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Digital Photography Information

Birds of a Feather, Bosque National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio NM, February 1, 2010
Birds of a Feather, Bosque National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio NM, February 1, 2010

I've had an interest in digital photography for some time. I use this page to collect bits of information about digital photography and links to useful sites.

The online photography community

There are several sites that have developed into online communities around an interest in digital photography. Here are a couple. describes itself this way:

About is a site for serious photographers to connect with other photographers, explore photo galleries, discuss photography, share and critique photos, and learn about photography. The site began in 1993 as Philip Greenspun's personal home page at MIT and has grown to become a community of photographers that includes more than 675,000 registered users working to help each other improve. Our editorial goal is to serve busy readers who want clear answers to questions. When we review equipment, we do it from the perspective of "In what kinds of photographic situations would this be the right choice?" In building community, we value members who provide constructive criticism and helpful assistance to other members. Join the Community

I haven't spent enough time at to get a good sense of what the site is about. It seems to be a community of serious, perhaps professional, photographers sharing their work, critiques, and tips. It looks to have a good Buy and Sell section where you can swap, buy and sell bodies and lenses etc.

This is another site I need to explore a bit to see who it is directed at. It appears at first glance that is a commercial site offering online photo storage space and galleries and forums for photographers. | History in HD

This is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s.

Digital camera reviews

Sensor cleaning

Sensor Cleaning - Digital SLR Sensor Cleaning That Works For Me over at The Digital Picture offers an excellent explanation of sensor dust, cleaning methods and supplies.

Learning digital photography

How to photograph birds

I clipped this from Nasim Mansurov's excellent How to photograph birds post at the Mansurov's fine website. I suggest you read the rest of his excellent article.

The camera mode I use the most for my photography, including birding is "Aperture Priority". Nikon users are blessed with an Auto-ISO feature that automatically adjusts the ISO based on light conditions. You can set a minimum shutter speed, which can be set to a high number for bird photography and maximum ISO to retain the detail. This feature is very useful and I use it all the time, setting the Auto-ISO to on, maximum ISO to 800 on DX sensor and 1600 on FX sensor and minimum shutter speed to 1/800 of a second. The latest generation of Canon DSLRs also have the Auto-ISO capability, but it is not as versatile as Nikon's. When shooting in "Aperture Priority" mode, which I use the most, I set the Auto-ISO minimum shutter speed to 1/800 and shoot wide open, i.e. with a maximum aperture. The nice thing about shooting in "Aperture Priority" mode, is that if there is too much light, my shutter speed increases to a bigger number and if the light deteriorates, the camera's Auto-ISO feature increases the ISO and tries to keep the shutter speed at whatever I set it to. If the highest ISO is already reached and there is still not enough light, it will obviously decrease the shutter speed, while still keeping the exposure consistent. Another reason for using "Aperture Priority", is a quick ability to change the aperture of the lens to capture a bigger area and control bokeh. For example, if I'm shooting wide open at f/4.0 and standing close to a bird, my depth of field is very shallow and if I focus on the eye of the bird, I might not be able to capture its back or tail in full sharpness. By increasing the lens aperture to a higher value, I can increase the depth of field and capture the bird in full detail. I personally do not find "Shutter Priority" useful for bird photography, because I do not want my camera to set the aperture for me. Because I will be shooting at high shutter speeds, most likely the aperture will be always set to wide open, so I do not see the point of shooting in this mode. Worst of all, if the light conditions change instantly (let's say the bird moved from an open area to a shadowy branch of a tree), since the camera is set to "Shutter Priority" and therefore will always shoot at the predefined shutter speed, the image might come out underexposed, even with the Auto-ISO turned on.

I suggest you read the rest of this excellent article.

There is an excellent article at Deep Green Photography on {{|Setting Up Your New Canon 7D]] for in-flight bird photography.


