How to Prevent GAS “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”

November 25, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you have been enjoying your week. By the time this Blog is released it will be in the Holiday season! And what better time to buy gear right? Today I want to talk about something I don’t really have any business talking about is how to prevent having gear acquisition syndrome or GAS.  I have been caught in the lure of bright shinny things in the past and have seemed to buy everything under the sun related to photography gear.  But after the last 4 or 5 years I have come under the conclusion that I don’t need the newest and greatest thing since sliced bread every time something new comes out.  It has been a hard realization and I have downsized my gear to what I think is the essential gear that I need for the types of photography that I enjoy doing.  My journey in photography started in the 70’s and had continued in some shape or form since then.  I have bought my fair share and probably your fair share of photography equipment as my journey has evolved.  I have bought everything from studio strobes to Big full frame DSLR’s and all of the top lenses to go with them.  I have got all of the cool accessories and gadgets that someone talked me into.  Why? Probably because I thought if I got the same camera as my photography hero at the time had I could shoot photo’s like him/her.  Did I? No.  I was still the lousy photographer that I was without the shiny gear.  I just learned how to operate more stuff.  Now if you have the disposable income then go for it but if you're like me and don’t this is what I think you should do with all the money you were spending on new and shiny equipment.

Limit yourself to one camera item per year. Lens or camera body. Use it for a year and really learn it before looking for something new. First of all if you have a fairly new camera body whether its a DSLR or a mirrorless one you don’t need another one.  Your may want one but you don’t need one! It won’t make you a better photographer it will make you a poorer one.  Don’t get me wrong you need a good body but it doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest. Especially if you are only a stills photographer. Most of all of the new advancements in camera’s in the last 5 years is in video and fast focus.  If you shoot sports or wildlife where fast focus is important than a newer body may be what you need. But remember people shot sports and wildlife with film and manual focus.  If your shooting anything else the camera you have is fine.  I personally don’t buy new camera’s when I upgrade for a couple of reasons. I don’t need all the new stuff for what I shoot and it’s cheaper.  I shoot with  cameras that are both over 5 years old and they work great for me. Now lets talk lenses. Lenses  last forever! Buy one good one and you don’t need another in that focal length. Buying used is the way to go you can get a great lens for less than the new one and it will be great. When buying used I suggest a company that specializes in photography gear like MPB.com or KEH.com I have bought and traded with both and have been nothing but satisfied with what I bought at a good price. All the items are tested and inspected and rated on their condition.  The better the condition the more they cost but still considerably cheaper than new.  So now you have bought your one item this year a camera body or lens now what to do with all of that extra money? 11-sony-a630011-sony-a6300

I would suggest spending it on training or travel. I would also suggest joining some sort of camera club. Check in your surrounding area and there may be a club you can join and go on workshops and outings and really learn a lot.  That’s what I did.  I joined a club over 10 years ago and my photography has got so much better and you get to talk to like minded people about photography.  I cannot recommend this enough. Travel , Sometimes to get those great shots or vista’s you have to go where they are. You can’t get them from sitting at your house or just staying in your home town. Although there are 22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n great shots around home traveling to a new environment really wakes up the creative juices.  I have been traveling more this year and have had a great time and got some great photo’s to boot. Training and Travel will make you a better photographer more than new gear. Joining a club whether its in person or online will make you a better photographer because it will give you techniques and challenges that you never thought of before. Making you a better photographer. Learning new editing techniques and shooting techniques is easily found in a club and annual dues are probably cheap and you’ll meet great people who maybe want to learn something from you. Any kind of training whether its a paid workshop or Creative Live or YouTube content is a great way to be a better photographer. 

Gear is great and its taken me a few decades to figure out that its not what makes a great photo. You are what makes the great photo. I went on a _MSP1594_MSP1594 trip to Boston this year for 4 days . Two of those days I was using a full frame camera with great lenses the other two days I was using a point and shoot camera. I took just as good photo’s with the point and shoot as I did with the Big Boy camera. It just took a little effort and the actual shooting was the same.  We all like nice gear but we don’t need to go out and buy the next best thing when our camera is awesome that we already own.  Becoming a better photographer takes time and shooting lots of photo’s.  The more you shoot the more you learn and the better you get. So until next week get outside and shoot!

