France in Epcot

The new Photoshop CS6 – what is your “line”?

Like you, I’ve been watching the videos of CS6 and playing with it myself. (notice the important “it” in that sentence)

Things are gettin’ a little crazy with post-processing eh? What are your limits for what you’ll do with your photos? It’s a very personal thing… I won’t judge you… I’m just interested! Here’s my post-processing line (which I reserve the right to change at any time):

I will:

  • I will remove things like lightposts or ugly animals or tourists wearing Spice Girls T-shirts
  • I will use HDR to bring out the colors in the shadows and dial back bright areas
  • I will sharpen to bring emphasis to one area or another
  • I’ll take multiple exposures on a tripod and fix one area of a photo with another exposure

I will not:

  • I will not take a foreign object from one photo and put it into another (like pasting a moon over a mountain)
  • I will not take a sky from one photo and paste it into the landscape of another

I might:

  • Use the new Content-Aware-Move in CS6. I can’t decide! It’s a slippery slope. For example, in the photo below, I had to work so hard to find and frame these boulders in this EXACT way. Man, it would have been so easy just to go to an easier location and then re-arrange the boulders using CS6 Content-Aware-Move. But maybe that doesn’t even matter! I can’t decide… And it is soooooo slippery… If I will allow myself to “Move a Boulder 10 feet” — then maybe I would also also “Move a Moon Behind THAT Mountain” — then maybe I would also…. well… where does it stop? It’s almost like I am 6-years-old and moving stickers around a sticker book! Hehe… I’m confused… my “line” is constantly being challenged… like the border between two countries in a good game of Civ!

Daily Photo – France in Epcot

These little fabrications of countries around Epcot try really hard at being authentic, and they are often quite successful!  Sometimes bits and pieces here are a little cheesy, but I get the sense that the people that build, model, and landscape these things put a lot of time and effort (and love) into it.  I’m sure it gets down to the detail of trying to choose the right kind of fonts for the clock.

This evening was a particularly lucky one because of the clouds and the light in the sky.  This situation is so rare that I went photo-crazy for about 15 minutes while it lasted!

HDR Photo

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Behind the scenes – Virgin Gorda

Behind the Scenes

Here is a new video that I just made down here in the Caribbean for you. It shows how I set up to take the photo below, along with a few others!

To see my camera equipment, lenses, and stuff, jump over to the Camera Reviews page.

Daily Photo – The Abandoned Engine Room of the Coppermine

This coppermine on the edge of Virgin Gorda was a great find thanks to Stuck On Earth! I knew about many of the main places around the island to take photos, but I may have missed this place if I wan’t using the app. Be sure to go download it – and yes – we have plans to make it for other systems as well.

The Abandoned Engine Room of the Coppermine This copper mine on the edge of Virgin Gorda was a great find thanks to Stuck On Earth! I knew about many of the main places around the island to take photos, but I may have missed this place if I wan’t using the app. Be sure to go download it – and yes – we have plans to make it for other systems as well.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Sandstorm at Burning Man

Cameras at Burning Man

I get regular questions about how to protect your camera equipment at Burning Man.  Here are some points about that:

  • I use a backup (3rd) camera.  I mostly just pull out a micro 4/3rds camera and never change the lens.  It’s kind of a challenge, but a good challenge!
  • If you have to change lenses, well, don’t.
  • If you MUST change lenses, try to do it indoors… in a car or in an RV of some non-dirty hippy.
  • If you want to use your main camera, it’s good to weatherproof it with a baggie and tape… but the little dust will still get in.
  • Or, really, just follow my first bullet point and use a backup-backup camera and don’t worry so much! :)

Daily Photo – Sandstorm at Burning Man

The sandstorms come fast and furious. I was out in the middle of one as it blew across the playa. I was on my bike at the time, so it was easy to get around and find good perspectives of the temple as the sun was setting.

A storm of sands.  It comes to remind you of events that happen while you are busy living, and you ride alone through too many of them.  And truly, in the middle of the storm, there is nothing else but the storm.  It ebbs and flows and abates and gives shape and form to others.  And then it dies down and falls away, like a strange dream whose haunting fabric falls away the longer you are awake.

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Girl Running in Santa Monica

The Disney Castle Shot video

I mentioned this yesterday after I edited the post later in the day, but I decided to go ahead and embed the video now as well. This was made by William Beem when we were together, shooting the Disney castle…

PhotoWalk Live Stream

Watch it here. We had only half an idea for the Austin Photowalk – to have the always-unpredictable Gino Barassa follow us around and do a live Hangout from the event. The video quality is REALLY bad, but you still get a sense of the event in a way…  and an accidental shot inside the women’s bathroom…

Thanks to Keith Barrett and Dave Veffer for helping it happen!

