Monday, March 26, 2012

The Fun of Collecting Photo Gear

How many times have you heard this from fellow photographers? “It is not the gear, it is the photographer”...

Yes, we all know that it is the photographer that truly makes the image. However, I have yet to see a photograph created with no equipment. We NEED our gear. Let’s face another reality. For some of us collecting all the gear is just plain fun! The gear might not make me a better photographer but it does do two things:

1. It gives me more options
  • I like the idea of traveling light but I also like the idea of having everything I could possibly need right there with me. The equipment should be used to give us photographic options. I have a motto. “It is better to have and don’t need than to need and don’t have.” I take everything to a wedding or portrait shoot. Most of it may remain in my vehicle or in a room at the church and will never be used. However, in the off chance that I need the extra equipment I have it available.
  • There is a caveat here though. Unless you really know your equipment too many options can be disruptive. You have to know your gear.
  • Here is an exception: If I going on a hike or photo walk I am a bit more weight conscious and try and travel as light as possible. For me the lighter I travel the more I photograph.

2. It satisfies my techie side!!
  • This may not be common knowledge to most of you but I am a geek… Shocking I know.  I try and keep my ear to the technology rail and I watch the rumor sites daily to see what new and cool gear may be coming out to help me with my photography.
When all is said and done collecting gear is part of what makes photography fun and it is OKAY to say so!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hanging with the Frogs

1/160 @ f/8
Most of you know I live near the Everglades National Park.  Well, last night I loaded the family up at about 8:00pm to head deep into the Glades at the prospect of photographing some tree frogs.  There are a couple of trees at one of the simple pull offs that were rumored to be loaded with the little rascals after dark.  I am very happy to report that those rumors were VERY true.

I knew that the light would be nonexistent so I decided to take a portrait lighting set up.  I brought a light stand, umbrella, and a flash (outfitted with Pocket Wizards for remote triggering).  There were a few challenges capturing these images but with a little patience I was able to overcome them.  The challenges included trying to get the camera tripod set up just right for the images, shining a light on the frogs to allow for focusing, getting the off camera lighting set up (very interesting in tight quarters with an umbrella), and swatting mosquitoes.  If you managed to get all that set up and working it was just a matter of moments before the little guys decided to jump to another location.  Normally I would have my wife help but we brought our son (who's 3).  It just didn't seem like a good idea to let him run free in the Everglades at night...  eh, call me an over protective father.

1/160 @ f/7.1
I used my Nikon D700 with a 105 f/2.8 macro lens.  The hardest part was dealing with the lack of light and the shallow depth of field when shooting macro.  Always remember, the closer you are to your subject the more compressed the depth of field becomes.  If you are shooting normally you know that an f/8 aperture gives you a considerable amount of DOF.  When you are shooting macro and you are very close to your subject the same f/8 will produces a very shallow DOF.  The images you see here were all shot between f/7.1 and f/8.  Just look at how everything in front of the eyes and everything behind the eyes falls quickly out of focus.

1/160 @ f/8
This was a great place to go.

Remember, if you ever have any questions shoot me an email or give me a call.  You may not be the only one with the question and perhaps I can answer it with a blog post.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Take the Camera with You!

I often have to remind myself to take the camera with me...  After all, it is really hard to take photos without a camera.  Today I was headed out the door to visit a local airport for recurrent training and I decided to through my camera in the truck.  While leaving the airfield I noticed the thunderclouds in the background and this beautiful yellow tree in the foreground.  It was the stark contrast that caught my attention.  I hopped out of the truck and took a few frames.

Here is what I got.  Notice how the tree is positioned.  I am using the rule of thirds by placing the branches in the upper left third of the image.  This works because the tree itself is extending out to the right and causes the eye to move.

For post processing I used a little bit of Nik Software (pro contrast, tonal contrast) and Lightroom 4 to really bring out the dark clouds and I put a slight vignette to draw the eyes even more to the tree.

In the end...  I am GLAD I took my camera!!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Punishing Pixels!!

Often times we photographers get set in our ways and we feel that the way we do things is the only way.  I get that way myself at times.  I was out today just walking around a field and I came across this old wagon.  I think old wagons are like railroad tracks...  If you have a camera and you come across them you just have to shoot.  Why?  I have no idea!...  Anyway, the one at the top is where I finished up on my initial post processing.  Since pixels are both free and made to be punished I chose to go all out!!!  I even used a texture I picked up off the top of the wagon to overlay.  I don't normally do things like this but I find it fun and interesting to go out on a limb once in a while.  I do like both images and each does have it's own feel.

Photographers should not be locked into one way of doing things.  Great painters didn't become great by simply doing what all the other painters were doing.  They had to find their own voice and expressions.

Don't be afraid to use Photoshop or plugins...  After all, the only real criticism you will get will be from other photographers.  The general public loves this kind of stuff (sort of like HDR).  Besides, in the end if you hate what you did you can simply hit the delete key and never see it again.

Disclaimer:  These images were copied from the originals before being processed...  No pixels were harmed in the making of this blog!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lightroom 4 Introduction Video

Below is a video introduction to Lightroom 4.  This introduction is based on my first impressions and only pertains to still images.  LR4 has the capability of working with video but I do no have any experience with that portion yet.  All and all this is a solid program worth looking at for an upgrade or initial purchase.  Adobe will allow you to upgrade to LR4 for 79.00 regardless of what previous version you have.  Way to go Adobe.  On top of that if you do not have a previous version but you are considering it the prices is 149.00!!!!  That is half the price of LR3 upon release.  It looks like the lowering of Aperture 3 in Mac App Store had an effect.  As always should you have any questions feel free to drop me an e-mail or even call.  Thanks again and stay tuned!!!!