied to Instagram, iPhoneography, social media and even good ol’ DSLR photography!

Self-Portrait with iPhone

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The Emerald Goddess of Dancing, The Aurora By Moyan

The Emerald Goddess of Dancing, The Aurora By Moyan

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It was like an emerald goddess dancing for me in the silence of a dark night…….

It’s called aurora, better known as northern/southern lights, or aurora borealis/australis, depending on which pole you are referring to. In my opinion it is one of the most desirable shots for any photographer to capture. It is a spectacular yet elusive shot. Fortunately for everyone, 2012 and 2013 will provide multiple opportunities to capture this beauty.

Tromso Norway, beach of Telegrafbukta, February 2012. Shot with a Nikon D90, 16mm lens EXIF f3.5, ISO 400, exposure 30 seconds

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Congratulations to Abe’s Photo Contest Winner Craig Jordan

Congratulations to Abe’s Photo Contest Winner Craig Jordan! He will be receiving a $50 Abe’s Gift Card good towards his next purchase. Thank you to everybody who submitted and shared their photography!

Rain & Son

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Congratulations to Abe’s Photo Contest Winner Michael Sargent

Congratulations to Abe’s Photo Contest Winner Michael Sargent! He will be receiving a $50 Abe’s Gift Card good towards his next purchase. Thank you to everybody who submitted and shared their photography!

Up Close and Personal with the Hummingbird Moth

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Self-Publishing Photobooks By Alex Baker

Self-Publishing Photobooks By Alex Baker

Bored with taking pictures of the same old stuff in the same old way? Make a photo book with a theme!

Although I love my home and wife and kids and cat and garden and neighborhood and town and state, I confess I can get bored taking the same old photographs of all the same old stuff.  I have to come up with new ideas and new places and new methods to keep myself interested.  One of the really great advantages of the digital age that I find  interesting and enjoyable is self-publishing. Back in the in the pre-digital era, publishing your work, was filled with frustrating barriers and expense, and out of the question if it was just for your own enjoyment to share with family and friends. Well, not anymore, it’s a new day and all the tools are at hand on the popular photo hosting sites like Snapfish, Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug and others. Full disclosure: I have a pro account on Smugmug and I’m very happy with it.

Things are changing rapidly. Some wedding photographers will even give you your wedding photos on a CD and let you make your own wedding albums.  That can be a loss of income for the photographer, but also a loss of significant aggravation and time that could be spent shooting.  When my wife and I got married a few years back that is just what I did in fact and it worked out really well.  I had made my first printed photo book. Not my photos, but I learned how easy it was to do. In that case it was a simple Snapfish album.  My daughter and her wedding photographer did the same thing later on.  Then when one of our sons got married I did it again with the candids that his step-mom and I had each shot, so they had a real profession (and excellent) wedding album from the professional wedding photographer and another “family” album of amusing, touching candid shots that we had done.  The two albums complimented each other.

Making a Wedding Album – it’s easy!

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Capturing Sunsets On Beaches By Raymond Pauly

Capturing Sunsets On Beaches By Raymond Pauly

I became a photographer the day my dad put a Brownie Bullet camera in my hand when I was 8 years old. Since then I felt a thrill every time I opened the envelope with the 12 prints of the photos I had taken at the photo shop. They were my very own creations! I still have one of my sister riding a pony, which is a pretty decent shot! The Brownie Bullet, which I still keep, was followed by a Canon Snappy, then a Pentax K1, and my favorite, a Canon T70. But that was many years ago and, even though photography has always been a part of my life, I never took it all that seriously. With the advancements of digital photography, which my dad never got to know, I got hooked again by photography and a new story began.

Salinas Bay, Guanacaste Costa Rica. Canon EOS 40D w/ Canon EF-S 10-22 lens @ f/29, 1/3 sec., ISO-100, focal length 17mm

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