Daily Photo – Girl Running in Santa Monica

And speaking of PhotoWalks, this is the first photo I got during the LA PhotoWalk. After I was on the steps and gave my little speech-thing, I went down right to the water’s edge to see what I could find. This little girl was running up the beach to her dad, so I grabbed a quick one while I talked through the shot for the crowd. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, since everything was unplanned.

Girl Running in Santa MonicaThis is the first photo I got during the LA PhotoWalk. After I was on the steps and gave my little speech-thing, I went down right to the water's edge to see what I could find. This little girl was running up the beach to her dad, so I grabbed a quick one while I talked through the shot for the crowd. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, since everything was unplanned.- Trey RatcliffRead the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Deep inside the Haunted Engine Room

New eBook Available over at Flatbooks!

Here’s a new kind of eBook for you over at FlatBooks.com.  Most ebooks, like my recent one about Photoshop, are photography-centric. This one is a bit different and more of a life-centric book.  It has gotten great reviews – hope you enjoy it!

3-2-1 Stop was written by Lorilee Lippincott and it’s filled with over 80 pages of advice, experiences, and application from someone who has experienced the freedom and power of being a minimalist in a consumerist world.

How I upload photos to Google+

I get this question a lot, so I made a little how-to video so you can see a little of my workflow.

Daily Photo -Deep inside the Haunted Engine Room

Right after the LA PhotoWalk, I decided to do something that may or may not have been illegal.  There is a haunted ship docked off the coast of Long Beach that has been partially converted to a hotel – the Queen Mary.  There is a little tour that takes you around haunted bits here and there.  Tom and I left the tour to start exploring on our own….  we found all sorts of amazing and creepy, abandoned places… this is one of them.

Deep inside the Haunted Engine Room Right after the LA PhotoWalk, I decided to do something that may or may not have been illegal.  There is a haunted ship docked off the coast of Long Beach that has been partially converted to a hotel – the Queen Mary.  There is a little tour that takes you around haunted bits here and there.  Tom and I left the tour to start exploring on our own….  we found all sorts of amazing and creepy, abandoned places… this is one of them.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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San Francisco Golden Gate by Night

TWIT Photo – Finding Your Artistic Self

I didn’t plan on this being the topic when I went into do this show with Leo Laporte, but this is what it turned into. I hope you find some bits and pieces in here of use to you! :)

Daily Photo – San Francisco Golden Gate by Night

I’d had a very long day up at the TWIT studios with Leo Laporte and gang, where I recorded TWIT Photo and MacBreak Weekly recently. After all that, I drove down south to find a place in Sausalito for the night with Tom. We planned on waking up early the next morning for photos. Since we were so close, we decided to take a small hike up the trail near there to see the bridge in the evening… and that is when I grabbed this shot.

San Francisco Golden Gate by Night I’d had a very long day up at the TWIT studios with Leo Laporte and gang, where I recorded TWIT Photo and MacBreak Weekly recently. After all that, I drove down south to find a place in Sausalito for the night with Tom. We planned on waking up early the next morning for photos. Since we were so close, we decided to take a small hike up the trail near there to see the bridge in the evening… and that is when I grabbed this shot.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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On Talent and Curiosity

I’ve thought about this a while before writing it. There were many jumbled thoughts and the shapes of certain truths, and I’ve done my best to sculpt them into something tangible.

So I had a lovely dinner with Vic Gundotra at his home. I actually wasn’t going to mention it at all until he did first. I don’t know what to do in these situations since there doesn’t seem to be any protocol, and I didn’t want to see internet-gauche. And so, here I am, after the seal has been broken, telling you some interesting things about our dinner.

We talked about everything from aesthetics to technology to time dilation to sociology to string theory to channeling emotions into creative output. Along these lines, I found out many things I never would have suspected, and it made me think more deeply about these notions of talent and curiosity.

Vic sat on the couch (after sending his well-trained son to the wine-cellar!) with some cheese and crackers, and vest and wry smile, and began to tell me something I never knew. It turns out that he has taken years and years of guitar lessons. He’s even had a private instructor come over to his home time and time again. He played proficiently, but one day after a straightforward question, his teacher gave him the bad news. Vic shifted in his seat and looked forlorn when he said, defeated, “I have no talent for it.”

