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.

May 2008

Posted May 27,2008

So you just bought a new digital camera and now you’re wondering what kind of SD or CF card to use in that slick little device. Should you stick with one of the major brand names, SanDisk, Lexar, or perhaps take a chance on a cheaper card without the name recognition?

My criterion for choosing a memory card is speed: how fast the image data can be written from the camera to the card. You’d think that we could just read and trust the data transfer speeds listed by the manufacturers—you can to a point.

Extremeducatisdplus But that point stops when you realize that a single top-rated card will vary in performance depending on the camera brand or model in which it’s paired. Fortunately, if you are looking for the fastest card and camera combinations, you need only look as far as Rob Galbraith’s recently updated CF/SD Card Database. He has posted speed tests on a number of major digital SLR camera and card combinations.

If you are looking to free yourself from one less digital doodad, try leaving your SD card reader at home on your next outing. I know 2-in-1 SD cards have been out for a while but I’ve recently discovered just how well they work. The convenience of being able to remove the SD card from the camera, fold the card back to reveal the USB tab, and directly insert it into the computer is brilliant, simple, and fast.

Ken Geiger 

Posted by Ken Geiger | Comments (9)
Filed Under: Digital Photography, Memory Cards, Photography Tips
Posted May 26,2008
"No land in America is more sacred than the square mile of Arlington National Cemetery."

It’s hard not to be changed after seeing a years worth of tears shed over the caskets of American soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. As an editor I had to distill tens of thousands of photographs, taken over the course of a year, which resonated sadness, honor, pride, reverence but most of all loss, into a story that we published in June 2007.

Regardless of what I witnessed in that photographic coverage, I still can’t reconcile the personal sense of loss in the eyes of Capt. Lisa Doring of the U.S. Marine Corps as she buried her husband, Capt. Nathanael James Doring, at Arlington National Cemetery, June 14, 2006.

What I can share this Memorial Day is a link back to those images, which I hope, pay homage to our servicemen and women of these United States of America.

Ken Geiger

Posted by Ken Geiger | Comments (3)
Filed Under: National Geographic
Posted May 24,2008

Capa_icp_2 Cornell Capa, Founding Director of the International Center of Photography and Life magazine staff photographer died in New York on Friday, May 23, 2008. “The world has lost a great photographer and a great humanitarian; the world of photography has lost its greatest friend and champion,” said Willis E. Hartshorn, ICP Ehrenkranz Director.

One of the passions of Cornell Capa’s life was a dedication to the example set by his brother, famed war photographer Robert Capa. Cornell Capa’s photographs and those of other photographers he championed, often reveal the richness of an ordinary person’s relationship with the world, encompassing everything from cataclysmic events to the subtle epiphanies of daily life. “It took me some time to realize that the camera is a mere tool, capable of many uses,” Capa wrote in 1963, “and at last I understood that, for me, its role, its power, and its duty are to comment, describe, provoke discussion, awaken conscience, evoke sympathy, spotlight human misery and joy which otherwise would pass unseen, un-understood and unnoticed. I have been interested in photographing the everyday life of my fellow humans and the commonplace spectacle of the world around me, and in trying to distill out of these their beauty and whatever is of permanent interest.”

Posted by Ken Geiger | Comments (4)
Posted May 14,2008


Last year about this time David Griffin, National Geographic’s director of photography, and Elizabeth Krist, a senior photo editor, walked into my office and asked if I had any ideas on how we could photograph Stonehenge in a way that would be new and different. It was a natural question. David was already thinking about high-dynamic-range photography, and I’m the digital-tech guy at the magazine. I had an idea, but it came with a catch—I wanted to be the photographer, anything to get out of the office and into the field.

Posted May 8,2008

Innovative "pinwheel" photo gallery design from thewhalehunt.org.

So you've made some great pictures and now you want to share them with the world?  There are many ways to do that and lots of photo gallery and slide show designs published on the internet to use as inspiration.  I asked my friend and colleague Jim Webb to share some web photography galleries that caught his eye.  He sent a group of links to photo galleries that can be created with a range of tools from free web software  through handmade creations designed and coded professionally.

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Filed Under: photography, Web/Tech
Posted May 2,2008

Reading the New York Times while riding the metro into work this morning, I had a flashback to my college days. Rochester, New York, in the late 1970s was dominated by a global powerhouse in photography — Kodak. I still remember driving around the outside of the Eastman Kodak plant looking on in jaw dropping amazement at the miles and miles of pipe that snaked with contorted twists and turns through the vast manufacturing facility, wondering what kind of chemical concoctions were being brewed into the next great film emulsion.

According to the NYT, the “Great Yellow Father” employed 145,300 people 20 years ago; in 2007 its ranks had dwindled to 26,900. Not surprising when you consider the tact taken when one of Kodak’s own electrical engineers, Stephen J. Sasson, invented the first digital camera in the 1970s.

From the NYT:

“My prototype was big as a toaster, but the technical people loved it,” Mr. Sasson said. “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute — but don’t tell anyone about it.’ ”

While I was learning the basics of chemical-based imaging at Rochester Institute of Technology, Kodak was quietly developing pixel-based photography. It’s ironic that 25 years after college it seems I owe Mr. Sasson a personal debt of thanks; his invention is the reason I now work for National Geographic magazine.

Thank you, Mr. Sasson!   

Ken Geiger 

Posted May 1,2008

Canon has posted a firmware update (Version 1.1.2) which, "Improves the stability of AF accuracy in AI servo AF when shooting extremely low-contrast subjects."


Dear photographers,

Wednesday April 30, Canon releases world-wide a firmware update to improve the autofocus performance of EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III in some shooting conditions and to add new features in personal functions.
Those improvements have been implemented thanks to the feedback provided by professional photographers.

For more info and to download the firmware, click on the links here after:


You will need your camera serial number to initiate the download of the firmware. For detailed instructions on how to install the firmware update click here.

Ken Geiger 

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