 


Is your Camera Customized to you?

November 18, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope everyone is doing well this week. This week is about customizing your camera to you.  If you have a modern camera there are many ways to customized your camera to the way you shoot and the way you like to have things organized. Now I can't go into specifics of every camera because they are all different but they can all be customized in some way to make , making pictures more easy.  First I will go over how I have one of my camera's set up to shoot. I wouldn't expect anyones else's camera to be like mine. Yours should be your configuration unique to you. The camera I'll tell you about is mainly used for street, product and almost anything but my landscape and wildlife stuff which I use another camera.  I only shoot prime lenses on this camera so no zooms. I have many customizable buttons on my camera and I'm guessing you do too. Lets go over those first.  My C1 button I have programed to toggle between mechanical shutter and electronic shutter. If I get in a situation where I need the quiet I can just push this button without fumbling through the menu's trying to find it.  My C2 button turns the touch screen on and off. I am a left eye dominate shooter which means my nose touches the back display and if touch screen is turned on my nose will change the focus.  This button lets me keep this feature off until I want it like doing focus stacking where I can touch where i want it to focus and snap.  My C3 button toggles between eye autofocus and animal eye focus.  This stays on people most of the time but if I come to a dog or cat I can press this button and it will focus on the animals eye.  My C4 button is to toggle between regular shooting and Super 35 ( crop sensor) mode. In this mode if I'm shooting a 35mm lens and I need a little reach real quick I can press this button and it will crop 1.5 times making this lens to shoot like a 50mm. This comes in handy while shooting street stuff when you see things and don't have time to change your lens.  As you can see these 4 buttons have been customized to how I shoot. You may have totally different things to put here that fit your style of shooting.  Doing any changing will take some reading the camera manual and googling how-to do whatever your planning to do. Don't feel bad about googling I have to do it all the time and sometimes looking at a how to video or a step by step procedure is a great help. Here are some other things to think about while customizing your camera.

Mode and Custom Settings.  If you have an advanced camera you will have a dial that has M,S,A,P ,Auto, Scene, movie and maybe custom set up. So there are many modes to shoot from. Manual , Sutter Priority,  Aperture Priority, Program, Auto or Scene.  Some people shoot in manual all of the time. Me I shoot in Aperture Priority 90% and Manual when on a tripod or at night. There are usually custom settings that you can use that might be on a M1 or 2 that you can set up the settings that you shoot when you shoot manual. So if you're shooting in Another mode and you want to quickly go to manual you can put on M1 where you put your favorite setting so you can have a quick start.

ISO- Manual or Auto. In Manual you pick what ISO you want. In Auto the camera can decide and you can set limits that the camera can't go past. For me I shoot in Auto most of the time but I have a range between 100-1200 ISO.  You can change the range anytime you want and get your camera set so it shoots the best for your camera.

Focus- Focus is a big one do you want to single focus on one spot or mutable spots.  Do you let the camera pick or do you pick. Do you do continuous focusing? What about back button focusing where you focus with a button on the back of your camera . Lots of decisions to make to make it easer for you to shoot the way you shoot and what you shoot.  I shoot continuous most of the time and back button all of the time. If I need to pick a point I can turn on my touch screen and pick one or can use my joy stick on the back of the camera to pick.

White Balance.  Do you choose or do you let the camera choose?  If you shoot in RAW you can change later if you don't like it.  Do you custom white balance which is done mainly for portraits to make sure you get the skin the right tone. Depending on what and how you shoot this could be different for each person.  I shoot in Auto and Raw so I can make changes in post 99 percent of the time if I'm taking a portrait I'll use a gray card or a color checker passport so in post I can dial in the correct white balance.

