In the early morning of April 15th the moon will acquire a reddish hue as we observe a total lunar eclipse lasting several hours. This rare event will make it a great night to go out and capture stunning moon photos with those telephoto lenses, and possibly moonscapes, if you get lucky!
According to NASA, the the moon will start changing color at 1:58 a.m. Eastern Time (GMT-4), as it enters the Earth's Umbra, or shadow. It will become the so-called "blood moon" by the 3:07 a.m., once it is fully engulfed by the shadow, and this will continue until approximately 4:24 a.m., when the process will begin undoing itself.
Although one would normally expect the moon to become invisible while it's in Earth's shadow, our atmosphere refracts some sunlight into the shadow, which is then scattered, ultimately resulting in a perceptible red hue. A similar effect reddens the sky during sunsets.
While lunar eclipses are quite common, total eclipses featuring a red moon are rare, as we need to be lucky to get the Sun, Earth, and Moon to line up properly. This time around we're super lucky, as similar eclipses will take place on October 8th of this year and April 4th and September 28th of 2015.
Read on for some lunar photography tips to help you get the best moon photos tonight.
Have you ever wondered how to capture extreme macro images with greater than life-size magnification? In this article, we'll be taking look at the technique that'll get the job done by walking you through an example image shot with a Pentax K-7 rig.
When my wife decided she'd had enough and went on one of her ballistic flyswatting rampages, I took this as too good an opportunity to miss out on for some extreme macro photography. And whilst one fly is good, two flies is even better, and her anti-fly mission was so devastating that I soon had a collection ready to give this challenging shot a go! Focus stacking is a niche branch of macro that actually only became possible with the advent of digital photography. Stacking is an attractive digital option because the laws of physics dictate that depth the of field at magnification will be very narrow before diffraction limits kick in, and this technique overcomes that problem. Stacking requires digital stills taken at many different focus points - because they have to be blended electronically in order to create one master "all in focus" image. Shooting the stack and combining the images are both slow processes - a typical finished stack would combine several hundred stills with subsequent overnight processing on a reasonably beefy PC.
The completed stack, after postprocessing with Noise Ninja and Topaz Detail (click to enlarge)
The challenges in this sort of photography start at the outset. Arranging and cleaning the small arthropods so that they photograph well is by itself a whole branch of entomology, the skills for which are usually the preserve of professional museum curators and college entomologists. This is a world filled with curious terms such as 'spreading' and 'relaxing' insects; a craft requiring deep reserves of patience and complete attention to detail. Preparing one specimen is itself a challenge but doing two together, trust me, made for some colourful language.
We've just updated our Recommended Gear page with the latest and greated products by Pentax and for Pentax. All the equipment featured on this page is something we truly enjoyed while putting together our in-depth reviews and homepage reviews over the course of the past year. We've picked out gear for every skill level, and we're confident you'll be happy with its performance, so don't miss it!
The page features 4 cameras, 6 zoom lenses, 10 prime lenses, and 6 different accessories suitable for all different kinds of kits.
So, whether you're a beginner looking to start to expand your kit, or a seasoned shooter looking to add a lens to your lineup, click here to check out our Pentax gear recommendations.
Of course, different photographers have different needs, so if you have questions about any items listed above or if you'd like personalized advice, don't hesitate to post on the forum!
Artists of any medium, whether it's photography, painting, cinematography, or otherwise, spend a great deal of time composing their images, often adhering to strict guidelines that have proven to enhance the power of a photograph and make it more naturally appealing to the viewer's eye. Arguably the most basic and fundamental of these compositional standards, and thus usually the first learned by aspiring photographers and artists, is the "Rule of Thirds."
In the above image, it's clear that both the horizon line and the center of the tree are placed very deliberately in certain parts of the photo. Read on to discover exactly why that is!
Editorial Note: In conjunction with the recently announced December Monthly Photography Contest, we thought it would be the perfect time to debut the second installment of the Pentax Forums Snap Tutorials! Aptly named (at least we think so), because the name is in fact a double entendre. In a photographic context, 'snap' is obvious. The other meaning refers to simplicity, brevity, etc., and that's just what these are - quick informative little guides to introduce you to a topic of photography that you may not have been previously aware of. Our first tutorial focused on 'Negative Space,' exploring how best to capitalize on not just the subject, but the contrasting void around it as well.
