Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrating 20 Years at Leica

Tom Brichta with his S2 at Bodie State Historical Park

This year, Tom Brichta, Leica's Northern California Representative, celebrates his 20th anniversary of  working at Leica Camera.

Tom not only is a great landscape and nature photographer, but a really nice guy, and a bit of a prankster. Read about it in this two part Q&A on the Leica Camera Blog.

Part One

Part Two

Tom was also recently appointed as an instructor for the North American Leica Akademie and this upcoming April he’ll be leading a Leica Destination workshop in Monterey and Big Sur.

You can see Tom’s work on Flickr and on his website, If you’d like to learn more about the Leica Destination workshop that Tom is leading, visit

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Camera Shutter Filmed in Super Slow Motion

Out of the Shadows

A nice book review by Barney Britton ( of the new Vivian Maier book. 

For background of the late street photographer from Chicago, read this previous Camera West Blog post : 

Join Us on the Camera West Flickr Site

Our Camera West Flickr Photo Group is for friends of Camera West to share their photos. We invite you to post pictures taken with equipment or supplies you have bought from either the Walnut Creek or Rancho Mirage stores.

Please tag the pictures with "Camera West" so they can be enjoyed by others.

We look forward to seeing your work!

Shoot and Share, Wirelessly

Canon has introduced 2 new point and shoots with on-board Wi-Fi capability.

The Elph 530 HS and Elph 320 HS both have built-in Wi-Fi  that can connect to your home network, a hotspot, or an app on your iOS or Android device. You'll soon be able to wirelessly transmit photos and videos from the cameras to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other photo sharing sites. 

The Elph 530 HS (pictured above) is a 10-megapixel camera with a CMOS sensor, 12x optical zoom lens, and a 3.2-inch LCD touch screen. It will be available in black and white finishes and is set to hit the streets in April for $349.99. The second Wi-Fi camera, the Elph 320 HS, is a 16-megapixel CMOS shooter with a 5x (24-120mm) zoom lens and a 3.2-inch touch screen LCD. Available in black, silver, red, and blue, you'll be able to buy it in March for $279.99.

Friday, February 17, 2012

3D Light Graffiti

Photographer and expert light painter Trevor Williams blows our minds with his three-dimensional light graffiti. Williams, who is originally from Canada, founded the group Fiz-iks, which is based in Japan.They specialize in light painting photography for the still and animated images.

They chose light painting because of its unique feel that cannot be duplicated with any other method. The basics of light painting involve moving different light sources in front of an open shutter to create different effects. The art combines photography, performance, and use of the local environment.

Nikon D 800 Technical Guide

Nikon USA now has the 20 pages Nikon D800 | D800E Technical Guide available for download. The guide includes samples and covers the basic camera functionality.

Canon's Delayed Super Telephoto Lenses to Ship in May 2012

Canon's long-awaited super telephoto lenses -- the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM and the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM -- will finally start shipping in May 2012, nearly a year after they were originally scheduled to ship - this due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM will cost $10,499 and the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM will sell for $11,999.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life on Both Sides of the Camera

Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Eisenstaedt at Monroe's Beverly Hills home in 1953

The late Alfred Eisenstaedt was one of LIFE magazine's star photographers, best known for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day. However his great photographic vision was not limited just to his subjects. In looking through Eisenstaedt's contact sheets, photo editor Liz Ronk discovered that the long-time LIFE photographer very often crowned his assignments with one last shot: creating captivating self-portraits, posing — and frequently clowning — with his subjects.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eric Kim, Street Photographer

Eric Kim - self portrait from his video

Street photographer Eric Kim created this video showing what it’s like to photograph passers-by on the sidewalks of Beverly Hills, CA for an ongoing project. He attached a GoPro camera to his Leica M6 so that you can see how he works the streets. He has toned down his in-your-face approach I've heard, but as you can see from this video, he shoots what he wants without fear or reservations.