And then later, towards the end of dinner, he told me about all the camera equipment he carries with him when he travels. He has more lenses than a Nat Geo crew jammed into his backpack, which means he is well beyond a “serious enthusiast.” Again, there is a tiny sadness in him that he can’t quite create the kind of images he really wants. There’s no doubt he’s got many winner-shots of his family in there, but I can tell there is more he wants to do with all that equipment. He has been unable to achieve the excellence he wants. Then, the topic turns to me, and he finds out that I’ve been at this for only a short time, and he chalks this up to the ever-intangible “talent.”

The conversation meanders naturally from subject to subject as we travel down various paths. He talks about time and people and the internet and the tendrils that connect them all. It’s more of a poem than a technical dissertation. He puts ideas into the shape of a cloud, shapes them with his hands, and then floats them across the room, only to offer up another.

His son comes down and Vic starts sharing some of my photos with him. He tells his son, with eyebrows high, “Trey has only been doing this for five years.” His son’s eyes get big, but I do my best to dismiss this by saying, “You can do a lot in five years if you’re curious enough.”

And then Vic goes back to talking about the connections between all of us, and how he and the team want to, essentially, enhance the humanness and connectivity of everything. He jumps between metaphors that bind together the theoretical and the practical. While he speaks with placid erudition, I can see glowing lines connecting the words and ideas that stretch into the future.

And while he shapes thoughts, I feel the edge of an idea. He has, in essence, a “talent” — but certainly not one with which anyone would be born, as talent is normally assumed to be divinely implanted. No one would ever be born with a “talent” for building social networks; there is no inborn talent to naturally work with a team to re-organize the web from pages to people. But certainly, one could say, that Vic has a talent for it. And maybe this is where curiosity comes into play.

Curiosity may be another word for “playful work.” I think all of us kind of stumble through life until we find something that resonates. And then, maybe, if you’re lucky, the curiosity will kick in and let you create what has never been created. The curiosity can help you find disparate parts of a whole and re-synthesize them into something that’s unique, unexpected, and wonderful.

So, Vic is “interested” in playing the guitar and photography, but he hasn’t let his curiosity run wild there yet. Over the past few years, his curiosity has been using up all his brain cycles over in the human-connection tech space. But a curious mind will wander, and maybe someday he’ll be able to release and explore other areas. The curiosity does require letting go and becoming one with the flow of the universe. I don’t mean to sound too Zen or anything, but you do have to let go of existing structured thought in order to let the curiosity blossom into something new. And I imagine this is exactly what he and the team have done with Google+ — in that they have let their minds go wild with every possible universe. And when you can see many universes in your future, you get to choose the one you want to be inside.

So I left his home later that evening and had a long ride home, thinking about everything. I can’t help but get excited like a little kid at these sorts of things. I’m not ashamed to say it. To me, these are the greatest conversations of all – those that deal within the spheres and magisterium of ideas. The notion of Vic’s mind running wild with the possibilities of what can happen when people are connected is like a waking dream.

I think about his family with him just before I left him for the night. It occurs to me that the root of all these people is that little network he holds most dear — his family as they buzz around him with ideas and thoughts and voices of their own.

And there, just inside the warm home, I see this family move about here and there, and I come to understand him even more. I feel why he is happy and curious. His wife’s smile shapes his day and his gentle kids set his mind to the dreaming realms.

A Great Day at the Google HQ! Wow that was a cool experience.  Those guys and gals over there are super-nice.  You never know...  I guess maybe Google seems somewhat intimidating from the outside, but after I met guys like Cliff, Brian, and Chip -- I felt right at home.I gave an hour-long talk in one of their theaters there.  It was super-packed and people were standing all around because seats were gone.  We were graced with the presence of one Sara Jane Todd from @Peachpit to help out selling books - and we sold out!  Also, my Brazilian friend Fabio, the editor of Abduzeedo was there too, so it was great to see him.The Authors@Google (video link) program has a neat deal where they subsidize books, so Googlers don't have to pay full price.  I saw all kinds of cool stuff and took a lot of pics.  I have to get most cleared with Google Corp Comms before I can release... but I nabbed shots of a spaceship, a new pseudo-holodeck, and more mysteries await!  We even got to eat lunch there in the Google cafeteria, which had some of the most excellent food I've ever had in such a setting... they even have a small organic farm on the campus... well, I could go on and on...  but I was very impressed and happy to meet so many enthusiastic people!The video should be done in the next 2-3 weeks or so.  We've got good-man Brian at Google slaving away on editing the whole thing together!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Why Photographers should Stop Complaining about Copyright and Embrace Pinterest

The Digital Rapture

As this future becomes more and more plain to me, I see a rapture of sorts, where old-school photographers clinging to the old-fashioned ways of doing things will be “left behind.” So much of the irrational behavior and anger is usually based in fear (fear-of-change, specifically), but it doesn’t have to be that way.

