20 September

Hey, Our Free eBook on Our ‘Friends Only’ Trip to Iceland!

As many of you who follow the blog know, this past June, 2012 Darwin and I traveled with a group of close friends to the northern clime of Iceland. With 14 photographers crammed into one bus (well, technically two buses were involved since one went kaput in the middle of the road during the trip) and incredible scenery flashing by, there was sure to be great images of the trip at the end! We wanted to showcase the stories, the place and each photographer’s unique view of this amazingly photographic country. A portfolio of images taken on the trip seemed just the ticket. The resulting eBook is more of a travelogue and record of our trip rather than a guide to Iceland. If you wish to visit yourself, Tim Vollmer was our photo guide — check out his dramatic images on his website. So, here’s the eBook just click on the photo below to download! Thank you to all of our friends who came on the trip, and thanks to those who ventured their images bravely forth for publication. And a huge hug to Stephen who put this book together (on the eve of his nuptials, no less!) pro bono for oopoomoo fans. To see even more images from our group please visit the Iceland Flickr Group. And stay tuned for more Iceland over the next few months as we wade through the photos and videos from this amazing tour!

Free eBook from oopoomoo!

11 August

Why We Don’t Discount Our eBooks (and Some eBooks We Think you Should Buy!)

THE marketing strategy for selling eBooks online is the time-limited discount code. Almost every photographer or website out there that sells eBooks offers some sort of discount at some time or another. We did that back when we sold our first eBooks on Visual Wilderness and on my old blog. And it works! How many of you have purchased an eBook or set of eBooks because the offer was so attractive you simply could not pass up the deal? We have! And how many of you have actually read, used or even remember the eBooks you purchased this way? We have a library of eBooks that have never seen the light of our computer screens past the initial glance-over on purchase.

On the other hand, how many times has there been an eBook that you actually wanted but that you didn’t buy right away because you were waiting for a discount code or special to show up so you could get it cheaper? Finally, you give up only to find it selling somewhere else two days later at 50% off! We hate that too!

When we started oopoomoo, we decided not to discount our eBooks. We feel that they are already a pretty darn good deal for the quality of the images, instruction and Stephen’s design skills contained in them. We also think it kind of sucks if our friends buy one of our eBooks and then find them discounted either at a later point in time or at another site. Finally, junk is junk: even if an eBook is free, if it ain’t worth the consumer’s time to buy, download and read it, you as an author just wasted that person’s time. While nothing in business is ever set in stone (if you want to stay alive), we’re pretty happy with this one. We want you to buy our books because you want to read them and learn not because they were ‘a steal’.

Finally, we don’t offer oopoomoo eBooks on affiliate programs where others post or review our eBook on their site and then get a cut off the sales. If you see a review of one of our eBooks elsewhere you can rest assured the reviewer did not get a kickback. And same goes here: when we review an eBook we’ll give you our honest opinions and, if you buy an eBook based on a link in our review, the author gets 100% of the sale (as it should be).

Good photography eBooks are rare. Ones that are well written, have great instruction, wonderful photos and are inspiring are even more rare. So, in the spirit of this post, here are four stand-outs we have seen over the last few years that you might want to consider buying and reading:

Guy Tal’s Creative Landscape Photography

Guy Tal is one of the best writers in photography today. Period. But beyond his thoughtful writing, he is one bloody talented photographer and a hell of an instructor. If you only can afford one eBook, buy the one above! Or better yet go to Guy’s eBook page and buy any of the titles that interest you. Bang for your buck, these books are it — discounts or not. (Full disclosure: ok, ok, we’ve met Guy and we like the man. He may try to deny it, but we think he’s our friend! He doesn’t know we’re writing this so boy would he be surprised if he woke up tomorrow with a spike in sales — woot! Do yourself a favour and check out his eBooks, though — they really are the best on the market).

Mitchell Kanashkevich’s  Rabari – Encounters With the Nomadic Tribe

When we first glanced through this eBook we thought, “hey this is just a rip off of a David duChemin-style, Craft and Vision eBook“. But closer inspection proved us wrong in a delightful way! Here is a story of a photographer just starting out and going on a 4-month journey to India with a Canon Rebel and three inexpensive prime lenses and coming away with stunner shoots as good as anyone with high end gear and a lot of travel experience could make. Mitchell shows us his 10 favorite shots and describes the back story of making the images from concept to execution to post processing decisions. This eBook is refreshing because it shows that gear does not limit our creativity, we do! Worth the read for inspiration alone (full disclosure, we were sent this eBook for free to review — we like it and think it is worth the full price).

Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography

Speaking of refreshing, this eBook on food photography really caught our eyes. First of all, Lindsay, the author, is a newbie at photography with her start in 2010. In the short time since then, by using a dSLR with a prime lens, window light and home-made reflectors, Lindsay has learned to make mouth-watering food photography the equal of anything that comes from a high end food studio with all the best lighting gear and high end digital cameras. The eBook shows you exactly how she makes her food images with simple lighting and a strong emphasis on styling and composition. She has really great tips and tricks without all the technobabble that comes in most photography how-to eBooks. As well, we really like the fun and quirky design of the eBook and the conversational writing style. If you like food and recipes we highly recommend the Pinch of Yum blog! Thanks Lindsay for a photography eBook that breaks the mould! We bought this book using a 50% discount code. It captured us the minute we opened the PDF and this is one of the rare eBooks we feel bad that the author did not get full price!

Christopher O’Donnell’s The Art of Bokeh

Want dreamy, mystical, moody, painterly images? Well then check out Chris’ eBook on Bokeh (the aesthetic quality of the blur in out-of-focus areas of an image). Here is an eBook all about using wide open apertures like f1.4 or f1.8 to get super thin slices of focus and dreamy blur in landscape photography. But getting photos like we see in Chris’ eBook is not as easy as buying a fast lens and shooting wide open; there is much more to it than that! Fortunately, this wonderfully illustrated and well-designed eBook gives us the guidelines we need to make impressionistic-style images sure to make our painter friends’ hearts flutter. We paid full price on this one; it was worth every penny!

So, don’t waste your dollars – consume what you buy or save your bucks.

3 August

New eBook – The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers

Well… it’s finally here! We have just released our long awaited eBook, The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers. For those of you who have no idea what these lenses are or why you might want to use them, we have summarized the reasons in our free article  Seven Advantages of Using Tilt-Shift Lenses.

I want to give a personal huge thanks to the two big brains behind the making of this eBook. First of all I give my giant gratitude to Stephen Desroches who is the designer behind all of our eBooks. Stephen has ramped things up a notch and made this eBook a beauty to behold! And without Stephen, the oopoomoo website would not exist in its present form. Stephen is the master of pixels and all things webby and he is a fantastic photographer and great guy! Sorry ladies he is already taken 😉

Finally, I want to thank the unsung hero of oopoomoo, my girl and partner in crime, Samantha Chrysanthou. Without Sam oopoomoo would not exist at all (it was her big-brained idea). And more to the point, this new eBook would not be as kick-ass as I think it is without Sam’s guidance and input. Sam has a gift for the big picture (pun intended) and although I was the one with the tilt-shift lenses and I knew intuitively how to use them, it was Sam who fished out of me information that could be used to teach others. Sam was the one who came up with the bend for background, focus for foreground workflow for using tilt. She also came up with the ‘plywood’ analogy we use in the eBook to help explain the difficult concept of plane of focus. Sam also borrowed my tilt-shift lenses and set out to make pictures specifically for this eBook. Finally, without Sam’s keen eye for writing and editing, this eBook would probably be a jumble of comma splices, dangling participles, incomplete sentences and inconsistent spellings. Thanks darling, nothing is sexier than a big-brained woman!

I’m going to go out on a limb here to brag that I think the oopoomoo team has created the best resource on the web for tilt-shift lenses. Behind the scenes making an eBook is a tonne of work and they take weeks to assemble (and that does not include the years of shooting and the experience it takes to know and teach a subject). If you like the eBook, you’ll make our day by sending a friend to our bookstore so they can check it out for themselves. Please respect our hard work and artistic copyright by not sharing your copy or pirating the eBook. Otherwise, we’ll have to get a job at the Golden Arches. Our future would be serving you Big Macs instead of big-brained eBooks! 😉

Thanks from the oopoomoo team for your continued support for what we do!

The creative brains of oopoomoo.

The creative brains of oopoomoo.