Batteries and chargers

On keeping NiMH batteries in pairs

Some people recommend that NiMH batteries be paired off when you first get them, labeled, and then kept together and used in pairs. When new, check their voltage before charging them and pair cells that have about the same voltage before the first charge. It is said that if one NiMH is stronger than the other, they stronger cell is brought down to the level of the weaker cell and their useful life can be compromised. I haven't researched this in any detail but it seems to make intuitive sense and it certainly can't hurt to keep them paired.

Recycling old rechargeable batteries

Call2Recycle is a nonprofit program to collect and recycle rechargeable batteries used in power tools, computers, cell phones, cameras, and other small electronic devices. Drop off points can be located at their website. Many national retailers like Home Depot and Radio Shack participate in the program.

CHDK - the Canon Hacker's Development Kit

I have a couple of Canon pocket cameras, a Power Shot SD1000 Digital Elph and a Power Shot A720 IS, and an article, Supercharge Your Camera with Open-Source CHDK Firmware: Canon Cameras Only!!! at caught my eye. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Digital cameras have powers beyond what is immediately available to the user. On a standard Canon, for example, the fastest shutter speed option offered is 1/1,600 second, but the hardware can handle much more than that -- up to 1/60,000 of a second.

CHDK, the Canon Hacker's Development Kit, is an open-source software project that can be loaded on cameras using Canon's DIGIC II or DIGIC III firmware platforms. It unleashes new features including RAW file format, live histogram display, a battery readout, and the ability to run scripted actions on a camera.

CHDK does not replace the existing firmware on your Canon, so the process is completely reversible. The existing firmware stays intact, while the CHDK software is loaded on demand from an SD card.

That's interesting. I've run into products before where selected features are omitted from certain products in a line simply by disabling them in the firmware and that that can often be be hacked. Duh! Of course Canon is doing that too.

Off to CHDK Wiki I went to check it out, where I found this on their CHDK in Brief page:

Quick answers to 7 key questions about CHDK:

1. What is CHDK?

CHDK is not just one thing! The term CHDK refers to software – currently available free for many (but not all) Canon PowerShot compact digital cameras – that you can load onto your camera's memory card to give you camera greatly enhanced capabilities.

2. Am I likely to be interested in CHDK?

The enhanced capabilities that CHDK provides are most likely to be of interest to experienced photographers - if you believe that your Canon PowerShot camera already has more features than you will ever need, you probably won't be interested in CHDK.

3. Is CHDK safe to use?

Yes CHDK is safe. CHDK doesn't make any actual changes to your camera. If you delete the CHDK software from your memory card, or if you choose not to activate the CHDK software on the card (or remove and replace the batteries), then the camera will behave absolutely normally - nothing has been (or ever is) changed, so the warranty is not affected.

4. How does CHDK work?

CHDK makes use of the microprocessor that controls the camera (every digital camera contains a microprocessor) to act as a programmable computer that provides the extra capabilities.

5. What extra capabilities does CHDK provide?

The current set of extra capabilities fall into six categories:

a. Enhanced ways of recording images - you can capture still pictures in RAW format (as well as JPEG), and for video images you can have increased recording time and length (1 hour or 2 GB), and a greatly increased range of compression options.
b. Additional data displays on the LCD screen - histogram, battery life indicator, depth of focus, and many more.
c. Additional photographic settings that are not available on the camera by itself - longer exposure times (up to 65 seconds), faster shutter speeds (1/25,000 sec, and faster in some cases), automatic bracketing of exposure, etc.
d. The ability for the camera to run programs ('scripts', written in a micro-version of the BASIC language) stored on the memory card - these programs allow you to set the camera to perform a sequence of operations under the control of the program. For example, a camera can be programmed to take multiple pictures for focus bracketing, or take a picture when it detects that something in the field of view moves or changes brightness.
e. The ability to take a picture, or start a program on the memory card, by sending a signal into the USB port - you can use the USB cable to take a picture remotely.
f. The ability to do a number of other more useful (and fun) things, such as act as a mini file browser for the memory card, let you play games on the LCD screen, etc.

This barely scratches the surface - there is new stuff being added constantly. I haven't experimented with these hacks yet but I will when I get a little time. There are features enabled here I'd really like to have available on my cameras.

Tags: Photography