When it comes to sharing your photographs online, you can go in two directions. You can put small images online, watermark them and then spend some or all of the week chasing down people that have used them inappropriately.

Or, you can be like me.

Offer up all your creations in maximum and beautiful resolution to the will of the web. The web, and the universe, has a certain flow to it. You can become one with that flow and enjoy the ride. You can let the opportunity of what-can-be motivate you rather than the more poisonous fear-of-loss.

Join Me on Pinterest

I’m at pinterest.com/treyratcliff/.  I have boards with my stuff, places I’d like to visit, other favorite photographers, and design ideas.  Link to yours in the comments if you want to share.

The Big Picture – The Now of Sharing

Sharing isn’t the future; it’s the now. Before we talk about Pinterest in particular, let’s discuss an overall digital sharing strategy. Forming a solid philosophical foundation will help keep you from feeling like you’re always flapping in the latest digital breeze.

A pure artist has two motivations: creation for the sake of creation and sharing for the sake of connecting with the world.

In this recent talk at Google, I talk about the importance of sharing as an artist. Skip ahead to 7:22 for my sharing strategy or 11:50 to hear about Creative Commons.

Sharing your artistic creation with one person is better than zero. Sharing your artistic creation with 20 people is better than 10. And so it goes. Furthermore, if you want people to see your work in all its glory, it needs to be available at maximum resolution with no watermark. This is my opinion. Personally, if I see an image with a watermark, oftentimes all I can think about is that annoying watermark. Maybe this is just me.

The Results of My Open Sharing

I’ve been doing this for over five years under the Creative Commons Noncommercial license, which means anyone can use my images for personal reasons such as blogs, wallpapers, etc., but they must contact us for commercial licensing. It has resulted in my images getting 100′s of millions of views in the past few years; and emerging in the last six months in Google+, where open sharing has helped me to get over 3 million followers. When I share images there, the results go crazy because of the multiplication effect. For example, the “End of the World” image below has been viewed more than 35 million times.

This photo has over 35 million views thanks to Google+. When Google+ got started, many photographers were also upset about copyright issues. But not me.

None of this would have happened if I had the opposite attitude towards sharing. There are many other photographers that know exactly what I mean and get a lot of pleasure out of people seeing their work. It doesn’t matter if it is 100 people or 1,000 people that see your work. The point is that sharing (aka communicating your vision) with others makes the artist feel more alive.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is window-shopping on steroids. It is said, in a generally dismissive manner, “Oh, women really like Pinterest.” Fool! Women rule the world! In the great interwoven networks of our Dunbar 150s (wikipedia) , it’s the women that form most of the connections between and across groups.

> Techcrunch sites that Pinterest has over 10.4 mil users and 97% of the likes are from women. Article.

I say it is like window-shopping because it is a very visual and eye-darting experience. Women have a particularly good eye at finding something that is “interesting.” Now that doesn’t mean it’s good or bad necessarily, it just means that they are interested in it. They have an ability to “gather” interesting bits – a skill that still baffles my befuddled male-hunter brain. Then, almost effortlessly, they can “pin” it to their own board — their own “window.” This window-shopping then spreads at an algorithmic rate as different users with different Venn-diagrams of interest start building their own windows, all of which adds to the growing meta-mind-share of interesting images.

> “My wife used to have an interest in my interests, but now she only has an interest in her pinterest.” – Trey Ratcliff on a lonely night…

Why are some photographers anti-Pinterest?

Many photographers fear Pinterest because anyone can “pin” an image of theirs and all copyright is stripped away. This isn’t necessarily true, because the link to the originally pinned location is still there. So, you can think of it as a hyperlink that just happens to be a visual thumbnail instead of boring text like “Awesome Photo of Disneyworld.”

Instead, now I think of Pinterest as sort of an amuse-bouche. If people are interested, they will follow links to find out who actually took the photo. Perhaps they want a print. Or maybe they would like to license the image to use for an advertising campaign or on a commercial website. Either way, people that are willing to pay you money will do their best to track you down.

