All posts by Rob Martin

I especially enjoy taking HDR photography, Event photography and technology related stuff!

Getting a better group picture

Last week I was in a quick photowalk in Wicker Park with my buddy Sam.
Right away we ran into a cool group from a neighborhood Church called Epic Church and they were out on various corners giving out hugs for everyone.
I took a few shots as I got closer to them and they greeted us warmly and with hugs. We spoke briefly and I asked them if I could take a group pic and they all lined up and I snapped a picture.D6N_1906
But I wanted to think of something extra so right away it occurred to me to have them reach out as if giving me a hug and I got the below picture which is way better and expressive compared to my first shot.
D6N_1913-Edit
On this one I cropped in a bit and edited out the red flowers that were showing on the left side a so as to not distract too much of the main focus which is the group.
So don’t be afraid to get a better picture by in addition to getting a standard shot, trying for something else/different.  Look around and think of ways to add a little bit more to help your subject and you as a photographer stand out more!

Before and After black and white


Fellow photog David, asked me how I arrived at this image in black and white so I put together this brief explanation.
My 5 bracketed exposures are sent from Lightroom 4 to Photomatix Pro then after viewing the tonemapped result the overall colors were too blah but I did like the composition.
I previewed it in black and white while in Lightroom and it looked very interesting so I ran it through Nik Silver Effex 2 which really pops a lot of the details.
And then back in Lightroom I did some additional tweaks such as crop, vignette and sharpen and other adjustment brushes.
KMGP6145

Thanks for reading and if any questions or comments chime in below.

Fun with Fish Eye lens

Just got the Rokinon FE8M-P 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens this month and am pretty excited about it, I shot a few images with it so far and overall very pleased with the results.


I am looking forward to going out with it to do some night time and also interior HDR scenes.
There are a few negatives that I found with this lens -
Chromatic Aberration, which I tame in Lightroom2 and Photoshop CS5, also when processing in Photomatix Pro I check the reduce Chromatic Aberrations box.
Close focus a bit fuzzy, I noticed when I have a subject in the scene too close about 2 or less feet it seems a bit fuzzy (even at f11) compared to the rest of the scene, but I think I have to fiddle with the focus more.
Manual focus, although with this kind of lens you can just set it in between and just shoot although as mentioned prior I think I need to tweak and test the focus setting a bit more.
And the plusses-
Fun lens!!!
The price is not too bad – less than $300 dollars.
Dramatic views.  This can really turn an ordinary scene into a really cool scene.
Fun lens!!! ah ok I said that already lol. But my impression overall is that it is indeed a fun lens.
Below are a few sample images that I shot so far. All were post processed in LR2 and also in addition some with Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex Pro as well.

Waiting for some food at Cemitas. The salt and sugar shakers not as sharp as the rest of the picture. Processed in LR2 and Nik Color Efex Pro.
Kumas restaurant. There was some banding from the sky (I noticed this on other shots with the sky in it, maybe due to such a wide angle) and chromatic abberation along the edges of building and power lines.
Having fun with the wide angle.
Lens super close up to the mesh on this shop window.
Crowd shot at the Cloud Gate Luminous display.
5 Exposure test HDR shot.

In closing although I just barely begun using this lens I am really excited about it.  This lens will be a regular addition in my camera bag.

SocialDevCamp Pics #SDCChi


Just wanted to share a few highlights, mentions and some links to pictures from this cool event conference.

It was great working alongside photographer  Tom Tran. Cool guy and I got a lot of good tips and ideas.

David Spark, Mike Ewing and David Kadavy

A highlight of the event for me was meeting David Spark who was in a podcast that I enjoyed called Cranky Geeks with John C. Dvorak.

It was a fun time photographing the event and meeting new people and seeing friends.
Thanks to Nicole Yeary for letting me know about this and to Mike Ewing and Tim Courtney for giving me the opportunity to photograph the event.

