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Popular Photography

Popular Photography September 2014

Popular Photography brings you step-by-step secrets of the pros for taking their most amazing shots. You’ll discover the best equipment at the best prices, get comprehensive comparative reports on cameras, lenses, film, digital equipment, printers, scanners, software, accessories and so much more. Get Popular Photography digital magazine subscription today.

United States
Bonnier Corporation
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1 min.
nikon d810

NIKON HAS enhanced this follow-up to the full-frame D800 in all the right ways: a new 36.3MP sensor (with the same pixel count as the D800); Expeed 4 chip; an option for smaller RAW files; and an ISO bump up to 12,800 (expanded: 51,200). Nikon claims the new processor enables a 25 percent increase in frame rate (now up to 5 frames per second at full resolution) and a 30 percent increase in processing speeds. The camera can shoot small RAW files (see page 16), at sizes of about 9MB, a fraction of the 60MB+ “traditional” RAW files from the D800 (and presumably, the D810). A higher-res 1,229K-dot LCD, brighter OLED viewfinder info display, reworked autofocus algorithm, updated sequencer and mirror balancer (to cut down on vibrations), and a new stereo mic…

2 min.
light for easier retouching

“I LIKE cheeks and noses to have a 3D pop,” says Phoenix-based rock photographer Merek Davis. It's no surprise then that his portraits of acts such as Before You Fled (above) are known for their dimensionality. He gets it by deepening the shadows and lightening the highlights in his subjects' faces in retouching. “Before I can sit down at the computer, though, I need a base shot that I can work with, and that starts with the lighting,” says Davis. He wants a flat, low-contrast light that will let him capture all the detail in a scene in a single exposure. “I'm not a big fan of harsh lighting,” he says. “I can add contrast later with a lot more control over where and how much there is. It's easier to add…

4 min.
step 1

FROM KIDS to professional photographers, everyone is snapping more and more images around the clock with smartphones and immediately sharing them via Instagram, Facebook, Imgur, or Tumblr. It's fun, it's easy, but in some cases, it just isn't satisfying. Why? Smartphones' built-in cameras work really well, but not with high-contrast, low-light, or fast-action scenes. But with the recent development of cameras offering wireless connectivity, you can take advantage of the best your “real” camera has to offer—a larger sensor, higher bit-depth, better and interchangeable lenses, fabulous low-light performance, and high-speed shooting. It's easy to transfer your high-quality photographs to your smartphone for creative processing and instant sharing. For this article, I worked with the Sony a7R interchangeable-lens compact and an Apple iPhone 5. But even if you do not have this exact…

2 min.
step 1

SPILLED PAPRIKA looks like a mess to most people, but to Matthew Albanese, the red powder looked like a Martian landscape. So, in 2008, he started playing with paprika, and out of those experiments grew an ongoing series of 21 dioramic photos called Strange Worlds. “Promised Land,” shown here, is one of them. Growing up, Albanese was obsessed with how movies were made. He dreamed of working behind the scenes, making sets and creating special effects. He began by shooting his own sets populated with action figures. Now, Albanese, 31, is a New York City-based commercial photographer. Building dioramas can be a photographer's playground; you can control every aspect of the shoot, from the entire contents of the scene to lighting, perspective, or mood. Our suggestions here could help you give it…

5 min.
the brightness factor

IT IS OFTEN said that light is the lifeblood of photography. What exactly does that mean? Aside from the obvious fact that without illumination there would be no image, the quality and characteristics of light greatly determine the visual impact that a photograph will have with a viewer. Light, for better or worse, can turn an expertly composed scene into something bland and boring—or transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and magical. For the novice, determining the difference between good and bad light can be confusing. There really is no objective scale for “good” and “bad,” only various degrees of accommodating light for different photographic situations. The key to mastering light is knowing how to match the available natural light to the appropriate scene, subject, or situation. To help illuminate this process,…

4 min.
some renting scenarios

A great photo job opportunity lands in your lap—but you don't have the required gear, and can't afford to buy it. Or you'd like to sample that dream lens or pro-level body—but the price is absurdly high. The solution: Rent it! EQUIPMENT RENTAL has always provided both amateurs and pros an affordable alternative to purchasing expensive gear. But the rental business has undergone a sea change, due to both economic upheavals and the emergence of the Web as a commercial powerhouse. (In the past few years, several big-name New York City rental houses have closed up shop, including Allkit, Calumet, and Lens and Repro.) Now the action is very much with the Internet rental outfits—such as lensrentals.com, borrowlenses.com, and other players (see sidebar). The remaining brick-and-mortar rental stores are usually also…