Interview with Kim on the Leica Blog :

More New Features in Upcoming Photoshop

For a look at Adobe's upcoming new camera raw features, go to this earlier blog post :

And a post on speedy background saving and the liquify tool in the new Photoshop :

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Light Paint a Valentine

Check out this quick tutorial from to create a unique Valentine's Day photo while learning a few photography techniques.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good News from Nikon

An interesting article from, a Malaysian National News Agency about the production capacity of the Nikon plant in Sendai, Japan.

"With the current 1,600 workers, the factory is producing one unit of camera per minute on a daytime shift with each unit of the D800 variant produced every four hours and the D4 variant every five hours."

Nikon is targeting to produce 30,000 D800 and 5,000 D4 cameras per month at it's Sendai, Japan factory, the same one that was destroyed in last year's 9.0 earthquake. They spent $100 million to repair the facility.

Make Things Happen For You

'Leaning Photographer of Pisa' by Jay Maisel

Just saw this great quote from photographer Jay Maisel that I had to share :

"If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you're not out there, you'll only hear about it." 

World Press Photo of the Year 2011

Samuel Aranda from Spain has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2011 for the above image of a woman holding a wounded relative in her arms. The photo was taken inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011.

Jurors said the photo captured multiple facets of the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the Middle East last year. It was taken at a field hospital inside a mosque in Sanaa on October 15.

The winning photo was selected from 101,254 images submitted by 5,247 photographers from 124 countries.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Sports Illustrated Covered the Super Bowl

Check out this SI video on how the premiere sports magazine covered the recent Superbowl. From planning shooting positions to deciding what picture makes the cover.

And here is my take on covering the Super Bowl, published on this blog the evening before the big game.

First Look at the Canon EOS C300

Roddy Blelloch shows Dan Leto some of the C300 functions.

Our friend Roddy Blelloch stopped by Camera West in Walnut Creek to show us his new camera - the Canon EOS C300 super 35mm video camera. This camera was just announced a few months ago and Roddy is one of the lucky few to have one in his hands. 

He'll be putting it to good use as he's been hired by the SF Symphony and the America's Cup to do some filming with it.

Roddy is a freelance photographer, cinematographer, and director of photography, based in the San Francisco bay area. Check out his website here.

Roddy tries out a 400mm 2.8 on his C300 in front of a Horseman 4X5

Olympus Brings Back the OM Series Camera

Evoking the classic design of the original OM Series introduced 40 years ago, and transforming it for the modern age, the Olympus OM-D Series is a new and entirely unique Micro Four Thirds camera system. It combines features found in the Olympus E-System DSLR line with those of the compact Olympus PEN Series to meet the requirements of discerning photographers who demand more performance and portability from their interchangeable-lens cameras.

  • 15.93 million image pixel sensor
  • built-in 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder
  • articulating lcd
  • improved image stabilization system
  • ability to shoot at 9fps
  • full HD movie recording

The camera will be available in black or black/silver versions and will carry an expected street price of $999.99 for the body only, $1099.99 for a kit including a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, or $1299.99 for a kit including a weather-sealed ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens.

Kodak Ceases Camera Production, Keeps Film Alive

Kodak announced today that it will cease producing digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames “to focus its Consumer Business on desktop inkjet, online and retail-based printing—areas that offer the most significant opportunities for profitable growth. Kodak will continue to offer camera accessories and batteries, which are universally compatible with other brands,” a statement on their website said.

The statement also said that it was “likely” that some of the cameras, video cameras and digital frames it announced at CES would not be launched.

Eastman Kodak Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 19, 2012. In its filing, the company reported that it has $6.8 billion in debt and $5.1 billion in assets.

Kodak has struggled for years as the photography business has moved to digital photography.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Trio of New Canon Lenses

Canon U.S.A. today announced two new wide angle lenses and a updated version of its popular 24-70mm zoom lens. The new EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II, EF 24mm f/2.8 and EF 28mm f/2.8 lenses use a rear focusing system, high-speed CPU, and a ring-type Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) with optimized AF algorithms for faster auto focusing. The 28mm and 24mm primes offer IS however the 24-70mm does not.

Long Awaited Nikon D800 and D800E Now Official

Nikon has announced the long-awaited D800 36MP full-frame DSLR, now the highest-resolution camera in Nikon's lineup. As well as the 'stock' D800, Nikon has also revealed a more expensive model, the D800E that will be free from the effects of an anti-aliasing filter. Aimed at studio and landscape professionals the D800E could possibly begin to rival medium format digital equipment in terms of resolution.

Specs :

  • Magnesium alloy body
  • 36.15 megapixels
  • full frame CMOS
  • Expeed 3 processor
  • ISO Range - 100-6400
  • Fixed 3.2 " LCD
  • 5 frames per second drive
  • Records to both CF and SDHC cards
  • Video frame rates :1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps)
  • Weather sealed
  • Timelapse Mode
  • Optional GPS
The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95. The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shooting the Super Bowl

Photo by Michael Maloney/SF Chronicle

On this eve of the Super Bowl, I thought I'd describe what it's like to cover one of the greatest sporting events in the world.

I've had the good fortune of photographing 5 Super Bowls during my career at the San Francisco Chronicle. The SF 49ers had a great run in the late 80's and early 90's and in fact won each of their Super Bowls thanks to such great athletes as Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and many others. They even won back to back championships in 1989 and 1990.

Of all the sports I've covered, football by far was my very favorite sport to cover. I loved the challenge and excitement each game offered. As a photographer on the sidelines, I was very much like a defensive lineman, corner back or safety, trying to predict what the play was going to be and where it was going to take place so that I could position myself in the right place with the right lens to capture the play. It helped to really know the game, the team and the individual players. I loved shooting football, especially a game of this magnitude.

When you watch the game tomorrow and see all the photographers on the sidelines, you are seeing the very best sports shooters in the country. All seasoned veterans who have earned the right to be covering the big game. Sports Illustrated, All Sport, NFL Magazine, Associated Press, Getty Images, USA Today, NY Times, Washington Post and other news organizations send their best sports shooters. On a personal level for me, it was fun to compete against all of them. To measure my work against theirs.

Game day starts early for the shooters and editors. Most arrive 6-8 hours prior to kick off. Not only are they covering the game, but all the hoopla before and after, in town, outside the stadium and inside. Most publications send a shooter or two to the Super Bowl host city for all the activities during the week leading up to game day. At the Chronicle, for the game day coverage, we usually sent 4 shooters plus an editor. Unlike most games, each shooter is assigned a position by the NFL and would have to shoot the entire game from that one position. Because of this, we made sure we had the lenses to be able to cover our section of the field. Usually a 400mm f2.8, along with a 300mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a wide angle. My favorite position was in the end zone, 1/3 the way in from the sidelines. We needed fast lenses because by the 2nd half, we were shooting at night, relying on the stadium lights.

The NFL restricts the number of publications that can cover the game to minimize the number of shooters on the sidelines. The larger newspapers representing the two teams, the host city's major newspapers and the publications and wire services mentioned above are the only photogs you will find on the field and even then, it can be crowded. Each shooter has a numbered or color coded vest to wear keeping them in their assigned shooting positions. Some are allowed to roam. Assistants are sometimes allowed however they have to stay a few yards behind the shooters. Publications also have runners who periodically come by to pick up memory cards from the shooters - usually after a big play, a touchdown and end of quarter.

Speed is all important in this digital information age. Some of the wire services now have a direct link from shooter to editor so that just minutes after a big play, that image is on the web and available to publications throughout the world. Back in the film days, it took at least half an hour or so to get the image out. (Each NFL stadium had a full darkroom for use by the wire services) At the Chronicle, we had an onsite editor who would watch the game on closed circuit tv and would look at all of our images as they came in by a runner, pick the best ones, caption them and send them to the paper and to the online galleries. That allowed us shooters to concentrate on our shooting. At the end of the game however we were all in the media tent helping to edit our shots on our laptop computers and get them transmitted to make our deadlines. You had to be good not only as a shooter, but as an editor so that you could quickly get your photos captioned and sent. I thrived in this hectic environment and was proud to have an efficient workflow to get out as many images as I could in as little time as possible.

I've had people ask me after shooting a game if I enjoy watching it, but what they don't realize is that I'm not really watching the game as a fan would. Rather, I'm looking for story telling images and trying to capture them. It's an entirely different way of seeing the game. I enjoy the process, but it's not the same as watching the game as a spectator.

Tomorrow, I'll do just that. I'll be a fan and enjoy the game with my favorite beverage wishing the 49ers were playing and wishing I was shooting my 6th Super Bowl.

Photo above was during the closing minutes of Super Bowl XXIX - on January 29, 1995 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida. 49ers quarterback Steve Young threw a record 6 touchdown passes en route to a Super Bowl MVP award. His main target…Jerry Rice.

SF at Night Photo Contest Winners

Photo by John Krzesinski

Congratulations to John Krzesinski whose image above titled 'Upon a Sea of Gold' won 1st place and a $25. gift certificate from Camera West.

It was a fine job of seeing not only the obvious - in this case the Golden Gate Bridge which we were all photographing - but the details. We love how John was able to see this bird below the bridge and make a strong graphic image with the bird and the stumps silhouetted in the golden glow of the iconic bridge.

Dan, Hal, Robert, Tina and Michael of the Camera West Walnut Creek staff judged a great collection of photos from the night photography workshop we held in San Francisco a few weeks ago. We asked the participants to submit their 5 favorite photos from the evening for this contest. To see all the photos submitted, go to the Camera West Flickr site. Meanwhile, check out the honorable mentions below.

Photo by Gary Wincott

Photo by Stevan Cavalier

Photo by John Krzesinski

Photo by Ming Maa

Photo by John Krzesinski

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ansel Adams 'City of Angels' Photos

Around 1939, Ansel Adams was commissioned by Fortune magazine to photograph a series of images for an article covering the aviation history of the Los Angeles area. For the project, Adams took over 200 photographs showing everyday life, businesses, street scenes, and a variety of other subjects, but when the article, "City of Angels," appeared in the March 1941 issue, only a few of the images were included.

Approximately 20 years later, Adams rediscovered all of the photographs among papers at his home in Carmel, and sent a letter of inquiry to the Los Angeles Public Library, asking if the institution would be interested in receiving the collection as a donation. In his letter, Adams expressed that, "the weather was bad over a rather long period and none of the pictures were very good" and "if they have no value whatsoever, please dispose of them in the incenerator [sic]." He went on to write that "I would imagine that they represent about $100.00 minimum value." In response, the Los Angeles Public Library gladly accepted the gift of 135 contact prints and 217 negatives, and the staff concluded that a fair value for the collection would be $150.00.

Photo librarian Christina Rice has posted more than 200 of the images on the LAPL website. An LA gallery is creating new silver-gelatin prints from the original negatives, which will be on sale to benefit the library.

Below are some of Adams' images of life at the Olympic Trailer Court in Santa Monica.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Adobe Photoshop CS6 – Another Sneak Peek

This short video shows how CS6 (if that's what Adobe will be calling it) handles the ever increasing large files today's digital cameras produce. They've come up with background saving of large files and a major speed increase using the liquify tool.

Elephant Seal Workshop a Success

Our friend Jason Bradley reports that his elephant seal photography workshop near San Simeon last month was a success with great weather, beautiful sunsets and good company. Check out some of the photos below and go to this link for many more. Jason will be leading another workshop in January of 2013 so if you want to join in on the fun, contact him.