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Thursday, December 16, 2010
Textures can be fun to use no matter what image you may be using it with. It turns something ordinary into something unique. The best part about it is that you can create your own textures very easily and in this tutorial I will show you how to create and use them (this tutorial was done in Photoshop Elements).
To create a texture all you have to do is take a photograph of something you would like to use, whether it be a brick wall, gravel, concrete, grass, wood, etc. There are many possibilities so be creative and try different things. I would recommend using a small aperture to assure the whole image in in focus. For this tutorial I took three images I wanted to make into textures, they were all done from my front porch.
Texture #1 is an image of the welcome mat:
Texture 1 - Welcome Mat
Texture #2 is the wood on the front porch:
Texture 2 - Front Porch
Texture #3 is a door:
Texture 3 - Door
As you can see, that was a very simple process. Here is the image I decided to use for this:
and here are the results with each texture:
Results - Texture 1 - Welcome Mat
Results - Texture 2 - Wood
Results - Texture 3 - Door
Now that you know how to create textures and see can see what they do I will show you how to apply them in Photoshop. I have Photoshop Elements 6 but this should not vary much from CS.
Open your desired image.
Now open the texture and drag it onto the previously opened image (hold shift to align image while dragging).
Be sure you have the texture layer selected and change the “blending mode” to “overlay.”
Set Blend Mode to Overlay
Once you have set the blend mode to overlay, adjust the opacity accordingly.
Now flatten the image.
And you’re done!
We have all wished we could get a flash in a tight spot or an awkward position. This tutorial will show you how to turn an old house lamp into a very versatile flash stand.
The first thing is to find a lamp that you are not using anymore that has a clamp on it so you can attach it anywhere you like when you need to get into those tight spots. The lamp I chose has a strong clamp and can bend in any direction (which is a plus).
Next you need to disassemble the lamp except for the clamp and the post, those need to stay together (of course!). Be sure to keep the nut that held the lamp shade to the post because you will need that again.
You then want to drill a hole in your flash stand you got with your flash, if you got one. Make sure when you drill the hole to do it to the side so it will not interfere with mounting the flash and/or be able to mount to a tripod if you ever need to. Also be sure not to drill the hole too big.
Here is what mine looked like when I was done:
Now all you have to do it mount the flash stand you just drilled the hole in using the nut you saved from earlier. Before you put your flash on make sure you tighten the nut with a wrench so your flash doesn’t fall off! Do not over tighten, it WILL break. Here’s a photo:
Just mount your flash and your ready to go!
Here are some photos of the finished project.
Honestly not much to review on this but without a doubt every photographer should have a rocket blower to remove all those dust specks found on the sensor of your dSLR. I personally use it for a lot of things that I cannot normally get to any other way such as the dirt that gathers around buttons, viewfinder, lenses, etc.
I went with the large version, not expecting it to be so large! Since it is larger than I expected it is not a mainstay in my bag because it won’t fit. Every time before a shoot I give my sensors a few good blows and most of the dust is gone (this thing moves a lot of air!), there are always a few strays that are easily taken care of in PP.
If you don’t already have a Giottos Rocket Blower, I would recommend picking one up, it will save you time in post processing and it’s a great tool for any photographer.
Here is a size comparison of it next to the Sigma 10-20mm…
A tripod is one of the most important tools for a photographer that usually gets overlooked. Whether you shoot macro, landscapes or anything in between, a tripod is a great investment that will only need to buy once if a quality set of legs are purchased. I will not get into details about tripods in general since this is a review, so here we go:
17.6 lbs (8kg)
Head Attachment Fitting
Dual 3/8” & 1/4”-20
Maximum Height w/o Column Extended
5.4 lbs (2.5kg)
Leg Lock Type
Independent Leg Spread
Center Column Type
Center Column Sections
I had finally realized recently I needed a more sturdy tripod because I was at the beach shooting a sunset and the wind was blowing my cheap Wal-Mart tripod all over the place. After many hours of researching I came across the Benro A-298n6 that had all the features I was looking for and could not be beat for just over $100! I wanted a tripod that would support more that I needed, will I ever need to put 17lbs worth of gear on it? Probably not but the option is there if it comes down to it.
- Reasonably priced
- Well built
- Adjustable for ANY shooting needs
- and well balanced for defending against muggers!
Weight but I went ahead with the purchase knowing that so I guess it doesn’t really matter to me; and as I stated as a pro, a mugger will think twice about it after being hit with a 5.4lb “bat”! (not including ballhead)
So am I happy with my purchase? Without a doubt, YES and I would recommend this tripod to anyone that does not mind the weight.