Free traffic leads to real revenue

Most people in the world are good people. If they find digital art they want to buy for a print or use in a commercial campaign, they will figure out a way to get you money. 99% of your traffic is truly “window-shoppers.” They will look at your goods, take note, enjoy them and move on. But 1% will want to make a personal or business transaction with you.

Despite what fear-mongers have told you, everyone will not steal your images. Most legitimate companies will work out a proper licensing arrangement with you. Even though I use Creative Commons Noncommercial, I still license my images with the Copyright office. This enables us to sue companies that do not go through the proper channels. There was a well-publicized case lately where we sued Time for using my images in an ad for their iPad app. But that is another story. The point is that most people do not steal, and on those edge cases where it does happen, you have many reactive options.

Pinterest accounts 15% of our Traffic

StuckInCustoms.com has healthy traffic that grows every year thanks to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. We don’t advertise or buy links or any of that stuff. So I depend on the Internet and nice people like you to link back to the site and tell your friends that you find something unique and cool.

Last month, we had 714,143 Pageviews and 234,107 unique visitors. 15% of this traffic came from Pinterest. Amazing! If Pinterest didn’t exist (a reality some photographers would prefer), then our traffic would be 15% less. Choosing to switch-off innovation is a fool’s errand, especially in today’s world. It reminds me of the scene in Anthem where the council of candle-makers becomes rather upset at the invention of the light bulb.

New Styles of Human Communication

Increasingly, we have a new way of talking to one another. It’s not through voice or text — it’s through photos. They are like Chinese characters taken to the next order of magnitude. It’s strange to think about, but I can quickly show you five photos and communicate an idea, a story, or a complex thought. There wasn’t an easy way to do that 5 or 10 years ago.

Someone on Pinterest can make a board called “Feeling a bit blue,” and they can fill it with cool-colored melancholy photos. Isn’t this just another way of making a poem? If I built up this pinboard and sent it to a friend, it’s nothing but a visual poem in a new medium. It’s just as powerful, and, in many ways, more accessible.

Pinterest is simply another way (a newer, evolving way, mind you) for humans to communicate with one another. It is increasingly the job of digital artists to inspire, share and bring more beauty and communication into the world.

Discussion of your opinions on the matter

Whenever I discuss the subject of copyright in the evolving Internet, there is more than enough vitriol that gets spewed into the comments. That is fine. I leave comments here open – so, what do you think?

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DSLRs are a dying breed – 3rd Gen Cameras are the Future

“‘To take an interesting photo, some may choose to carry around a lot of metal and glass and mirrors and silicon. I choose to carry around less metal and glass and silicon. Oh, and no mirrors.’ – Me, quoting myself.” – Trey Ratcliff

Interview about the Sony NEX vs. Nikon in July of 2013

I know the update above has been a controversial decision, so Frederick Van Johnson, host of This Week in Photo, wanted to get me into this interview. Now, here’s a cool thing. If you go to This Link For the Interview, you can scrub forwards and back in the video until you see the question you want answered. Man, it is a long interview, but everything you ever wanted to know is in there! :)

Update – the Transitions is Complete

In July of 2013, I decided to switch and stop using DSLRs as my main weapon. To see more, come read “Hello Sony. Goodbye Nikon.

No More DSLR Equipment for me – Trey Ratcliff

I can’t picture myself investing any more money in DSLR bodies and lenses. The new Nikon D4 that is coming out? Not interested.

3rd Gen Cameras are already here, and they will only get better according to all the laws of size and speed we’ve come to know and love.

What are 3rd Gen Cameras?

These are the new line of cameras that don’t use the 20th century technology of a mechanical mirror inside that flips up and down between photos. In a few years, we’ll all look back and smile, having fond memories of using these Da Vinci-esque mechanical devices. Charts of how cameras used to work with their flipping innards will look like some of Leonardo’s unrealized steampunk inventions.

Example Camera – The Sony NEX-7

I’ve recently reviewed a mirrorless camera I bought and really like – see my Sony NEX-7 Review.

Video: Watch this video below by Scoble, and jump ahead to 35:25 to see me talk about this new generation of cameras…

Naming: Mirrorless = Horseless Buggy

Some people have called this evolution “mirrorless” cameras. In my judgment, that is a ridiculous name. You don’t name a category of technology by what it is not. I suppose we did use to call an “automobile” a “horseless buggy,” but now we look back on that quaint term and laugh. So, of course we will not call these cameras “mirrorless” for long.

