Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pelican backpack attachment - for free!

I was shooting in the UK recently, and I had to bounce between 2 locations that were about 5 minutes of walk away from each other. I have this Pelican 1510 case for my camera and lenses. And it has wheels, which is awesome, but not when there is no even ground to roll it on. Well there was grass, pebbles and dirt, so I had to carry my camera. It's pretty heavy. It has a D3s, a 14-24, 24-70, and a 70-200 in in, all f/2.8, plus all the accessories. (Barely fits).

Needless to say it was a pain to carry this thing around all day, so I decided to make it easier somehow.

I found this backpack attachment thing on B&H but it's like a $100 and when it's attached, you can't roll the case. You have to take it off, and put it somewhere when you don't need it. I don't like that.

Basically after a bit of research, I found out that there is nothing out there that I needed, so I decided to make my own. The idea was that I can roll my case, but if I need it, I can just turn it into a backpack with no effort.

The solution that I came up with, is to cut 2 pieces off of a 2" wide infinite ratchet strap, and attach it to the top of the sliding handles with some bolts and nuts, and to the bottom screws of the case. This way when the handle is extended, the case can just roll, and the strap is out of the way, but when the handle is retracted. It immediately turns into a backpack and I can just pick it up and throw it on my back.

It's pretty awesome, And totally workable.

Here are some pics:

With the handle extended, the strap is out of the way, and the case can roll.

When I push in the handle, the strap becomes loose, and I can pick it up and wear it like a backpack.

This is how it looks on my back.

I think it's pretty awesome.
Pelican could make a fortune selling this thing. I wish I could be bothered to make money of this but it's just much easier to post it on my blog, than to do all kinds of whoknowswhats for money.
This way y'all can take the idea and improve it for free. And free stuff is cool.

have a good one!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

FIX: SB-800 only fires full power (or any other flash)

So your flash only fires full power? Or it kinda looks like it's even a bit stronger than full power?
I had the same thing happened to me. Twice.

When I asked, Nikon wanted I think $120 to get it fixed. Or more, I don't remember. The point is that I do not have the money to get it fixed.
So, I decided to try to fix it myself. And I did.

I did a bunch of research, and took my flash apart and put it back together several times, and I managed to not electrocute myself in the process.

Basically I found out that...
Oh, first: Disclaimer: I'm not some kind of certified technician, or trained in this kind of stuff. All I know I found out by myself, by experimenting and just generally being interested. The stuff I'm about to describe will FOR SURE void any kind of warranty, and it's also quite dangerous to do, considering that there is like 400V inside the capacitor of your flash, and you don't want that to go through your body.So I'm not responsible for any kind of damage that you or your flash or anything else might suffer in the process. In fact, I'm not responsible for anything you do. It's all up to you.
Advice: Before you start poking the inside of your flash with soldering irons and screw drivers, DISCHARGE THE CAPACITOR!!!! You can find how to do it in the repair manual on Page-9.
(HERE is the repair manual PDF)
Or alternatively, you can... well, this is a bit dodgy, but considering that your flash is dumping all the charge from the capacitor every time you flash, you can just press the test button, and RIGHT after the flash fired, rip the battery door open. This will not allow the capacitor to re-charge again. (this does not work if your flash is not broken the same way as described above. In case you have a working flash, you MUST discharge the capacitor as described in the above PDF.)

OK, so basically I found out that there are 2 components inside your flash that can be responsible for the above symptoms. (assuming you already tried the 2-button reset and it did not work)

One of them is a little black transistor, called IGBT. (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor). This guy is responsible for cutting off the electricity at the exact moment in order to provide the desired amount of light. If this transistor fails, it will not cut off the power, and will let all the electricity through the flash tube, therefore you end up with a nuclear blast, and an 8 second recycle, not matter what setting you are on. (even if you press the shadow button). This component can be found in pretty much every modern speedlight. (I know that many Canon flashes have it, and the SB-800 and the SB-50DX have it too.)

To fix this, all you have to do is to buy a new one, de-solder the old one from the PCB-B in your flash, and replace it with the new one... It's much easier to say, than to do.

There are some slight differences between SB-800s. They have slightly different parts inside. The number on the IGBT in my older flash is CT40TMH-8 (data sheet PDF), and it's made by Mitsubishi. You can find it on e-bay, and order it. It costs about $6+shipping. It's quite good compared to the $120 that Nikon is asking for. In my newer SB-800 it was a CT40KM-8H (data sheet PDF), made by Renesas.

