Digital Photography
Every year, more than one million photographs captured in some of the harshest conditions on the planet arrive at National Geographic magazine. From our trials and tribulations, learn how to conquer your own digital photography challenges.
Posted Mar 5,2009

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Posted Feb 21,2009


The international jury of the 52nd annual World Press Photo Contest have selected a black-and-white image by American photographer Anthony Suau as World Press Photo of the Year 2008. The picture shows an armed officer of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department moving through a home in Cleveland, Ohio, following eviction as a result of mortgage foreclosure. Officers have to ensure that the house is clear of weapons, and that the residents have moved out. The winning photograph, taken in March 2008, is part of a story commissioned by Time magazine. The story as a whole won Second Prize in the Daily Life category of the contest.
Jury chair MaryAnne Golon said: “The strength of the picture is in its opposites. It’s a double entendre. It looks like a classic conflict photograph, but it is simply the eviction of people from a house following foreclosure. Now war in its classic sense is coming into people’s houses because they can’t pay their mortgages.

Follow this link to view the rest of this years World Press photo contest winners.

— Ken Geiger

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Filed Under: photography, Photography Contest
Posted Feb 13,2009

Polk "It’s rare for a day to go by in which the president of the United States is not seen in multiple newspaper and magazine photographs. The “clack” of shutters and the accompanying burst of light from camera flashes is part of every public event involving the chief executive. The first photograph of a U.S. president was taken on this week in 1849 — when James K. Polk, America’s 11th president, posed for his picture just before the end of his term in office. The photographer was Matthew Brady, whose extensive coverage of the Civil War would later make him famous. Today, 173,000 Americans make their living as photographers."  —U.S. Census Bureau

Daguerreotype by Matthew B. Brady, February 14, 1849

Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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Filed Under: photography
Posted Dec 10,2008


I case you missed last weeks announcement of Nikon’s new flagship DSLR, the full frame D3X, here a few of the important stats.

  • FX-format CMOS image sensor with 24.5 effective megapixels.
  • Low noise from ISO 100 to ISO 1600.
  • Near-instantaneous shutter release time lag of approx. 0.04 second.Nikon_d3x_back
  • 5-frames-per-second continuous shooting in full frame format and 7 fps in DX crop mode.
  • Live View mode for shooting hand held and with a tripod.
  • High-resolution 3-inch VGA-size LCD monitor with tempered glass.
  • Intelligent power management that allows you shoot up to 4,400 frames on a single battery charge.
  • Estimated selling price of $7999.95—available in December 2008.

For a full rundown on the camera, take a look at Rob Galbraith’s review.

Ken Geiger

Posted Oct 8,2008

Yesterday saw the release of the first major update of Expression Media 2 (the Microsoft version of iView MediaPro) and many of the bugs that have annoyed the photographic staff at the magazine for the past few years are gone in this latest version. The Expression Media Service Pack 1 contains 400 bug fixes but here are the highlights I've noticed since I started using it.

Camera Metadata (EXIF) Is Saved on Image Conversion: We frequently use Expression Media 2 to rip JPEGs out of RAW files and iView loses the EXIF metadata upon conversion. This was a major headache and I am glad it is now possible to go from RAW to JPEG and retain the critical capture date & time as well as all of the camera information including ISO, white balance and lens.

Long file names: Long file names like MM7665_080808_45332_SkyDomeBlue-000001.NEF used to confuse iView and cause the program to lose track of where an image was located, create junk characters in the file name or prevent a user from resetting the path to a particular image. Thankfully, this bug is fixed and photographs with long file names don't break anything.

Geo-tagging: It still is rare that photographers send lat/long metadata embedded in photographs but now when they do it will be as easy as clicking on Window/Show Virtual Earth to see on a map where the images were created. I tested this today with old photographs from Nick Nichols and I was able to see exactly where he was making pictures in Africa. That 3D globe view is so good -- it was almost as if I were there!

There are still improvements that I hope are made soon that will improve our work at the magazine and also help photographers who use the software. Suggestions at the top my list are:
+ add on-screen notifications of changes made to photographs
+ improve the rename-on-import options for photographs
+ provide better feedback when notifying the user about what the program is doing and has completed
+ improve the import options to provide a chance to import and copy to a new location
+ provide an option to "stack" images to combine RAW + JPEGs as one.

