New take on old idea: gray cards

posted on 1st of june, 2008

I was recently reading a book that had to do with getting color right in the digital age and was surprised to find that gray cards come in different 'colors' of gray. The trusty Kodak gray card I'd had since the early nineties turns out to be neutral in terms of exposure, but was never intended to be used for white balancing a digital exposure.

I did some searching and settled on a new 'digital' gray card and did some experiments. When using the new card to create a custom white balance setting on my camera I found the old card had a definite color cast to it. The photo at left illustrates a photo taken using a (new) neutral gray card.

Digital cameras try to automatically or manually compensate for different 'colors' of light. Sometimes you are photographing something that...

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This article has been read 930 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

Image Stablilization for lenses

posted on 4th of june, 2008

Image stabilization in lenses does really work! Sensors in the lens move a set of elements in the lens to compensate for shaking on the photographer's part. If you look through Canon and Nikon's lens lineup, you'll notice that most IS or VR lenses are telephoto. There are some exceptions, notably Canon's 17-55mm f/2.8 EF-S lens, 18-55mm and Nikon's 18-55, but otherwise the telephoto (> 60mm or so) is the typical recipient of a shake reduction module. Of course, other brands include the sensor in the body so you can use it on all focal lengths.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. Expense. It just costs more to add this to lenses, so getting minimal benefit out of it isn't worth it for wide angle lenses.
2. Stabilization is said to be more effective...

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50 Uploads!

posted on 6th of june, 2008

I passed the 50 upload mark! My acceptance ratio is going up, thanks to the excellent reviews provided by the editors. I'm also getting shots of people flushed out in my portfolio. Some of my favorites:

Comments (5)

Posted by 70sphotography on June 10, 2008
Excellent portfolio, very cute boy, hope more downloads will come to you.
Posted by Bradcalkins on June 07, 2008
Thanks so much!
Posted by Irisangel on June 06, 2008
Good Job and congrats on your first DL. Nice portfolio. Adorable little boy.

Comments (5)

This article has been read 1071 times.

Opportunity knocks but once...

posted on 12th of june, 2008

One of the things I like most about stock photography is that it encourages me to consider any subject that I might not otherwise consider. I had some engine trouble last week, and rather than being worried about the actual problem my first thought was to grab a picture before the engine light turned off!

Comments (5)

Posted by Ilgitano on June 14, 2008
Posted by Ilgitano on June 14, 2008
Posted by Cmarshall717 on June 12, 2008
Love the shot! Again, another simple shot if we just open our eyes to the things right in front of us.

Comments (5)

This article has been read 1102 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

Polarizer tip

posted on 16th of june, 2008

I was reading a digital photo magazine today and it had a good tip on using a polarizer: bracket. I've used bracketing a lot when I'm unsure on exposure but I've never thought of bracketing the actual polarizer rotation itself. I usually rotate the ring and attempt to gauge the best effect, but I tend to settle on a particular amount and take a single shot.

Taking a few shots with different amounts of polarization is a simple idea that may make a world of difference in the final photo.

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This article has been read 1100 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

If at first you don't succeed...

posted on 19th of june, 2008

This has always been a favorite photo of mine, but probably more because I remember the taking of the photo so vividly. It was taken in Guam, which at the time was very humid (I'm not sure when it isn't!). I was working there for a week and had a view of this beautiful sunset from where I was staying. The first time I saw it I rushed out of my air conditioned hotel to take the photo, only to quickly realize my camera was now completely fogged up. It took a long time to clear up, and the sunset was gone.

Fortunately, sunsets like this are common in the tropics. Clouds always seem to form at the right time for a spectacular sunset. I missed it the first night, but was determined to be prepared the next. I placed my camera into a ziplock bag and left it out on the balcony....

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Comments (4)

Posted by Fulviovilla on February 11, 2009
I think that behind a photo there is always a story to tell.
Beautiful picture!

Posted by Eclecticelegance on February 11, 2009
WOW!!! I really liked hearing the story behind it.
Posted by Irisangel on June 19, 2008
Breathtaking!! Good luck with it.

This article has been read 1703 times. 2 readers have found this article useful.

Salmon Arm, British Columbia

posted on 21st of june, 2008

Salmon Arm, British Columbia is a beautiful area of Canada to visit. About halfway between Banff and Vancouver it sits on the edge of Shuswap Lake, an enormous lake that supports dozens of summer activities. The area is nestled in a ring of mountains that provide wonderful photo opportunities all year long.
Luckily I have family there and get to visit frequently at various time of the year. © Bradcalkins (Help)

Comments (4)

Posted by Bradcalkins on June 23, 2008
Glad it brought back some memories! I love going there every chance I can get...
Posted by Sstedman on June 23, 2008
I love your pictures of Salmon Arm. Several years ago, back when I was shooting 35mm, I visited Lake Shuswap for a house boating trip. It is an amazing place.
Posted by Rebeccaosborn on June 21, 2008
gorgeous shots of what looks like a beautiful place!

This article has been read 884 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

posted on 26th of june, 2008

© Bradcalkins (Help) I had the good fortune recently to travel down to Oregon. While I was there I visited the Silver Falls State Park. There are ten waterfalls within a ten mile hike. All of the falls are beautiful, and many are over 100 ft in height. The morning started off cloudy, so with a polarizer in hand the colorful green moss was jumping out at me!

Shown here are the South Falls, Lower South Falls, and the Winter Falls. It is about an hour's drive from Portland. The hike of the 10 falls can be done in under three hours, but if you are taking lots of photos you need to plan for some more time than that.

Today marked another milestone for me as well: 1% portfolio exposure (148 uploads)!

Comments (2)

Posted by Pdxphotoman on January 23, 2011
Brad, I live in Portland and shoot at Silver Falls all the time. It is a very difficult area in which to shoot, as any sunlight falling into the canyon creates deep shadows and heavy highlights, and the forest makes it difficult to get clear shots of some of the waterfalls. These factors are precisely what make it fun for me. Nice work!
Posted by Irisangel on June 26, 2008
Nice shots! Good luck with them.

This article has been read 935 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

Useful Resources

posted on 28th of june, 2008

I thought I would compile a list of things that helped me get more serious about digital photography:

For all things about off-camera flash:

The Original Lighting 101 on Strobist


Kelby Training

Training, Techniques and lots of Q&A:

Better Photo

Landscape / Applied color theory and video critiques:

Radiant Vista

Essays on photography:

Luminous Landscape



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Comments (1)

Posted by Patballard on June 29, 2008
Great list. Thank you.

This article has been read 979 times. 1 readers have found this article useful.

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