A vignette is a picture without defined borders. Typically the photo gradually fades into a white or black background, usually in an oval shape. In the old film days, it was created during printing exposure by projecting the image through an oval hole in a black card. For soft edges, the card is held a few inches above the paper and moved around slightly. In the digital era, this effect can be easily produced using photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, and my favorite, the Nikon Capture NX. Here are the simple steps to do that in Capture NX. Read More…

Posted in Photo Editing on November 28th, 2007. 5 Comments.

By EugeniusD80

I came across a thread on DPReview and was fascinated by those unique images. Soon I discovered thousands of similar images on flickr in a group called “Create your own planets” (There are also several smaller groups on flickr: Stereographic Projections Pool, * making planets *, and Polar Panoramas).

There is a nice tutorial written by Dirk Paessler on how to create this so-called “Polar Panorama Effect” using Adobe Photoshop or Gimp.

If you want to dig into this even more, read about stereographic projection and  cartographical map projections (also these images).

Posted in Digital photography, Photo Editing on November 26th, 2007. No Comments.

Nikon D300 is available now. Some of you are probably actively looking for a good deal even though it is difficult to find a substantial discount on such an eagerly anticipated product. One of my friends told me he found “some great deals” (screen capture) from dealers with thousands of “good” reviews.

However, the dealers with thousands of reviews and five star ratings are well known scam sites. For example,  this one, and this one, which seem to have the “best deals” on the D300. If you do a Google search on this shopping site, you will realize what it is about.

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it  probably is. Avoid them completely and do not take any chances.

Posted in Miscellaneous on November 25th, 2007. No Comments.

I took this photo last year during a hike to the summit of Mount Livemore on Angel Island, San Francisco. It was a great hike but obviously the photo looks dull and unattractive. It was slightly hazy that day and the camera, Nikon D70, didn’t do the magic for me. No problem. Let me show you how to fix photos like this one using Nikon Capture NX in several different ways. Read More…

Posted in Photo Editing, Tutorials on November 22nd, 2007. 4 Comments.

Nikon just made the Capture NX 1.3 (direct download link) available on its US website. This version is an upgrade-only installer, which will upgrade previous installation of Capture NX version 1.00 – 1.20 to version 1.30.

The major changes from previous versions are:

  • Support for RAW NEF images taken with the D3 and D300 has been added.
  • Support for Picture Control has been added.
  • A Picture Control item has been added to Camera Adjustments in the Base Adjustments. The Color Mode, Tone Compensation, Saturation and Sharpening items have been moved to the new Picture Control item.
  • An Active D-Lighting item has been added to RAW adjustments in the Base Adjustments, and Sodium Vapor Lamps and High Temperature Mercury Vapor (7200K) settings have been added.
  • RAW images can now be saved with lossless compression. Images captured in lossless-compressed RAW format can now be saved in lossless-compressed RAW format, regardless of camera model. (Limited to use with images captured with Nikon digital-SLR cameras).
  • The Vignette Control function, which was previously for use only with RAW images, is now supported with JPEG and TIFF images. (Limited to use with images captured by Nikon digital -SLR cameras).
  • The function for modifying images captured with a fisheye lens, available in Lens Adjustments in the Base Adjustments, is now compatible with images captured with the AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D.
  • Features for editing RAW images, previously available in the Camera Settings palette, have been eliminated.

If you have not heard it before, the Image Doctors have a detailed hands-on preview of Nikon Capture NX 1.3 podcast. I also have some Capture NX tutorials on creating LOMO effect, selection brush, high-pass sharpening, and D-lighting.

Posted in Software on November 21st, 2007. No Comments.
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

Nikon announced the introduction of the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, a new DX-NIKKOR zoom lens with built-in Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Vibration Reduction (VR). This is the update to the original non-VR version. This lens is for people just getting started with Nikon digital SLR camera. It may get bundled as a “kit lens” with Nikon digital SLR cameras in the future.

Certainly this is a welcome update to the consumer grade lens. For people not familiar with vibration reduction (VR) or image stabilization (IS) in Canon’s term, the VR function helps to minimizes the chance of getting blurry images caused by camera shake, providing the ability to shoot at shutter speeds much slower (up to three stops, or 8 times, with this lens) than would otherwise be possible. This is especially helpful for handhold shooting in low light situations such as dusk or at night, or poorly lit interiors. It is also helpful when shooting from a vibrating platform such as a moving boat or vehicle. Unlike in-camera VR available in many other DSLRs, in-lens VR like this also produces a stable viewfinder image. This makes framing and composition much more comfortable and accurate. Read More…

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras, Lens on November 20th, 2007. No Comments.

There are so many interesting things happening in the world of photography. I don’t think I can possibly write up each of them as a full-blown blog post. So I have decided to do a links roundup like many others blogs. Here are a few of the photography links I have visited recently.

  • Travel essay with Canon 1Ds Mark III. Apparently the pre-production units of the camera are in hands of a few capable photographers.
  • Dirty Lens Caps Mean Dirty Lenses. The lens cap goes to lots of dusty places, such as your pockets, camera bags, or occasionally onto the ground. Do you clean it often?
  • Do more with your digital photos. What do you do with your photos? Share it on a we site? Email them to relatives and friends? Print it out the traditional way? PhotoWorks Inc has announced new service to allow flickr users to easily create photo gifts – including photo books, cards, calendars and other keepsakes – using their photos already on flickr.
  • The Top10 free Photo/ Image/Graphics software. There are a lot more choices of photo editing raw crunching softwares available for $$$. However the budget-conscious types should be able to find most you need for nothing.
  • Nikon D300 is coming. Unless you have been living in a cave, you probably have heard about the Nikon D300. The camera should start shipping this week. Nikon Capture NX will be included with the sale of D3 and D300 for a limited time.
  • Nokia: Who Needs A Digital Camera? The recently announced Nokia N95 has a 5-megapixel (MP) camera with Carl Zeiss optics. It should be a “very credible alternative for single purpose digital still cameras”.
  • Digital Cameras: Buying Made Simple. Are you buying a new digital camera or upgrading old one? This shopping guide may make it simple for you, hopefully.
Posted in Online Resources on November 18th, 2007. No Comments.

Perhaps you have heard about the well known photographers who have been using the professional Nikon D3. Evidently that is part of the Nikon’s grassroots marketing strategy. Rob Galbraith has a collection of full resolution D3 photos at various ISO settings from 200 to 25600 (insane!) taken by professional photographers and shows you how capable the Nikon D3 is. His overall impression on the high ISO performance comparison between the D3 and Canon 1D Mark III:

… while there are differences in the appearance of image graininess – Canon’s grain pattern is tighter – there’s no doubt that the D3 produces a less noisy, higher quality file at ISO 3200 and beyond. This is an incredible achievement on Nikon’s part.

However, it appears the Canon EOS 1D Mark III still shines, perhaps due to its resolution advantage:

On the other hand, EOS-1D Mark III files at any ISO – especially CR2s processed through Canon’s Digital Photo Professional – are generally slightly crisper and more detailed …

I am happy to see a Canon vs. Nikon duel like this. This is market force at its best. Consumers will benefit.

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras on November 17th, 2007. No Comments.
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