And so the term “3rd Gen Cameras” is much better for this new phase of digital photography. It also encompasses the other nonsensical names out there like “Micro four-thirds” and “EVIL” monikers. Gearheads talk too much about the tech, and it simply confuses the common man. The “3rd” bit pays homage to the first generation – those innovative but weak first forays into digital. It also puts all the current DSLRs into the “2nd Generation Cameras,” since that’s when digital photography really got its legs under it. Heck, even most of the old-school film curmudgeons have crossed the Rubicon. To think that DSLRs with gesticulating mirrors and spinning gears are the future is to have one’s head in the sand.

The Pain of Choice

Look, I hate to say it! I’ve spent loads of money on DSLRs and lenses for my Nikon. I’m not going to be using any of it in five years.

This is why the first decision is always a big one. Canon or Nikon. I don’t really get into that argument. But, I do agree that once you commit to one, you’ll be buying a lot of lenses and just swapping out the body. That’s why that first decision is so key — and it is the reason that I won’t buy any more Nikon bodies or lenses — because I won’t be using any of them in the future.

If you’re not familiar with these 3rd Gen Cameras, you may ask, “Why can’t I use my current lenses on these new camera bodies?” The answer is because those lenses are designed for bodies with a mirror that flips up and down. Those bodies need to be _extra-thick_ to make room for that medieval reflective trapdoor. So, your current lenses focus the light too deep for the new supermodel-thin 3rd gen cameras. Yes, there are converters that let you use them, but it defeats the purpose and advantages of having an ultra-small flexible lens system.

HDR Photo

Caption: I didn’t use a DSLR to get this. In fact, in looking at this site at StuckInCustoms.com , it may be hard to know which images I got with a DSLR and which ones I didn’t.

I won’t go into all the tech about these cameras, since this is an article about the trend rather than the finer points of the tech. If you want to talk tech and learn more, head over to one of the best sites on the net for learning all this stuff, CameraLabs.com. It’s run by the brilliant Gordon Laing, and he is one of the world’s foremost experts on this stuff. Plus, he creates amazing camera reviews and everything — written and video. Think of it as Top Gear for cameras!

But, look – it’s not all roses. Let’s talk about some disadvantages before we talk about the advantages. I’d like to think I’m pretty objective about it. By the way, Nikon doesn’t pay me or anything. Neither does the camera industry, whatever that is. You can make the case that Best Buy is in cahoots with TV manufacturers to “hype-up” 3D TV just to sell more TVs… or to make people feel like they really need to own a 3D TV. In reality, most of us know that is just marketing nonsense and not necessarily the future of all TVs (maybe just a strain of them).

Disadvantages of 3rd Gen Cameras (note: all will be overcome with time and iterations)

Sensor Size: You can’t quite get “Full Frame” sensors yet, like those available on the more expensive DSLRs. The current 3rd Gen Cameras, like the Nikon V1, will have a cropped sensor. What this means, in the case of the V1, is that the 10-30mm lens will actually be 27mm to 81mm. So, that’s not the end of the world, but something to consider. *Most* DSLR users are currently on cropped sensors, by the way. Only the high-end pros use full-frame sensor DSLRs.

Gordon Laing from CameraLabs.com chimes in: Sensor size. Most mirror-less ILCs have smaller sensors than pro DSLRs. The exception is the super-expensive Leica M9 which does squeeze a 36x24mm full-frame sensor into a relatively small, mirrorless body, but the rest are smaller than full-frame.

Of these, the largest are the APS-C sensors deployed in Sony’s NEX and Samsung’s NX ranges. These are the same size as most DSLRs, including Nikon’s DX range. After this come Micro Four Thirds models from Panasonic and Olympus, followed by Nikon’s CX format in the J1 and V1, and below that the Pentax Q. As the sensor gets smaller, it typically becomes less sensitive to light and easier to saturate – so less dynamic range and more noise. It also typically means a bigger depth of field, which is no good if you like your out of focus bokeh effects. But on the upside, the smaller, the sensor, the smaller the lens.

Of all this, the important thing is to remember a Sony NEX or Samsung NX has the same sensor size as a Canon APS-C or Nikon DX body.

So, for the vast majority of DSLR users, this is not even a consideration, as they are used to these sensor sizes.

For the high-end pro DSLR users that want the equivalent full frame sensor, well they will only need to wait a little while. Maybe, like me, you already have good enough equipment to wait until those full-frame sensors are on the 3rd gen cameras.

Now, the current 3rd Gen Cameras have 10+ megapixel cameras. It’s not full-frame, but you’re certainly not skimping on image resolution. I know sometimes beginners get these things confused (frame size vs. resolution), so, don’t worry about that.