The other thing that can go wrong is the fiber-optic-thing-whatever-it's-called. There is a little fiber cable that attaches to a photo-diode on the BCB-B. This thing is being held in place with a little metal thing. if the fiber optic cable is not properly seated in the housing of the photo-diode, or if it's broken, you will have the same phenomena as described above. Full power pops, no matter what.

This is because this photo diode is responsible for seeing when the flash tube lights up, and by seeing that, it does it's thing and eventually tells the IGBT when to cut off the power. If this photo-diode does not see the light coming on, it will also not tell the IGBT to cut the power, and you end up with a nuclear blast again.

To fix this, you have to take the metal piece off of the photo-diode housing, plug the fiber in as far as it goes (basically all the way, until it stops) and then put the metal thingy back on. If it does not hold securely, glue it in place.
if your fiber is broken, you are pretty screwed, and you have to find a new one that is exactly the same diameter and replace it. But I bet that it's also cheaper than $120.

With that, your flash should work now!

I'd check the fiber first, to make sure that it's not loose, before ordering the IGBT. It could be that there is no need to buy anything, just put the fiber back where it's supposed to be and then it's all good.

I hope this helps!

And feel free to leave comments if you have anything to say about this.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

How to make Nikon JPEGs look like Canon JPEGs

So, I'm a Nikon guy, but I do like the JPGs that Canon cameras make. I like it much better than the Nikon JPGs. I thought that there must be a way to mimic the Canon JPGs with my D7000, and after fiddling with it for a while, I finally managed to get it right. It even got confirmed by a hardcore Canon user. She said "these really look like Canon JPGs" so there you go, there is evidence. I hardly ever shoot in JPG though, but it was fun to figure it out.

So the settings are in the SHOOTING MENU:

Set the white balance to Auto (the normal one) and then tweak it so it's Amber+1 and Magenta+3 (on the little grid the black dot is one right and three down)

Set the Picture Control to Neutral, and then tweak it so Sharpening is on 5, Contrast is -1, Brightness is 0, Saturation is +1 and Hue is 0.

Set Colour Space to Adobe RGB

and set Active D-Lighting to Auto.

This should give you Canon looking JPGs. Canikon JPGs. I'll post pictures when I have some that is worth showing.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


I started another blog too, and the idea is that I'll upload a bunch of photos all the time, and it'll be interesting, but if I'm too lazy, then I'll not update it and it'll fade into non-existence.
I promise that I will try.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Magic zippo

This is actually a long exposure shot. I put the grey cardboard as background. manual focus and camera is on tripod.
I used a Nikon D200 with the 18-70 stock lens.
I glued down the lighter, opened the shutter and lit the lighter.
the shutter was open for about 2.5 seconds, so it closed before the flame burnt in too much.
There was some light in the room, but not much. It was enough to correctly expose the lighter in 2.5 seconds.
The aperture was f/11, but focused really close, thus the soft background.
My finger was a littlebit visible in the shot, so I clone stamped it out, otherwise there is no other 'shopping involved (oh, of course converting from RAW to Jpeg too.)

I hope this helps t pull off similar shots, and if you did get inspired, please post me a link in the comments, so we can check out your shot too.

Monday, 7 March 2011

How to take high speed photos

When I didn't know how to take shots like this, I thought, that I will need a really good camera, with fast shutter speed, and lots of light. Well, I was wrong. The shot above was taken with 6 second shutter speed, in pitch dark. (well, not really pitch dark, because I used an SB-800 to light it)

It's because if you have a good DSLR, the fastest shutter speed you can get is 1/8000 of a second. That actually is not fast enough, when you shoot really fast moving things like water drops or bullet.
When you fire the flash on 1/64 power, it lights up for approximately 1/40,000 of a second, which is way faster than your DSLR. This will freeze motion.

This is how this shot was done:

So, i set up my camera on a tripod (Nikon D200 with 18-70), set manual focus, ISO 100, 6second, f/5.6. (you can stop down more, because it's good to get more depth of field when you shoot things like this) I had an SB-800 on the camera right, on (I think) 1/32 or 1/64 power, in my hand.

The backdrop was an A3 white paper, and I had 2 A4 white cards on the camera left to function as reflectors to reflect the light coming from the flash.

After this, I switched the lights off. I had a handful of paperclips in my left hand, and the SB-800 in my right, my finger on the test button. I opened the shutter with my left hand, threw the paperclips in front of the lens, and while they were falling, I fired the flash. after 6 seconds, the shutter closed, and done.

It took me about 5 tries to get this shot. I used paperclips, because I did it in my office, and they were at hand.