Card slots? If you have two card slots how are you going to use them. Will they be used to make duplicates on separate cards or is one card set to be a overflow incase one fills up?  Or do you shoot RAW + JPEG Raw on one card and JPEG on the other.  Thats what I shoot it gives me a backup but doesn't take as much space then I can shoot in a special mode say Black and White and my JPEGS will be black and white but my RAW will have the full color.

Customizable Menus .  If you have customizable menus you can put the things that you change the most in this special tab and you can get to them quickly.  I have a function button on the back of my camera that brings up 8 things that I can choose from the menu for quick reference. I also have a tab in the menus for Favorites where I can put important stuff.  Like Format so I don't have to search for it I know its the first item in my Favorites tab.

As you can see there are many things that you can do to customize your camera to you.  When you get your camera customized to you the camera is easier to use and you can concentrate more on photography not settings on your camera.  I'm always customizing mine trying to make it easier to use and I'm always finding new and interesting things about my camera that I didn't know. I have another Sony camera body but it's quite different and all the buttons are not the same.  But I try to make it as close to this camera so its familiar when I use it and don't have to relearn it. You've spent a lot of hard earned money on your camera make it work for you and customize it to you.  Until Next week Get outside and Shoot.


My thoughts on Street Photography

November 11, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! I hope you had a great week.  This week I want to talk to you about Street Photography and what it means to me. Now I shoot many kinks of photography but mainly Landscape/Travel. But I do love Street photography. Especially in a locale that I haven't been before. I love walking the streets and seeing what I can capture.  There are many forms of street photography.  I think there is portraiture , architect, casual, fine art, and many more. It can be a shoot from the hip to get the shot or right in your face to get the shot.  There are many different styles and ways of doing street Bartender waiting for Customer BostonBartender waiting for Customer Boston photography.  The equipment used can be just an iPhone to one body and one lens.  It doesn't matter what type of camera equipment you use its the capture that is important. I have been reading a book. Yes a book!  The book is titled "Street Photography Assignments 75 reasons to hit the streets and learn" by Valerie Jardin.  It gives you assignments to do to grow your Street photography skills. The author only uses one lens and body for all of her work and her work is amazing!  So I have been trying to use some of the techniques that I've found in her book. To me Street photography is about exploring and documenting.  When I was growing up I remember looking at News Papers and Magazines with Man Waiting for T BostonMan Waiting for T Boston Black and White photo's in them and you could see the story in the photographs no mater what the subject was.  If it was a riot or if it was poverty or a sporting event.  To me that is what street photography is like. I'm not out to get a story or watch a sporting event I'm there to document and capture beauty and action and how life was in the moment and time I pushed the shutter button.  I am not the in your face kind of shooter when doing street photography I'm more of casual and lets just see what I can see and using the techniques that I'm learning maybe start to tell the story like those photo's I used to see.  Here are just a few of the techniques I try to use.

- Reflections .  I love me a refection.  I love to find a puddle of water in front of a cool scene and use it to my advantage. Or a window  or even a mirror of a parked car or building.   DD GirlDD Girl Reflections seem to open up the scene and zoom into the subject all at the same time.  This may be my favorite technique and I'm always looking for one.

-Selective Focusing and Framing.  I love to use a frame when I can find one.  A window , a fence anything that can be used to Isolate the subject and bring it out in a creative way. I have used the arm rest of park benches to do this .  Almost anything you can use you  just have to be creative.

-Silhouettes and Sunburst. Shooting into the sun or bright light to give the silhouette of the subject is a very cool shot.  Making a sunburst at the same time is even cooler. To make the sunburst you have to use a small aperture and catch the sun on the corner of something and you will create the sunburst.  Very Cool.

Struggling Biker BostonStruggling Biker Boston -Catching Day Walkers.  I love this technique you find an interesting back drop for you subject to walk through and just wait for people to come your in one place getting great shots.  Good to do while you're resting or taking a break.

-Shadows. Looking for shadows in a big city and make great photos.  You can have people coming from the dark shadow into the light you can have people waling in the light between shadows.