Gordon Laing from CameraLabs.com chimes in: Resolution. Be careful here, as some ILCs have the same or even higher resolutions as DSLRs. The Nikon 1 may only be 10 Mpixel, but Panasonic have a 16 Mpixel micro four thirds sensor, and Sony uses 16 and even 24 Mpixel sensors in its latest NEX models. So resolution is comparable to DSLRs.

BTW, I can say this with certainty: a full frame sensor will not necessarily give you a better photo. I can show you hundreds of thousands of amazing photos from beginner to advanced photographers that are not full-frame sensors. Anyway, don’t complain. Just wait — it’s coming – obviously.

Gear-heads will really give me a hard time about this. Let them. Most fully-formed artists know that the goal is to create an _interesting image_, and that has little to do with sensor size and resolution.

The Morning Fisherman Now, getting to this place was not easy!I arrived about 1 AM at a tiny family-run inn by the river.  I was meeting a local guide at 5 AM, so I didn't get a lot of what I would call "quality sleep".  Anyway, I got up very early and went downstairs in pitch black.  There seemed to be a big white cloth box I had to go around to find the front door.  My guide was outside.  The door was locked and we could not figure out how to get it open.  Everyone at the little inn was sound asleep and I was totally confused.  Then, from inside the big white box, a body flew out of it!  There was a 60-year-old Chinese guy inside that was sleeping until I woke him up with all my lock-manipulations.  His naked limbs in the white sheets scared the bejeezus out of me and woke me right up!And then we were on the river about 5:15.  It was still completely dark outside.  And I mean COMPLETELY DARK.  It was a thin bamboo raft with an outboard motor.I turned around to ask my guide, "How the heck does the boat driver know where he is going?!?"He calmly said, "Oh, no worry.  The river is very wide."I not-calmly said, "Well, that's great and everything, but I can't even see the edge to the river!"He calmly said, "But it is so wide."This line of questioning was not getting me anywhere, so I just decided to sit back and enjoy my possible last moments on Earth.  Then the sun started to rise, and we moved the boat over to the best bank for the angle.Want to hear something amazing about these fishermen?  You won't believe it... but maybe others can confirm this! The fishermen use these two trained cormorant birds that have their throats tied.  The birds dive into the water, eat a fish, but then can't swallow it because of the rope.  The fisherman rudely pulls the fish from the bird's throat and drops it into that basket behind him.  The bird then goes over to a tiny keyboard and sends out the tweet, "WTF".- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Caption: I took this photo with my Nikon D3X, but I could have captured the exact same image with the Sony A77, for example. There is nothing about this image that required a DSLR.

No Optical Viewfinder: This is a good one. The path to getting around this disadvantage is a tricky one, filled with misconceptions and habits/baggage.

Here’s the thing. I, like you, am used to looking through the optical viewfinder. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is when you peer through little window on top, and the light you see is reflected off a mirror. So, you’re seeing what is really there – real-time.

Many new 3rd Gen Cameras also have a viewfinder window up there (sometimes as an attachment), but it is an electronic viewfinder. That means you’re seeing a little LCD display at extremely high resolution.

Many DSLR people have an irrational fear of this based on lousy, slow, laggy LCD “live” displays on current DSLRs. I agree! But this is not a fair comparison because it uses a different rendering tech than the 3rd Gen Cameras. These new cameras have very y fast LCD displays. It’s as real-time as real-time. You may see some slowdowns and tearing during panning, but those disadvantages will be overcome soon enough.

And, remember, you don’t have to hold out the camera in front of you to see the back display like a tourist at Trevi Fountain. You can still pin the top of the camera to your eye, old-school, and get a nice little dark, framed, area for taking your photo.

So, it will actually be kind of awesome — you know, like those binoculars that Luke used at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back to see the droid. You can have all kinds of read-outs a HUD information.

Hardcore action-photographers (which is a small percentage, btw) may choose to stick with DSLRs until the electronic viewfinder gets even faster. But that won’t be much longer.

You Won’t “Look” like a pro: Imagine showing up to a paid gig with a little camera. Won’t that be a little embarrassing? Yes, I suppose. But, if you have a killer portfolio, who cares what people think? Ideally, clients will chose you based on your portfolio, not on the size of your camera.