There is clearly room to grow but this update is much appreciated. To get the full list of improvements in this service pack and for directions on updating the software check out David Sayed's blog.

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Filed Under: Software, workflow
Posted Oct 7,2008


What would you do if you had one wish to change the world, and you were given $100,000 to make that wish a reality?

James Nachtwey, one of the most highly regarded photojournalists of our time, was given that chance when he was awarded the 2007 TED prize. He used the prize
money to translate his peerless journalistic vision into stunning images, in an effort to raise awareness of a virulent, mutated strain of extremely drug resistant

Mr. Nachtwey’s coverage spans the globe and will hopefully raise the profile
of XDR-TB. The photographs are as haunting as they are beautiful and can be
viewed at

Ken Geiger

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Filed Under: Current Affairs, photography
Posted Oct 6,2008


Most of my day is spent researching stories, editing, attending meetings, or unraveling digital work-flow issues. So when I have the chance to get out of the office, explore a new city, the embers of a stifled photographer start to smolder. Paris was the first stop on my way to Photokina, in Cologne, Germany.

Never having spent any time in the City of Lights, I was eager to take in all the prime destinations—Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower—and of course not take one photograph simply to prove I had arrived. I wanted to try and make a few images, postcards using Paris as the inspiration, yet play and enjoy the compositions, art, and architecture as they were segmented momentarily in my viewfinder. 

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Filed Under: Digital Photography, photography, Photography Tips
Posted Oct 3,2008

Extremeducatisdplus_3 I’m a real creature of habit, especially when I find some little piece of gear that makes my life as a photographer easier. To that point I recently learned some sad news, one of my favorite products has been slated for EOL.

Well I didn’t know what EOL was either, I had to ask—it stands for end of life. SanDisk is ending production of its SD and SDHC Plus line of memory cards. In an earlier blog I pimped the benefits of not having to carry around a card reader and cables, because the SD Plus memory card folds in half and plugs directly into a USB slot.

Seems putting a SDHC and USB controller on one of these convenient little cards makes them slightly more expensive, and so I deduce not as palatable to the thrifty shopper. For me the couple extra dollars is worth the convenience of have not having to drag around a card reader on vacation.

If you like these memory cards, get your fill while supplies last, because after the end of the year they may be as rare as hen’s teeth.

Ken Geiger

Posted Sep 18,2008


Addressing the concerns of many professional photographers who want to love the M8, Leica has introduced a second iteration of their digital rangefinder—the M8.2. The most notable of the many enhancements is the dramatic reduction in shutter and winder noise. Not only is the camera operationally quieter, the reworked shutter gives the camera a much smoother feel—harking back to the M4 experience.

M82_top_160_wrap The M8.2 also targets the new less experienced Leica user with the addition of a snapshot mode, where the camera controls all the key settings needed to create the perfect exposure.

The Leica M rangefinder has always been a pleasure to use and a brilliant tool for discreet reportage. Version two of the M8 certainly sets this camera back on the path forged in 1925, a path that changed modern photography.

For more information on the M8.2 check out the Leica website; it also has details on how you can have your current M8 upgraded to the functionality of the M8.2.

Ken Geiger

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Filed Under: digital cameras, Digital Photography, technology
Posted Sep 17,2008


The professional community has been eagerly awaiting news of the EOS 5D replacement, and today the long anticipated full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II was unveiled. The 5D was first released in 2005 with a palatable price point; its low weight and full frame sensor have made it a favorite tool for many National Geographic photographers.

The 5D MK II comes with an even larger CMOS sensor, 21.1 megapixels, 3.9 continuous frames per second, and an expanded ISO range compliments of the new DIGIC 4 processor. Live-view video can be captured at 1920x1080 pixels (30 frames per second) with stereo sound and individual clips lasting 4GB—about 12 minutes.  As an added benefit, still frames can also be captured while HD video recording is in progress!

Canon has even lowered the price of the 5D MKII to $2,699, with arrival scheduled at the end of November. More 5D MKII images and details after the jump.

Ken Geiger

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