-Using different angles.  Looking up at a subject gives it a bigger than life appearance. Also looking down gives it a smaller appearance. Using all Points of view will give you more interesting photographs. Stairs and Shadows BostonStairs and Shadows Boston

These are just a few of the techniques that are in the book I mentioned above and as you can see these are basically advice or tips that can be used with all types of photography.  If you haven't done much street photography pick a town or small city to explore. Look at the downtown area it will be the most interesting.  Go with a friend and just explore see what you can see.  There is lots of stuff out there!  If you're like me Street photography will be a fun way to explore different city's.  This month I'll be traveling to Boston with some friends to do just that explore and have a good time with my camera.  So until Next week get out and shoot!


Pretty Pictures not good enough for Photography anymore!?

November 04, 2022  •  1 Comment

Hi Everyone! Hope you had a great week! This week I want to talk about the modern Photographer and how the role of Photographer has changed. Not too long ago if you wanted Pretty Pictures you called a Photographer to come and take them. You were assured that these photographs were well exposed and looked like the people or places you wanted represented. Pretty Pictures. If you lived in a small town like I did as a teenager (back in the 70's ) with the population of only 5000 there were only a few people that had SLR cameras and knew how to take Pretty Pictures with them.  So photography wise you were a Big Fish in a small town. And it was that way for decades before and after when I was a teenager. But then digital came about.  Smart Point and Shoot cameras and then smart phones, iPads, camera's everywhere in your computer even in your car when you back up. And they can all take Pretty Pictures and even video.  Everyone reading this has a smart phone in their possession that can take Pretty Pictures and do what it took hours of work to do for a Photographer in my day in seconds.  A perfectly exposed Light House StairsLight House Stairs photograph can be taken by anyone by pulling a smart phone out of their back pocket and "Click" boom there it is. Smart phones have come to the point where they can be used for professional work. For quick snapshots for the local paper, to real-estate Photography. The smart phone and point and shoots have changed the meaning of Photographer as we used to know it. So why do we as Photographer's keep buying big fancy camera's and lenses? We can take "Pretty Pictures" with our cell phones? Because there is more to Photography than just taking Pretty Pictures!

Goldsboro Fire HouseGoldsboro Fire House One reason is the joy of the experience of taking a photograph. If you take a long road trip its not really just the destination its the journey. To me photography is like that. I love the process of photography. Making a composition then deciding what aperture to put the camera at. What about shutter speed on moving subjects. Do I need a tripod for a longer exposure? I love this process even more than the final result. Its all the stops you make along the way (the journey) of taking the photograph. The act of not letting the algorithm of a smart phone decide for me what all of the settings should be and what the photograph should look like.

Another reason is taking photographs that aren't Pretty Pictures. Using your camera to take abstract art or light that you can't even see like infra The MetroThe MetroCommuters waiting for the Metro in Washington DC. red photography. Super long exposures of scenes that remove all of the people because they were walking by. Blurry photographs to show an emotion of a scene. These are all things that you can't do with your smart phone.

As you can see Photography is more than the end result. It is much more than how many likes you can get. Its more than the pretty sunset or sunrise or that beautiful waterfall. Its about experiencing the people and the places you go and how you got there or met them. Photography to me is a way to get out into the world and experience new things. Bringing a camera has gotten me out of the house and let me see things through a new DiceDice window. It has been a my Passport to the world.  It has led me to new friends and experiences that a smart phone would never do. It has changed me from a "living to work" mentality to "working to shoot or working to live" way of life. Photography, especially in recent years has shown me new places and things that I would have never got to do or see through my lens if I didn't have the fancy camera. 

Oops, I've gotten on a tangent again and started talking about me again. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you just want Pretty Pictures use your smart phone.  You will get a perfectly exposed photograph. But if you want to live the life of a Photographer don't take Pretty Pictures and get yourself one of those fancy camera's and start the journey of a lifetime of photography. Photography is one of the hobbies that you can do your whole life.  They can wheel you Wine glass SplashWine glass Splash outside while your at the rest home while you're clutching your camera and you can look up and take photos of the clouds. Being a Photographer is a life long journey.  So until next week get outside and shoot!
 


