How to photograph the Aurora Borealis

This year (2013-2014) is a good time for seeing the Aurora Borealis (and its lesser-known Southern twin, the Aurora Australis) – commonly known as the Northern- and Southern Lights. I have my heart set on seeing the Lights with my own eyes in the coming year, so in this post I’d like to talk about how one can best prepare for capturing this natural wonder.

A friend, Bart Vastenhouw, travelled to the region of Varanger in Norway to see and photograph the lights. Here is one of the photographs he came back with:Aurora at Varanger

Bart captured this beautiful scene using a Canon 40D and Canon 10-22mm F3.5-4.5 wide-angle lens. The 40D was a good camera, but these days there are better ones to choose from. The lens is decent too, but for best results you’d want a wide angle with larger aperture (F2.8 or faster).

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New firmware fixes D600 HDMI output. (Also, updates for almost all of Nikon’s current other DSLRs)

Yesterday, Nikon released new firmware for almost all of its current DSLR line-up, namely for the D4, D800, D600, D3, D3s, D3x, D7000 and D3200. Most of these updates only add full compatibility to the exotic new 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens – a lens very few people will ever see or use.

D600Bits

The highlight, for me, is the fact that Nikon has now finally addressed the uncompressed HDMI bug that frustrated D600 videographers. This issue used to be a reason for DSLR videographers to get the more expensive D800, and seemed like a lame up-selling scam on Nikon’s part. No more, it seems!

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How to batch separate & crop multiple scanned photos

In this post I’ll show you two ways in which you can automatically split a (collection of) scanned pages, each containing several photos, into individual image files. My experience is that for this GIMP works better than Photoshop, and as an added bonus: it’s free!

Caveat: The GIMP script will work only on Windows computers due to its dependence on deskew.exe. If an Apple user can suggest a workaround, I’ll be happy to hear it!

[2013-05-16 Update: the GIMP script can now handle TIF files as well]
[2014-10-02 Handles reading .tiff and .jpeg extensions too. Output dpi set to 600.]

AutoSplit_Gimp_Photoshop

Just like you, I also have old photo albums at home. Albums with family photographs, glued to paperboard pages. And you also probably want to have them in digital format – e.g. to share with family members, to protect them from degradation and loss, or just for your digital library.

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Adobe Lightroom 4.2 is released; supports new cameras incl. Nikon D600

Work these last few weeks was crazy, and I have yet to tell you about my experiences with the Nikon D600, of which I am now a very satisfied owner.

But since I got this camera, two weeks ago, a major thorn in my side was the official lack of support for it in Adobe Lightroom, my main photo editing / workflow software. It was possible to get around this by tricking Lightroom into thinking the images came from a D800, but this was a schlep and no ideal way to deal with it.

Since yesterday, Lightroom 4.2 is available, and adds supports for 22 new cameras, including the following important mainstream models such as:

  • Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i
  • Canon EOS M
  • Nikon 1 J2
  • Nikon D600*
  • Panasonic DMC-LX7
  • Pentax K-30
  • Sony Alpha NEX-5R
  • Sony Alpha NEX-6
  • Sony Alpha SLT-A99V

* Nikon claims that D600 support is preliminary, meaning that there might be small inaccuracies in e.g. white balance that need to be corrected manually.

Endorsement:
If you’re still undecided and know that you could use it, yes: I can definitely recommend buying Lightroom. The amount of time it has saved me is worth much more than its cost. Currently retailing at $130 it is cheaper than almost any DSLR lens, and it will add more to the quality of your photo’s than a lens of that price. There are freeware alternatives out there, and I’ve used many of them. In the end I prefer using a single and reliable piece of software over many loose and vendor-specific tools.
You can support this site by ordering it now via this link:
Adobe Lightroom 4 for $129.95 (via B&H)

(c) Usain Bolt

Not only is Usain Bolt the fastest man alive, but he is also a budding photographer! :)

Usain Bolt shooting some after-action snapshots with Swedish photographer Jimmy Wixtröm's camera. Image (c) Reuters

Usain Bolt shooting some after-action snapshots with Swedish photographer Jimmy Wixtröm’s camera. Image (c) Reuters

Immediately after making history by defending his 200m Olympic crown, Usain walked over to the photographer booth and took Swedish photographer Jimmy Wixtröm’s camera.
Bolt then proceeded to take several photos from his unique point of view. Pretty good photos, too! Now the question may be asked who has copyright of these photos.

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