I hope it was useful.

Have fun, kids!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

DIY bounce card for the Nikon built-in flash

You say:
It's too dark, and the high ISO setting is already killing the picture with a bucketload of noise, but the photos just look sh*t with the pop-up flash, and I don't have an SB800 speedlight (because I broke it.) what do I do?

Well, first, don't break your flash, like I did.

But seriously, if you don't have an external flash, but you still want some decent lighting, here is a tip: Make a bounce card.
It's simple, you just have to cut out a piece of white cardboard, stick it in front of your flash, so it bounces the light from your flash to the ceiling, which diffuses it, and bounces it back to your subject.

Here is how I make and use my bounce card until I manage to save up for a new SB700 or SB900:

1: Get a fairly thick cardboard paper. I think anything above 160gsm will do:

2: cut out this shape. This is perfect for the Nikon D200, and good enough for the Nikon D100, but the gap is too big for the D70, so you will have to modify it a bit for other cameras.

You can download a template PDF from HERE.

Mine is a little bit too abused, but it still does the job.

3: Stick it on your camera like this:

this is how on the D200: (on other cameras it will be probably different, but you can find a way to put it there without having to use glue, but without having to hold it there. In this way, the card nicely sits there, and there is no need to hold it in place, or anything.)

4: Set your built-in flash to Manual and full power. This will eat your battery in no time, so you better bring a back-up battery with you. If you were already planning to bring a backup battery, then bring one more.

You can do this by going into the:
Menu > Pencil icon > Bracketing/Flash > Built-in Flash > M Manual > Full Power.

5: Shoot.

Here are some photos to show the difference: They were taken in low light, all on the same settings, except the flash:

Without flash:

With popup flash on TTL:

And with popup flash on Manual Full Power + bounce card:

Wicked, init?

Now, if you want to do portrait shots, (I mean portrait orientation) you will have to detach the card, and hold it in front of your flash with your hand, otherwise you will bounce your light off the nearest wall (which is not always a bad idea).

This solution saved my butt lots of times, but it's not perfect.
It does not work if:
- There is no ceiling
- The ceiling is dark
- The ceiling is too high
- Portrait orientation shots (unless you hold the card with your hand).

You can also make it from some semi-transparent white plastic, so some of the flash bounces, and some goes through the pastic to fill. I never tried that, because I don't have the material for it, but I'm sure it would work quite well.

I hope you will like yours, and don't forget to make more than one, because they wear out quite quickly.

Good luck!

Friday, 25 February 2011

FX camera with DX lens

This is not supposed to be, but every now and then, use my 18-70 DX for the D700.
If you turn off the feature that crops the image when you use a DX lens, you can get some funky vignettes.
Now, I know you could achieve this with a bit of cardboard, but it's not that much fun.

I shot this with the D700 from the back of a bus, with the 18-70 DX lens. I shot it in JPG and it was set to B&W, so no post-processing done besides sticking the logo on it.

I never use the crop feature though, because you lose like half the resolution if you do, so just don't buy a D700 with the 18-200 lens, like some rich stupid people I have met.

This is a quite pointless post, but I think the photo is interesting.

Anyways, here is a post on the DX FX subject.  I have to update the table though, because it's missing some stuff from the very wide angle, but it's still useful IMO.

Have fun, kids!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

How to shoot a time-lapse video

This is a tutorial on how to shoot a time-lapse video.
All the goodies are after the jump:

Monday, 25 October 2010

DIY external power for Nikon DSLRs

Warning!: This is quite risky, and it could damage your expensive equipment, so if you are not confident about what you are doing, DON'T DO IT. I am not responsible for any damage your equipment might suffer.

If you don't want to mess around with your cameras, you can buy the official power adapters. For the D700 and D100 it's the Nikon EH5A, and the D200 it's the Nikon EH6. I dunno the rest.

With this, you can do all-night exposures, and days long time-lapses, and you don't have to spend any money on it if you are lucky.

The D100, D200 and D700 power supply is 13.5V, 5A. You can go a bit below this.
My power supply is 12V, 3A and it works perfectly. You might need a laptop power adapter or something that is similar.

I didn't want to cut the wires of the adapter, so I just taped my little cables to it. You have to check the polarity of the adapter, so you don't connect it backwards. I dunno what happens if you connect them the other way around, but I don't want to try it.

I just connected them, and used tape to hold them in place.

In this way, I can re-use the adapter if I need to.