5 Mistakes that Beginner Photographers Make

October 27, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

  DCIM\101GOPRO Hey Everyone! Hope you had a great week! This week I want to talk about Mistakes we all have made in photography. Now I'm not talking about when your learning the exposure triangle but after your a pretty good photographer but still beginning.  Some of these mistakes have thrown me for a loop for hours of me trying to find out what in the world is going on.  Trying to blame on my camera when it was just me and something I have done or  not done. Hopefully after reading this if you do the dumb thing that I've done you'll recognize it quicker than I did. So here we go with the list of 5 mistakes.

1. Everything is blurry when I look through the camera. Have you ever been shooting and while your looking through the camera every thing looks a bit blurry but when you preview on the back of the camera or use Live View everything looks ok? Well this happens to me quite a bit and its easy to fix.  What has happened is that you have bumped your diopter adjustment on your camera.  It's the little wheel that is just beside the eyepiece of your viewfinder. It is used to make corrections for folks that use glasses if they aren't using them. It only effects the view finder of your camera. Simply look through the viewfinder and look at the settings on the screen if they are blurry simply move this dial until they are sharp and now everything will be sharp when you look through the view finder.

2.  I press the shutter but nothing happens. This happened to me when I first got a new camera.  I went to a festival and was going to shoot all of the interesting things happening there with my new camera.  When I first went into the festival and took that first shot and nothing happened. I turned on and off the camera to see if that would fix it but nothing.  I tried and tried and nothing. What had happened is I had accidentally pushed the button or dial in my case and put the shutter to a 30 second time delay. So when I pushed the shutter nothing happened.  It took me quite a while sitting on a bleacher at the festival trying to figure out the menu of my new camera to figure out what had happened.

3. I take the shot and it seems brighter or darker than usual. This one has happened to me and it actually has a few causes that will make your camera do this.

- The first one is that you accidentally hit the ISO button and put your ISO way too high causing the sensor to be way too sensitive to light than it needs to be and the photo or photo's turn out too bright. Yep I've done it shooting along at 400 ISO and all of the sudden I'm at 25000. I had hit the button on the back of the camera, I had to reassign that button because I did it so much. 

- The second reason is that I had accidentally put my camera in manual bracket mode.  In this mode your camera at each touch of the shutter makes one dark one light and one just right exposure. Usually when I shoot in bracket mode I have it on continuously make the brackets with one touch of the button. But in Manual it does one at a time.  I have shot like this for hours before I figured out what was happening. I eventually  looked at the back of my screen and made it where I could view a lot of the photo's at one time and I saw the pattern . One Dark, One just right, and one Bright.  Thats when I had figured out what I had done. Luckily it was only set to half a stop of light so I could recover my photo's in post.

-The third one is that I accidentally hit the exposure compensation one way or the other .  I usually figure this one out pretty much because I tend to use the exposure compensation quite a bit but it can happen.

4. Dead Battery or SD card full.  I have seen people do this quite a bit. Especially in the DSLR days when batteries lasted quite a while. You show up at the site and bam battery dead. Whats even worse is if you have a back up battery and haven't charged it you're really dead in the water. The best way to avoid this or a full SD card is preparation before you go to the shoot . Always make sure your batteries are charged and you have a fresh card in your camera. And always carry extra's with you.

5. Spots on your images. When you get home after a longs day shoot you're excited to get your images loaded onto your computer to view.  When you get there you notice that there are spots or a spot on your photo's.  Especially when  your stopped down to F11 or greater.  The sky has spots all in it. You need to clean your sensor! You have dust on it!  Keeping your equipment clean is something we must all do to keep our images clean. It is a simple as wiping down your equipment .  If your sensor is dirty you can clean it but if your too scared too ,take it to someone that you trust to do it like a camera shop.  With mirrorless cameras dust and dirt are more a problem than with old DSLR cameras because the sensor is right there when you change lenses.

So there you go 5 mistakes that we make while shooting.  They can all be avoided if we take the time to learn our camera's and keep them serviced  well. So until next week keep shooting and get outside!

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