I did just notice this specific model has been discontinued but more than likely there is an upgraded version about to be announced to replace it (check out more Benro tripods here).
I have been given the opportunity to review a new product on the market, the Cotton Carrier camera system. I had stumbled upon a link to the Cotton Carrier just over a month ago and knew this product was going to be a big hit with the photography community. Why no one has came up with a product like this in the past I will never know but now that it is here, myself and a lot of other photographers could not be happier. The customer service I have received from Mr. Grant Vetters was a huge plus; replied to my e-mails promptly and I can tell customer satisfaction is high on their list. On to the review…
Upon receiving the Cotton Carrier, there were a few things that really caught my eye. First off is that it came in a decent size black mesh back with the “Cotton” name embroidered on the tag. I have found this bag to be useful when out on a shoot for carrying my flashes, wireless triggers and a few other odds and ends. Next were the instructions, obviously from watching the videos on the Cotton Carrier site you can see how it works but the instructions are easy to read and have plenty of clearly visible color images. Most companies lack in this department, hopefully in the coming months and years as this product and company grows more and more they will not stray away from small things like this that (to me) make a big impact.
The two camera inserts that come with it are highly durable and are metal, not plastic. They are also stamped/engraved with the “Cotton” name. There is a rubber backing on them as to not scratch the bottom of your camera, it also helps to keep a snug fit once they are tightened down. As per the instructions I used a quarter to tighten them, you can use a non corrosive thread lock for that extra added protection from it backing out but I have yet to do it. Please be sure to really make it tight though, snugging it down will not suffice because rotating the camera to remove and put back in the chest and hip holsters can cause the inserts to rotate. So yeah, make them tight.
Next was to inspect the harness and the holster, again I was surprised with the quality. This thing is built to last and you can easily see that once you get your hands on one. The straps are easily adjustable and once you get them adjusted properly and are wearing it you can hardly tell it is there. I cannot tell you that it won’t make your back sweat in the heat because it’s already starting to turn into Winter here in NC. Andy Cotton did take that into consideration and made the back mesh so I have no doubt it will help on long hot days. The receptacles on the harness/vest and holsters are made of Lexan, again another thing I was worried about until putting them to the test.
I had a week to test this system out in many different ways. From the basic walking around town with only the holster to strobist model shoots. With many hours having two bodies, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS on the vest and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L it was definitely more comfortable than using straps. To be honest when in the moment of a shoot you sometimes forget they are even there. Being a strobist style shooter I usually carry 2 bodies with lenses attached, light stands with flashes, umbrellas and a softbox so moving all this around with cameras on straps can really become a task. Using the Cotton Carrier has really made things a lot easier when moving all the equipment from one place to another since I don’t have to worry about swinging cameras or them sliding off my shoulders. I wish I had one of these about 6 months ago on our family vacation to Disney! We have twin 18-month-olds that have to stay moving to be happy, so carrying a dSLR around was more of a burden. Sadly to say the dSLR stayed in the room 99% of the time unless I went out by myself. I can assure you that will not happen again!
I meet up with another photographer (Jamie Hansen) yesterday at a model shoot he was doing. I wanted him to give the Cotton Carrier a try and of course he didn’t object. He had seen videos about it and was as curious as I was. While he was doing his thing I made sure to step back and get some shots of it in action…
At the end of the shoot Mr. Hansen didn’t want to give it back. In that short amount of time he was able to tell that this is a product that will make his job easier and told me that he will be ordering one as soon as possible. Thanks Jamie for being my subject for this review. Here’s a quote I got from Jamie about his time with the Cotton Carrier.
In my time as a photographer, I have tried several ways to carry my gear. I’ve tried hip packs, back packs, rolling suit cases, pelican cases, and even other harness systems. However nothing has felt so weightless like the “Cotton Carrier”. I had my Nikon D60 with my 70-200mm f/2.8 on the center post, and my D90, with a SB600 and a 35mm on the right side of the harness. I almost forgot that they were there. There was zero neck pressure, no swing issues, I could even kneel and not have my lens touch the ground. I know with this harness I could move a lot quicker in a wedding environment, and always be ready to snap away.
I hope this review has helped and thanks for taking the time to read it. It may sound like I am a fan boy of the Cotton Carrier system and I can say that I am not the fan boy type. When seeing the product and videos I was skeptical, others may still be. Now that I’ve gotten my hands on it and was able to put it to the test I can honestly say that it has exceeded my expectations as I am sure it will do to you also. Thank you Mr. Cotton and everyone involved in the development and production of this great tool for any level of photographer!