I took the wires out from an old Dell computer. It's because they were wires that connected an LED with the mother board, so they had these square connectors to be able to fit them on to the motherboard's pins:


That thing fits perfectly to the pins of the camera's DC in connector.
If you can not find these, you can use some small crocodile clips.

The Connectors:

The D700 and D100 have the same connectors:

Click on the pictures to see them bigger.

The D200:

I don't know what are the connections on other models.

Now you just have to connect the pins to the cables and plug your adapter in!

Make sure you don't short any wires!!! This is common sense. I didn't try what happens if you do, but I suspect that it would mess your camera up.

As far as I observed, the DC power on the camera does not charge the battery, so you might as well just take it out.

There you have it!

And don't be stupid! one wrong move and you can trash your camera!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Best Ever

I'll post a photo every now and then. I took this on Saturday, with my girlfriend :)

Taken with a Nikon D200, 18-55mm lens @ 18mm, 1/2000 shutter and F/4.5 on a 10 sec timer. The camera was on the ground, and I put my phone under the lens to make the camera point up.

The photo haven't been processed besides a crop, and adding the signature in the corner.

Honestly, I was dumb enough to shoot it in JPG, so there is not much I can edit on it. Maybe that is the beauty of it... :)

UPDATE: We are married now:

Monday, 23 August 2010

How to make HDR images

Ok, I know it's not nice to say this, but hey, google it! There are millions of tutorials out there to teach you.

For example, here is one I find really useful: http://www.stuckincustoms.com/hdr-tutorial/
Or here is one. This guy knows his stuff: (this is NOT for lazy people) http://backingwinds.blogspot.com/2006/10/how-to-create-professional-hdr-images.html

I have done quite a lot HDRs, and there are things you need to look out for, for example to avoid "clown-vomit"(example), too much tonemapping, or the flat grey stuff. Also not everything has to be HDR to be amazing.

Good luck!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

How to shoot those happy people silhouette photos?

I bet you have seen lots of shots like this.
Here is how I took this photo:

Nikon D700

Manual exposure
Exposure Time: 1 / 1999
Flash did not fire
FNumber: 1.8
Focal Length: 50
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 50
ISO: 2500
Lens Model: AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D

The most important thing is that it have to be shot in the late afternoon/evening, or really early morning. This is because the sun is quite low, or even behind the horizon, like on my photo.

You want the light come from behind the subject, so shoot it facing the sun.

The way I did it, is I set ISO 2500 and 1/2000 shutter speed, with a wide open aperture.
I If you can not set such high ISO, shoot earlier, when the Sun is above the horizon, so you can still have really fast shutter speed. You need fast shutter, otherwise the subject is gonna be blurred.

If you don't want to capture a fast moving subject, you don't have to use such high ISO and shutter speed, just make sure you expose the sky correctly, so everything else is underexposed.

Another trick is to have the camera close to the ground, so it looks like that they jump really high.

I set a 10 second timer, metered for the sky, focused on a spot on the ground then put the camera down in the grass. We ran to the spot and jumped just on time.
If you are not planning to take a photo of yourself, you have to leave out the timer part, obviously.

My original photo was a bit under exposed though, so I lightened it up in Photoshop Camera Raw, hence the quite visible grain.

Here are a couple of other examples. These are not my shots:

Friday, 20 August 2010

How to export a standard PDF from InDesign

NOTE: This does not apply to CS4 and CS5 on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

You can read on, if you are old-school and rocking CS3 or older.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

FX DX focal length confusion (updated)

I was really confused about this subject.
First of all, I have a DX and an FX camera too, and I was told about the 1.5 crop factor whatever bla bla, which is fine, but I had a question which didn't seem to be answered anywhere really:

So, if I have a 18-70mm for my D200 (DX) then what lens should I buy for my D700 (FX) to cover the same zoom range?

Let me start from the beginning.
I have read THIS article on Ken Rockwell's website, which cleared up most of my confusion, but then i was still like: ???
I did lots of research, and I figured out that the best is, if I compare lenses by their angle of view, and not by their focal length.
This might be BS if you are a pro photographer, but I'm not one, and I find this solution the simplest.
I made this table, listing the focal length, and the angle of view at that focal length on full frame, and DX crop.
On the bottom of the pic there is an angle measure thing, just in case you need to see how wide are the angles that are listed.
The blue lines just indicate some of the angles that are (almost) identical, so you can see the equivalents of the focal lengths on DX and FX.

I hope it helps someone :)

UPDATE: Here is a Nikon Lens Simulator. This can help you to see the differences between FX and DX. You and "mount" any lens to any body, and check out the results. Really useful: