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Archive for May, 2008

Much like doctors are supposed to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath, photographers should follow a similar creed when post-processing their digital images. Shooting in raw format gives us the equivalent of a digital negative and we should strive to keep the original on an untampered-with layer whenever post-processing. What I do is make use of adjustment layers in Photoshop then save the resulting layer stack as a .PSD file to ensure I’m not compressing or digitally mussing the hair of my original image. Actually this approach provides for the most flexibility during every step of post processing. Sure, the resulting image can be very large — but it’s worth the extra space. Give it a try and keep every change on a separate layer while working from a copy of the original to make sure you can revert to your original, just in case. 

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God, this sounds like a topic for a sex column…it isn’t. I recently completed a photo trek through West Virginia and used my new Kirk ball head (mentioned earlier here). I’ve gotta say it was the best experience I’ve ever had with three legs (hmmm, maybe this is a sex column…). Anyway, setting up the ‘pod whenever I found a shot was truly effortless. The ball head adjusted quickly and small adjustments could be made with a degree of precision I’ve never experienced before. Who’da thunk it? I’m an old photojournalist not used to using a tripod for my daily assignments. Not any more. The tripod just became an integral piece of gear for all my shoots. 

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A couple weeks ago I sprung for the new multiplayer map pack for Call of Duty 4. Having kinda/sorta mastered the maps that shipped with the game, I was ready to play die on some new real estate. Now that I’ve played them many times, I’m ready to give you my take on the ones I’ve played most. The map pack, if you haven’t heard, consists of Creek, Broadcast, Chinatown and Killhouse maps. The first three are the ones you’ll see most in the public Xboxlive multiplayer arenas. Killhouse is more for room-to-room action for training and private parties.

That said, here’s my take on the three maps I’ve played most:

Chinatown

Chinatown grab

I love the atmosphere here. The lighting and details of this map definitely puts you in C-town. I could almost smell the ramen noodles! The many rooms, nooks and crannies made it a tough arena for me. It’s definitely for the run-and-gun player. I have yet to find a truly great place to snipe from here. I’ve read where it’s very similar (if not a re-skinned version) of the COD2 Carentan map. Since I’ve never played COD2, I can’t say. It’s a claustrophobic experience running from room to room scampering across second-floor awnings to ducking into basements and kitchens below street level. I die here… a lot. 

Creek:

Creek grab

This map’s sniper heaven. It’s got high ground on both sides of the map and a ravine running up the middle. Many good sniping areas can be found. There’s also a cave where you can release the inner mole as well as houses with accessible roofs on which to scamper. I’ve had some success here as a sniper and love planting claymores in the cave entrances. 

Broadcast: 

Broadcast grab

The Broadcast is set in, you guessed it, a television broadcast facility in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The action on this map is spread out over a wide area. There’s plenty of sniping spots as well as lotsa rooms for close-in action. Grenades seem popular here. Listen for the tinkle. I like sniping and grenading here. 

The price of all this goodness? A measly 800 credits. Money well spent. You should buy this. Go. 

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In an effort to post more frequently, I’ll share this tip with you. If you use Canon gear, buy and use Sandisk cards. I use a Sandisk Extreme IIIs in my Mark II and 20D. Lexar cards, while they’ll work, are optimized for Nikon gear. You’re still shooting in RAW format, right? GOOD. Go and sin no more. 

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A New Name

I decided to change the name of this blog. Eclectricity seemed a bit, well, undescriptive about what’s going on here. Click. Ahhhh, this is much better!

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The ability to use light and shadow effectively separates the pro from the amateur photographer. While some say this is something you’re born with, I disagree. The skilled use of lighting is something that can be learned.

In the decades since I first picked up a camera, I’m constantly picking up new ideas for making my photos better. One place I find myself going to for a visual kickstart is strobist.com. This is a website devoted almost exclusively to the creative use of small, hand-held electronic flashes. Compiled by David Hobby, it’s a great place for ideas and inspiration. If you’re new to photography or are a pro in need of some new lighting techniques, you can’t go wrong by stopping at David’s site. His Lighting 101 tutorials are fantastic!

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I bought a new ball head for my tripod and it’s hands-down the smoothest operating, most solid camera support I’ve ever used. It’s the Kirk Enterprises BH-3 ball head and though it wasn’t cheap, I’m glad I spent the bucks for it.

BH-3 ball head

According to Kirk Enterprises: “it’s made of 6061-T aircraft aluminum including the solid, captive-design knobs, and the internal metal parts are stainless steel and brass. The ballcup is a self-lubricating Delrin composite, and the tripod socket accepts 3/8-inch thread. This could be the last compact ball head you ever need to buy!”

I used it atop a Gitzo monopod for a weekend of shooting the LPGA and I’ve gotta admit it’s solid, lightweight and a joy to use. Next on my shopping list, some quality legs to go under it! Ta-ta for now….

 

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