It's been a week since Black Friday, and now that the buying craze has calmed down, we can take a look back and see what Pentax gear was the most popular in the US this year among our forum members. If you'd like to review this year's deals, refer to these posts:
Like last year, Pentax's MAP pricing policy was dropped for Black Friday, which meant that almost all lens and camera prices could be reduced by a significant margin. None of last year's top 5 best-sellers made it onto this year's list, however:
The $599 Pentax K-5 II deal at B&H swept away just about every other offer this year. At 50% off the camera's original launch price, this came as no surprise. Over 100 of our members upgraded to the K-5 II as a result of the sale, and the sale cleared B&H's large inventory of the camera thanks to surprisingly-high interest from non-Pentax users. While the body-only kit was by far the most popular choice for our members, the attractively-priced 18-135mm ($799) and 18-55mm ($699) kits also moved. The K-5 II is now discontinued, as it has been replaced by the K-3. It will surely be a while until we see a comparable on a future camera, as even the price of the original K-5 never went this low!
The outgoing SMC 35mm F2.8 Macro and 70mm F2.4 Limiteds were the most popular lenses in this year's sale, followed by the DA 35mm F2.4 and DA 50mm F1.8, on which members enjoyed additional bundle savings of up to $65. This reduced the selling price of the DA 50mm to as little as $110.
Numerous other premium lenses such as the DA* 16-50mm also ended up selling well, although among the new HD Limited lenses, which were discontinued by a generous $130, only the HD 15mm F4 proved to be a hit. Last but not least, both of the new weather-sealed Pentax flashes made it onto the top 15 list, as they were discounted by $130-150.
As a result of the Black Friday sale, B&H, Adorama, and Amazon have nearly cleared their entire inventory of SMC Limited lenses. The K-5 IIs continues to be available for $999 as there were no compelling offers on it during this year's sale.
As photographers, we spend quite a bit of time finding image-worthy subjects and composing them in such a manner as to highlight them. Some might argue that that would be the crux of photography, and at the end of the day, that's why whatever it is happens to be the subject, after all. And whether we do it purposefully or subconsciously, the void around the subject is (hopefully) carefully considered as part of that overall composition, given the same amount of deliberation as the subject itself. In fact, it can be the deciding factor between a so-so snapshot and a gallery worthy photograph!
In the above image, it's clear that there are only two distinct 'things' in the photograph - the lonely dancer on the edge of a chair and her world of grey. Read on to discover what the interaction between the two of them really means from a photographic point of view!
Editorial Note: In conjunction with the recently announced November Monthly Photography Contest, we thought it would be the perfect time to debut the Pentax Forums Snap Tutorials! Aptly named (at least we think so), because the name is in fact a double entendre. In a photographic context, 'snap' is obvious. The other meaning refers to simplicity, brevity, etc., and that's just what these are - quick informative little guides to introduce you to a topic of photography that you may not have been previously aware of.
For our first shoot with the Pentax K-3, we took the camera out to the park together with the DA 35mm Limited Macro lens, one of the sharpest lenses in Pentax's current lineup. We captured a number of test photos with the camera: they're not artistic, but they do emulate many different real-world scenarios.
We found the K-3's image quality to be absolutely stunning at ISO 100— take a look at the 28 samples in this post and see for yourself! The exposure and white balance were generally spot-on, and the files are bursting with detail! Each thumbnail below is accompanied by a link to a full-size JPEG and RAW download. All photos are straight out-of-camera and no post-processing of any kind has been applied.
All settings were left at their default values, though we did bracket as needed. With a -0.3EV or -0.7EV exposure compensation, the K-3 seemed to handle even our most challenging test shots very well, including those with harsh lighting and contrasty areas.
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Yesterday, we received our production copy of the K-3. This means that we can finally start taking a closer look at this exciting camera! We will of course do our best to offer you a definitive verdict about the K-3's performance in our upcoming in-depth review, which you can expect to see on our homepage within a week or two.
We will be sure to put the K-3 through its paces to find out just how big of an improvement it is over its predecessors, the K-5 II and IIs; considering that the core hardware found in the K-5 II is more than three years old, we have high expectations for the K-3— and based on our very first impressions of the K-3, we have a hunch that those expectations will be met!
For now, let's start off with an unboxing of the Pentax K-3. We will follow up with a first impressions post once we've had enough time with the K-3 in the field. Enjoy and stay tuned!