More Pictures of the event
SocialDevCamp Chicago’s Flicker Page Mostly me and Tom’s pics
My Smug Mug page
Tom Tran’s “Tran Scape Photography”

WordCamp Chicago 2011 Pictures


After having been in DePaul University a few days ago (see prior post) I found myself there again this time attending WordCamp Chicago 2011. It was great learning about various topics on blogging with wordpress.org that I plan to use when I move from wordpress.com for this photography blog. WordPress.org is way more customizable versus wordpress.com which is free but way limited in a lot of ways, although it’s still pretty cool anyways. Learn more here.
I was also looking forward to seeing fellow photog / photowalk member Nicole Yeary guest speak and to finally meet her. Also met other great people and some that I have only known on twitter and facebook.
Of course I couldn’t help but to take my camera and took a few pictures while there….

@NicoleYeary
@KurtScholle
@TheCubicleChick
@MaribethR @NicoleYeary
@NicoleYeary @PicsByRobert
At the Genius Bar
@blondishnet @AskKim
@bikespoke @squishyviolet @HeatherActon78

Guest Speaking about Photography

I was invited to guest speak at DePaul University from fellow photowalker and teacher Sharon, she is teaching a wonderful program for High School youth at the university.
I was really touched and honored to have been asked, and I also immediately thought of someone that could guest speak who is very generous in giving and helping fellow photographers including youth and that would be … Gokhan Cukurova. So he joined me as well! I spoke about HDR and Photowalking and answered questions and Gokhan spoke about a lot of aspects of photography including what its like as a professional wedding photographer, I learned a lot too listening to him and his answers to questions.
About the Summer Youth Scholar program-
As Sharon told us, the students have been selected by DePaul from high schools across the city to provide them with information about college and provide them an opportunity to experience a university campus. The students attend academic classes and then college prep classes. Her class is on urban history through visual arts, culture and architecture.  They have been taught how to do a photo essay and are expected to put one together as their final project. They can decide how they want to tell the story they select. Vivitar supplied point and shoot cameras. They have also been given audio recorders to interview urban dwellers.

Gokhan at the podium

In closing, this was a really amazing experience to talk and share about photography and to see the students cool work and each of their unique photos on subjects such as people and architecture.
My thanks to Sharon, Gokhan and most of all to our future creative people who welcomed us with a cheerful smile and great enthusiasm. I hope to see more of their work in the future.

Cleaning tools for your Camera

Here is my list of products that I use for cleaning my camera and lenses with a brief description of its use to give you some idea. Click on the product name for link to site for purchase, also read the reviews on those sites for tips and more insights from other users.

Giottos Rocket Air Blower
I always have this handy and use it the most, this blower packs a quite a strong blast of air and I use it on every nook and cranny of my DSLR, lenses and other gear.  I even use it on my keyboard and computers… as I consider these part of my gear too.

LensPen
I use the brush end of the LensPen the most and their carbon compound tip for the lens glass surface although I mainly use the Pec Pads the most on the lens glass.

Pec Pads and Eclipse Optical Cleaning Fluid
The lint free Pec Pads coupled with the Eclipse Optical cleaning fluid are just awesome for cleaning your lenses and other parts of the camera such as the metal lens ring on the camera body and lens and other glass such as the viewfinder and filters.

Opteka Pre-Moistened CCD/CMOS Sensor Cleaning Swabs
  I use the Opteka sensor cleaning swabs when I start seeing dust spots on my images. From their product description these sensor swabs are pre-moistened with a Tin Oxide cleaning solution, which leaves no visible residue and is specifically designed for CCD/CMOS chips.
Now I know that cleaning the sensor is a “sensitive” subject for some, and a lot of people would prefer to have this done through a service performed at your local camera shop. That is totally understandable if you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself. Read on to get an idea of how its done at home.
The swabs each come double sealed, be sure you are ready to use swab right away when you open package (so it does not dry out too much before use). I first blow out and brush off the sensor area then per instructions on package – with firm pressure, wipe horizontally across sensor in one motion and without lifting the swab off the sensor wipe across in the opposite direction. Allow up to 5 minutes before turning on camera. Done!

Conclusion.
It was great sharing this with everyone and I hope you found some of these products useful to you. What products do you use? Questions? Feel free to comment below!

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