How I clean my lenses

February 8, 2012
My lens cleaning gear

My lens cleaning gear

I want to preface this with the fact that, a few years ago, I read something in the internet somewhere about cleaning lenses, and I believe I bought all the exact products recommended by said article, and I can NOT find it anymore in order to give that person credit. So if all these tools look familiar to you and you know who wrote that article, let me know, and I’ll gladly give them credit.

So. Yes. This is how how I clean my lenses. I’ve read other articles with mostly-similar, but not always the same advice (I’ll mention a few of those things here and there as I go). You can see all my tools above, and here’s what they all are:

  • Rocket Air Blaster – the link takes you to a black one because it is cheaper than the red one I have for some reason?
  • Lens Pen – link takes you to the Nikon Lens Pen pictured above, though a search for “lens pen” on amazon reveals other brands, some of which are cheaper
  • Pec Pads – advertised for photographic emulsion, they can also be used for lenses. This is the only thing on my list I may or may not purchase again, keep reading to see why I say that.
  • lens cleaner – I couldn’t find the kind I have on amazon anymore, but this one looks similar.

Now that you know all the products, let’s go over how I use them all!

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365 Projects: What to take a photo of today?

January 30, 2012
One of my favorite photos so far from this year's 366 Project

One of my favorite photos so far from this year's 366 Project

Four years have passed since I last did a photo-a-day-for-a-year project – often referred to as a 365 Project (many months have passed since I posted in here, too, I’m aware of that, but I’m ignoring that and jumping right into this topic). Because four years ago – 2008 – was a leap year, it was actually 366 Project for me. I’ve decided to make it a leap year tradition for me and do a 366 Project every four years. I know I’ve attempted projects of some sort every year since 2008, and have failed every one but the 52 photowalks I did in 2009, but I’m pretty confident I will succeed this year because:

  1. I’m motivated by the fact that I will only get a chance once every four years to do a 366 project (I realize, technically, I could take 366 photos a day in whatever year-and-a-day I would like, but you know what I mean), and, related…
  2. It’s been four years since I’ve done this so I’m not worn out from having just done this. I think breaks between projects are very important. Or maybe I’m just lazy?

Anyway. In 2008, I was doing 366 Self Portraits. What was I thinking? I have no idea! This was crazy-hard, but I was just learning my DSLR (in fact, I got my first one in February of that year), and I think having such a strict subject matter really helped me learn and be creative without being overwhelmed with also trying to figure out WHAT I was going to photograph.

This year, I have decided to really do a “Year in the Life of Iffles” idea. Each photo will represent just what I’m doing that day. Nothing will be staged (other than perhaps moving something around to help with lighting or composition), and at the end of the year it will be like I have a photo diary of 2012. It could turn out to be incredibly boring, but I don’t care!

I was talking about this with a friend and she asked me how I decided what to take a photo of each day, and I decided to let you all in on my strategy, which might also be considered some 366 Survival Tips for those of you also attempting this (somewhat insane) project this year!

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Wordless Wednesday

August 10, 2011
Which Way?

by mothman0 (click on photo to see in flickr)

All Wordless Wednesday photos are not taken by me, but are photos submitted to the iffles.com Monthly Themes group on flickr. Join the group to see your photo featured! August’s theme is Sky!

(And yes, I promise a real post soon!)


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Wordless Wednesday

August 3, 2011
Krka Falls

by Joe_R (click to photo to see in flickr)

All Wordless Wednesday photos are not taken by me, but are photos submitted to the iffles.com Monthly Themes group on flickr. Join the group to see your photo featured! July’s theme was Statues/Parks, and August’s theme is Sky!


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Wordless Thursday

July 21, 2011
Addo11 024 Landscape

by Peter De Klerk (click to go to photo on flickr)

All Wordless Wednesday photos are not taken by me, but are photos submitted to the iffles.com Monthly Themes group on flickr. Join the group to see your photo featured! July’s theme is Statues/Parks

(sorry I’m a day late, yesterday was John’s birthday, and I guess I got distracted!)


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A Quick Portrait Editing Trick

July 19, 2011
f/4.0; 1/13sec; 58mm; ISO 400

f/4.0; 1/13sec; 58mm; ISO 400

This is one of my quick tips that I haven’t mentioned before because I was afraid it was some sort of “fad” for me. I often find that I do some trick when editing that after a while I stop doing because I think it looks stupid. But I’ve been using this particular method for a quite a few months and I still try it on a lot of my portraits.

You guys know I usually like to describe what exactly is happening and why it works to produce a better photo. But to be honest? I don’t know the math behind this one or why it always seem to like how it looks on portraits. But… I do like it on portraits!

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Wordless Wednesday

July 13, 2011
Acadia

by rachel_pics (click to view in flickr)

All Wordless Wednesday photos are not taken by me, but are photos submitted to the iffles.com Monthly Themes group on flickr. Join the group to see your photo featured! July’s theme is Statues/Parks


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A Wedding Recap

July 11, 2011
A photo from the first wedding I shot

A photo from the first wedding I shot

As you all know, I was a second shooter in my first wedding back in March. For those of you that don’t remember the background, I was asked to help out a friend. I was incredibly nervous about it, as I think anyone should be the first time they shoot a wedding – it’s a big deal! You only get one shot!

I’ve already written about what I was doing to prepare for the shoot, but of course on the day of the wedding, I learned a few more Dos and Don’ts, so if you’re wondering how it all went, please, read on!

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Wordless Wednesday

June 29, 2011
2011-06-04

by bgottsab (click to view in flickr)

All Wordless Wednesday photos are not taken by me, but are photos submitted to the iffles.com Monthly Themes group on flickr. Join the group to see your photo featured! June’s theme is Doors/Windows. July’s theme is Statues/Parks


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Using G’MIC to Create Vignettes

June 24, 2011
f/4.0; 1/125sec; 105mm; ISO 800

f/4.0; 1/125sec; 105mm; ISO 800

In late 2009, I wrote a post about adding a vignette to a photo. I was never really happy with that post, and it has bothered me now for a year and half that I never wrote about a better option. Then, almost exactly a year later, I posted about the FIL Script (side note: I totally forgot about that script! I really liked it, too. I should use it more often), and I made a quick reference to the fact that if you wanted to use some of the grain options, you would have to download the G’MIC plug-in.

What I did not mention in that entry was that, after downloading that plug-in, I finally came full circle and was able to provide a way of creating vignettes that I’m much happier with. The concepts are the same as from my first post – either create a new layer with a black area set to overlay, or create a duplicate layer with a layer mask and make that layer darker somehow (don’t worry, if you’re confused, I’ll detail the concepts below).

The key that G’MIC provides is the ability to produce a radial gradient starting at the center of your photo without you having to eyeball. Now this seems to me that this is something that gimp really should provide for you out of the box, and I looked all over for it, and maybe I’m missing something obviously but I could never find it! Even if they do, and I am blind for missing it, there’s still a reason I’d use G’MIC, but I’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s see this in action…

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