Fourth on Lake Austin It was a tough night because I was on the edge of a bridge that was rumbling as cars went across. The evening was very windy, and there was a light driving rain right into my lens. I had to wipe down the lens after every few exposures and try to cup my hands over the top during the shot.  This ended up being the first HDR photo to hang in the Smithsonian, and it made my mom very proud.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Caption: This Smithsonian photo was taken with very early digital technology — many years ago with the Nikon D70 – a camera with arguably less functionality and features than this first wave of 3rd Gen Cameras.

Advantages:

Scary FPS: Do you know how many frames per second you can shoot on these 3rd Generation Cameras? OMG. I know I sound like a teenage girl when I use that acronym, but I kind of feel like one.

Of course, the reason they can take so many frames per second is because you don’t have this old mirror flipping up and down all the time. The Nikon V1 can do 10 FPS with autofocus or 60 FPS (!!!) with fixed focus, and that’s now in the beginning of 2012. Just wait for the end of 2012! I used one of these for a few weeks from BorrowLenses.com.

And, for those sports photographers that really need the action, maybe this will outweigh the optical viewfinder situation above. These cameras can buffer a lot of frames before you first push the shutter button. So, that means you’ll get a bunch of extra frames before and after that decisive moment.

Of course, this changes post-processing a bit more… you’ll just spend more time in Lightroom finding the best 1 image out of 200 instead of the best 1 out of 20. But, to me, this is a good problem to have! Maybe it’s just me, but I love hanging out in Lightroom, drinking good tea or coffee, and flipping through the day’s shots to find my favorites. Good times!

Size: 3rd Generation DSLRs are smaller, thinner, and lighter. So are the lenses. A possible disadvantage of this is you won’t look like such a stud anymore in front of clients. Anyway, I won’t say any more about this topic. Smaller is better. There’s nothing noble about carrying around a bunch of heavy equipment.

Cleaning: Since the mirror doesn’t flip up and down any more, you’re not flinging a bunch of dust and junk around the inside of that barn. After each trip I take, the sensor on my D3X and D3S needs a good old-fashioned cleaning. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to do that any more. Call me lazy.

Nikon and Canon (and big magazines) won’t tell you what I am telling you

Why? They want to keep selling DSLR bodies and lenses. It’s not a conspiracy or anything – it is just good business.

Also, big camera manufacturers are all in cahoots with magazines to continue to sell products. Magazines will continue to talk about them too, since their advertising is the lifeblood of the magazine. I have a longer article on that topic: “Stop Advertising in Magazines – Head West to the Web” – enjoy!

Summary

Personally, I’m not going to buy any more DLSR bodies or lenses. I’m waiting on the descendants of this first phase of 3rd Gen Cameras. Even though you can make a good case for great cameras like the Sony A77, the new lines of Nikons, Panasonics, etc etc — I want to wait for a few more iterations — but I won’t be waiting long.

3rd Gen Cameras are the clear future category for digital photography. Objectively, these cameras have more advantages than disadvantages. As Moore’s law clicks along, the disadvantages will dissipate like fog in the sunrise.

Final Note: The above below was taken with…. drumroll… the mirrorless camera (the Sony NEX-7)! And the kit-lens, no less! For more, see my Sony NEX-7 Review.

The Lupines at SunsetSo here is a cool thing about this photo that one might not guess. This was taken with a Sony NEX-7 and the kit lens! Yes, the kit lens.This was shot on Baker Beach in San Francisco one evening when I was exploring…. I was double-fisting it with two cameras… and I saw this quick scene so I went for this experimental shot.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Glacier in the Fog

Digital Workflow and Stuff

This is a little presentation I did at the Apple store here in Austin.

Now, many of you have heard different flavors of this talk before. But, there is some new stuff in here (at 22:08) , particularly about workflow and how I keep track of my digital assets. I also have a more thorough Digital Workflow eBook that even comes with a video.

Want to see a full timecode / description? Visit this one on my YouTube page.

Daily Photo – Glacier in the Fog

Yesterday’s photo was of Glacier National Park, and today we have another glacier – but this one is from Argentina.

The glaciers in Glacier National Park are really quite boring. I’m sure that’s not a nice thing to say, but it’s true. The only ones I saw were quite far away and not very epic-looking. Maybe I was in the wrong place, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! :)

Glacier in the FogYesterday's photo was of Glacier National Park, and today we have another glacier - but this one is from Argentina.The glaciers in Glacier National Park are really quite boring.  I'm sure that's not a nice thing to say, but it's true.  The only ones I saw were quite far away and not very epic-looking.  Maybe I was in the wrong place, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong! :)- Trey RatcliffRead more (and see a video of a cool workflow presentation) here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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