Technically Speaking

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Seth Shostak  |  Feb 21, 2017  |  0 comments

Shooting color used to be simple: you just dialed in your white balance and fired away. Excepting the rare cases where the colors had to be spot on (such as in fashion photography), this straightforward approach was close enough for most types of photography.

Seth Shostak  |  Jan 31, 2017  |  0 comments

White balance sounds like one of those concerns that vaporized with the advent of digital photography. In the days when film was king, you had to think about the color quality of light at the drugstore photo counter, long before you made any pics. You could either plan on shooting in the Sun, using a so-called “daylight” emulsion, or snapping your photos indoors, with a “T” or “tungsten” film stock.

Seth Shostak  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  0 comments

Imagine a camera you could plunk down in front of the Taj Mahal or anywhere else and snap photos that were indistinguishable from reality. A camera producing images that, when properly displayed, would be pictorially the same as being there.

Seth Shostak  |  Dec 09, 2016  |  0 comments

Depending on your photographic interests, depth of field—the range of distances over which your lens will be sharp—can affect you in either propitious or problematic ways. If you’re trying to isolate one face in a group, a shallow depth of field is just what you need. If you’re hoping to capture the drama of a racehorse beating down the track in your direction, then shallow depth of field can turn much of the equine into a befuddling brown blur, no matter how high your shutter speed.

Seth Shostak  |  Nov 01, 2016  |  0 comments

Mark was a fellow radio astronomer, full of insights. One day in a conversation about photography he said something that caused my eyebrows to lift: “Well, as we all know, color film is never sharp.” But what Mark was getting at was this: As the consequence of a few million years of Darwinian evolution, our eyes have three types of color receptors, casually described as red, green, and blue.

Seth Shostak  |  Oct 10, 2016  |  0 comments

For decades, soft light has been the bee’s knees for portrait photography. It’s flattering, pleasant to look at, and undistracting.

Seth Shostak  |  Sep 09, 2016  |  0 comments

Remember when Paul Simon crooned, “Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away”? That classic film may have given you nice bright colors, but only on sunny days. In its early incarnations, Kodachrome’s film speed—its sensitivity—was 10, or slower than Homer Simpson.

Seth Shostak  |  Aug 09, 2016  |  0 comments

In real-world shoots, both camera and subject are often moving. Six generations of photographers have fought this problem in their quest for images as sharp as a zoot suit. And nowhere is this fact of photographic life more obvious than when you’re trying to freeze the movement of wildlife. Whether you’re bagging African megafauna or trying to capture backyard beetles, stopping the motion is part of the assignment. So how do you do it?

Seth Shostak  |  Jul 01, 2016  |  0 comments

We’ve all seen them: night shots of some wind-weathered rock formation in the American Southwest, backed by a dramatic, star-spangled sky. Earth, the universe, and everything.
Your first thought: “What sort of unaffordable equipment does it take to make a photo like that?” Your second thought: “You know, a 16x20 nighttime pic would sure look good above the pool table.”

Seth Shostak  |  May 31, 2016  |  0 comments

Panoramas are easy to wish for, but, until recently, were not easy to get. To shoot high-quality panos often required special cameras that could rotate their lens while simultaneously advancing an aperture slit across a curved film plane.

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