Obi-Wan's Photography Pages

About Me

(Prairie Rim Images) I currently have several photo galleries online. I've just setup a commercial site at Prairie Rim Images where you can buy prints or other objects emblazened with your favorite photos. The associated blog is where I post most of my new tips and tutorials. On the non-commercial side, I update my Flickr gallery more often, but my Photo.Net gallery contains some of my earlier photos that I never copied to Flickr. Please visit any of them and let me know what you think of my work, whether it's good or bad.
Obi-Wan-YJ's items
Visit Obi-Wan's photostream
Due to my affinity for old, manual equipment, my gear collection is constantly growing. Here's a list of what I've accumulated so far, as well as a few items that I'd really love to get someday. (Full Camera Bag)

Whenever I happen across a useful web page out in the wild, I add a link to it on this page so that all the world can benefit from my good treasure hunting fortune -- and so that I can find the page again myself from a different computer.

Educational Pages

The following pages aren't so much about me personally. They were written to help educate the general populace about a particular subjct or to document a particular modification that I've made. I'm a died-in-the-wool engineer, so I'm handy with fixing things. I also have a master's degree in computer science, specializing in image processing, and have been a professional computer programmer and system administrator for the last 20+ years, so I do have some expertise in the following areas. Hopefully these pages will help others learn a little more about the technical side of photography.

Good room lighting at a party or family gathering can make a huge difference in the quality of the photos that you bring home. When the event is confined to a single room, such as a child's birthday party or Christmas morning, it only takes a little bit of prep work to set up a simple lighting arrangement that will give great results. (Living room)
Macro photography is a fun area. While you can certainly get great results by buying thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment, you can also do a lot by using more general purpose equipment with a few modifiers. I created this list a while back to document the various equipment configurations I have and how they perform for macro work. (Tulip)
Image quality is important to me, and since I am starting to amass quite a collection of lenses, I wanted to do an exhaustive test of them to see which ones performed the best. This test isn't completely scientific, but it does a pretty good job of showing what each of my telephoto lenses (70mm or longer) is capable of. (Opteka 500/8)
I've seen quite a wide variety of image quality out of the various 50mm ("normal") lenses that cross my path. I've developed some gut instincts about which lenses perform better, but I wanted some concrete data. This page shows resolution test chart images at every full aperture stop for 15 different lenses which cover the 50-55mm range. (Resolution Chart)

This 150KB PDF contains a chart showing the depth of field provided by a variety of focal lengths, focal distances, and aperture sizes. It's very handy for determining how big an aperture you need to keep a range of subjects in focus.

If you have any interest in digital photography, you're going to be generating a fair bit of electronic data in the form of images. Since any number of things can bring about the disappearance of data from your computer's hard drive, I wanted to describe my recommendations for backing up your computer. People who refuse to do even basic backups and then expect my help and sympathy when their hard drive dies annoy me to no end.

One of the biggest advantages of digital photography is the ease with which you can modify the image after it is taken. Perhaps the most fundamental concept people should know to help them in postprocessing is how to use a histogram. (Histogram)

I see a lot of people throw around terms relating to image resolution while obviously having no clue what they're talking about. Understanding the basics of image resolution will not only help you get better quality prints, but will also keep you from sounding like an idiot (and recognize those who do).

Strobist rocks! I've fallen in love with using cheap, old, shoe-mounted flashes (located off camera) to light my photos. I recently did a presentation to my local photo group on the basics of off-camera flash. You can view the PDF slides from that presentation here.

I love old things. This includes old lenses, old subject matter, and old-looking results. Perhaps that's why I love black and white photography. This page contains my tips for taking and producing better black and white photos. (Andy On Tracks)
I enjoy shooting photos of fireworks on the Fourth of July. Heck, I enjoy shooting off fireworks, too. The former is a little more complicated than the latter, so I decided to share a few of my tips and techniques for those just getting started. (Oak Lake, 2009)
Postprocessing is a wonderful crutch that most digital photographers have learned to lean on. A skillful computer operator can make a crappy photo acceptable and a mediocre photo pretty good. That takes time, though. The more photos you take, the less postprocessing you want to do. Getting it right in the camera is definitely faster. Here are a few things I learned from an event I shot where postprocessing was simply not an option. (Brenden Stai and friends)
I do a lot of shopping for old, used, manual camera lenses at garage sales, pawn shops, and classified ads. There were an unbelievable number of third party lens manufacturers thirty years ago, and they produced equipment with a wide range of quality. Any time I research a lens for which I have trouble tracking down useful information, I try to note my findings on this page so that it's not so hard to find next time. (Pentax Suitcase)

DIY Modifications

Most of the topics discussed in this section require the use of a tiny screwdriver. If that idea excites you, read on.

The Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 macro lens has been produced for decades, and has a well-deserved reputation for being a wonderfully sharp and well-built lens. Its one drawback is that it does have a tendancy to leak oil onto the aperture blades, leaving them stuck in place and unwilling to move when you turn the aperture ring. Here's how to clean them. (Aperture Blades)
Strobist rocks! I've fallen in love with using cheap, old, shoe-mounted flashes (located off camera) to light my photos. One popular old workhorse flash is the Vivitar 283. Alas, it doesn't have manual power settings in stock form. Here's how to add manual power control to it. (Vivitar 283)
The Canon 430EX flash is a great little flash for those who want a reliable, fully automatic flash, but can't justify the cost of the larger 580EX. Unfortunately, the most annoying feature of the 430EX is that the head will only rotate 90 degrees to the right. By spending a little time with some screwdrivers and a Dremmel Tool, the head can be allowed to rotate as much as 160 degrees to the right. A similar procedure works on Nikon flashes like the SB800. Here's how to do it. (Rotated Head)
PC sync plugs are a notoriously expensive and unreliable method for triggering flashes, and many speedlight flashes are limited to just a hot shoe for their trigger connection. A growing number of people are now starting to use 1/8" (3.5mm) miniphone audio plugs to do this job. Audio cables are cheap, plentiful, and reliable. Many radio triggers come with miniphone plugs, but very few flashes have followed suit. Consequently, I've added my own 1/8" jacks to several of my flashes. Here's how to install them. (Dual Sync Jacks)


The following are some books on photography that I recommend or plan to read:

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last updated 3 May 2012
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