19 March
7 March

Seven Advantages of Using Tilt-Shift Lenses

Below are seven reasons why we like to use tilt-shift lenses for nature and outdoor photography. If you want to learn exactly how to use a tilt-shift lens, be sure to come to check out our new eBook The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers.

Reason 1: Center and Edge Sharpness is Incredible.

A tilt-shift lens projects a very large image circle compared to a regular lens (see photos below). The closer to the edges of the image circle, the less sharp the projected image. Any part of the sensor that captures pixels near the edge of the image circle will be softer than pixels captured from the centre of the image circle. When set to the ‘zero’ shift position, a tilt-shift lens projects a giant image circle so that even the edges and corners of the sensor are capturing the sweet spot of the image circle.

When you compare the edge sharpness of tilt-shift lenses with regular lenses of the same focal length, the regular lenses fall short. For us this sharpness advantage is huge! We love having files with corner-to-corner sharpness.

Corner sharpness of a regular 24mm lens at f8

Corner sharpness of a 24mm tilt-shift lens

Reason 2: Horizontal and Vertical Panoramas Are Easy

With a tilt-shift lens, panorama photography is super easy. For a horizontal pan, mount your camera in landscape mode on a tripod and make three images: one with the lens in center position, one with the lens shifted to the right and then one with the lens shifted to the left. All three images will overlap perfectly and merge seamlessly in software. For vertical panoramas, the camera is in portrait orientation and the lens is shifted up and down vertically. Small sensor cameras give 3:1 ratio panorama images while full-frame cameras come in at about a 2.42:1 ratio. We cover some of the finer points in making panos from tilt-shift lens in our talk including exposure and software concerns.

Some sample vertical panoramas

Reason 3: Shift for Megapixel Images

Wanna make giant megapixels images with your camera? Well then just shift the lens in the opposing orientation to your camera to make megapixel rectangular images. For example, if your camera is in landscape orientation but you shift your lens up and down, you’ll get a big rectangular image that will increase your megapixel count by almost 100% (more with small sensor cameras). Shifting with a wide angle tilt-shift lens will also give you the coverage of an extreme wide angle lens but without the extreme distortion. For example, in the photo below using a full frame body and a 17mm lens, I increased the pixel count by 92% and the coverage of 17mm has increased to something in the 10-12mm range on a full frame camera!

Megapixel, mega-wide captures!

Reason 4: Shift for Perspective Control

Any time you point a wide angle lens up or down, things will start to distort; building and trees will look like they are falling over. With the shift function, perspective control is super easy if you know how to do it!

No perspective control

Perspective control using shift

Reason 5: Tilt for Miniaturization

We see this one a lot. It seems most photographers think tilt is only for making things miniature-looking. You can use it for that but tilt is really about altering the plane of focus to where you want it in the photo. The miniature effect happens when the tilt is opposite of the subject plane.

Miniature effect using tilt

Reason 6: Tilt for Infinite Looking Focus

Sam and I love tilt best for matching the plane-of-focus to the subject plane so that we have photos that are super sharp from foreground to background. Tilt allows us to control the plane of focus independent of aperture. Tilt for plane of focus is the most useful feature of these lenses but it can be super tricky! We’ll be discussing at our talk the Most Common Mistakes photographers do when tilting for focus (are you guilty of it?)

Both photos were taken with a 45mm tilt-shift lens at f2.8; the left without tilt, the right with tilt into the plane of focus (notice how sharp the entire subject plane becomes once the lens is tilted so focus matches the subject plane)

Reason 7 – Tilt and Shift Together for the Ultimate in Image Control

In nature photography when we use tilt-shift lenses, we are almost always using the tilt and the shift together. We might use shift for perspective control while tilt is for control of the plane of focus. Or maybe we are using tilt for focus but shift to make a panorama. The combinations and benefits are truly astounding! These lenses, while offering incredible creative opportunities, may not be for everyone. If you own a tilt-shift lens but haven’t been satisfied with results, or if you are thinking of purchasing one (they’re not cheap!), then come out on March 10th. If you have a tilt-shift, bring it along (if you don’t, no need to fret as we’ll have ours there). We plan to release a new eBook on these lenses in May, but we find there is nothing like a hands-on, guided discussion for fast and easy learning!

Tilt and Shift together

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