Macro Photography for Beginners "Gear"

January 26, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone!  Hope you had a great week! This week I wanted to talk or share my thoughts on Macro Photography. Now I'm no expert and have recently acquired another Macro lens. I've had several over the years. But I've got one to add to my Landscape Photography Kit. So if I'm out and about and the light has gone bad I still can do some Macro Photography. Some really close up shots. So this blog will be mainly about gear. So lets start with the first question.

What is Macro Photography? Macro Photography is when the object size is the same size on the sensor or 1:1 Ratio or better.  So if your have a one centimeter object that your taking a photo of it will take up 1 centimeter on your sensor. What does all that mean? Not much to you and me except that you can focus real close. You can take photos of bugs and spiders and they take up the whole screen on your viewfinder without cropping the photograph to make it large.  When your shooting Macro you are shooting a whole new world that you can't usually see with your eyes or that you ignore altogether. Very Cool. 

What lens do I use to do Macro Photography. If you don't have a dedicated Macro Lens I would start with extension tubes.  Extension Tubes are put between your lens and a camera and let you focus closer.  They are inexpensive and don't have any glass in them so they won't effect the quality of your image. You can get a good set of three for under 50 bucks. You can use all three or stack them to get the effect you want. Macro Lenses come in a variety of focal lengths and price points. And as with everything in Photography you get what you pay for. But you can get some good gear on the cheap to start out.(Manual Focus Only) Remember these lenses can be used for other stuff too. A 105mm Macro is an excellent focal length for portraits and is used by many in the portrait industry for head shots. The focal length as it pertains to Macro Photography will determine your working distance to your subject. The longer focal length you will have more distance between you and your subject the smaller the less working distance. Make sure you put into consideration on the type of camera your are using. A crop sensor will have to multiply the focal length by 1.5 to get the working focal length. A 50mm will act like a 75mm on a crop sensor camera. 100mm seems to be the sweet spot for premium Macro lenses but they come in all focal lengths. But remember to be a true macro it must magnify at a 1:1 ratio no mater what the lens says on the side of it. Some cheaper lenses say they are macro but aren't they may get close to the macro ratio but not quite. I have owned a 105mm macro when I shot Nikon and it was a excellent lens I sold that one and eventually got an older 60mm nikon lens that was also a good lens  but when I got rid of all of my Nikon gear that was the last lens that I held onto and used an adapter to fit it to my sony cameras and used it quite a bit. I then sold it and was without for a while until I just purchased a used Sony 50mm f2.8 lens which I like very much. I have just started to play with it again that's why this blog was started.  These lenses can be expensive and I hear there are good third party lenses from companies like Tamron that make good ones. 

Accessories for Macro.  When shooting Macro photography the closer you get to a subject the more light you need. One of those Physics things. So to add light you can use artificial light like an LED light or a Flash. They make LED and Flashes that attach to the front of your lens and then go to your hot shoe of your camera. You can also just use a regular flash. Almost any will do you don't have to spend a lot of money on these because you will be using it in manual and not TTL. So you can use a basic flash that you can get for 60 bucks or so. A diffuser will also be handy to make that small flash look huge to the little object that you will be take a photo of. Now if you're going to be using your flash off camera you will need some sort of trigger  or cord to get the flash off camera. These can be inexpensive also.

Thats about all that you will need to shoot Macro and you probably have most of these things already in your photography arsenal. So get them out and dusted off and start using . My next blog on Macro will be about the how to do the macro shots not on gear. So until next week get out and start shooting.

Hiking and Walking to improve your Photography

January 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a great week. This weeks title might having you think that I'm a little crazy. And I am! LOL I think that the more Physically fit you are the better that you'll do everything. You think better and you don't get as tired on a long day. Now when we are in our 20's and 30's we really don't have to think about it but as we get older we do. Now I am no physical specimen I'm like every one else to big and out of shape. But I have been working on it and by the time this blog comes out I will have lost over 35 lbs and can hike or walk many miles without getting tired.  This is all due to me getting off of my butt and going for a hike. This morning me and Forrest the Wonder Dog went for about a 4-1/2 to 5 mile hike , the temp was perfect in the low 40's perfect hiking weather. While I was hiking I was thinking about this blog and what I wanted to talk about. If you know me I have just retired and your probably saying that you don't have time to hike or walk 3 or so miles a day. I am here to tell you that you can and I have done it with a full time job and commuting 3 hours a day. It can be done. I use to commute to work and worked pretty much in a cubicle but at lunch time instead of going Into the woodsInto the woodsIn the woods again. I used to hike. I used to hike a lot. About 4 or 5 years ago I was hiking a lot of miles, I could go up to 14 with a pack on my back in the mountains. Thats going up and down over rough terrain. Over a year ago I hurt my knee. As knee injuries go this wasn’t the worst that could happen to me but it was bad enough to keep me from hiking. They really can’t repair the problem unless it gets worse and have to replace the knee. And I’m no where near that yet thank goodness but I will have to deal with this knee problem. I have been taking short hikes with my hiking partner Forrest at the Cliffs of the Neuse. Little mile or two at a time and the terrain isn’t too awful bad at cliffs of the Neuse. Yesterday Me and Forrest went into the woods at Raven Rock State park and completed a 5 Mile hike. This was the first real test of my knee in a long time . The terrain is very rocky and uneven except for this level spot where we took this photo of us. Forrest was a great partner when he heard me huffing and puffing he slowed down and when I was doing ok he sped up. I had his leash clipped to my belt loop and was hands free of his leash (except for a couple of Squirrels) LOL This particular trail was the first time I hiked over 5 miles and after a couple of years I came back and didn’t know what all the fuss was about. It was not a piece of cake for me yesterday I had my camera gear with me (and extra weight My Belly) that I carried with me but we made it OK. I look forward to getting into the woods again. #MaxStansellPhotography #funwithphotography #getoutandshoot #awesomestuffisee #northcarolinaphotographer #northcarolinaliving #sonya6300 #alphashooter some where to eat I put on some walking shoes and started walking. Before long I had a three mile trek that I would do every day to get my steps in.  Just that little act along with eating properly and the pounds will come off. So what's the secret? Here's mine.

Walking or hiking and I prefer hiking because you use more muscles because of the uneven ground you have to keep your balance which uses more muscles. Its not about how far you go but how long you do it at a time. Walking an hour a day 4 or 5 times a week is great. The average hiker goes about 3 miles per hour but depending on the terrain I go anywhere between 2 and 2-1/2 miles an hour. On flat ground just walking I can get to 3 mph. So find you a track that is about 2 to 3 mile long and take a walk. Walking is therapeutic and slows your mind down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  During this hike you will burn about 350 to 400 calories .  If you eat healthy Low Carb and High Protein diet and Keep the Calorie intake down.  AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2Photographer: Anthony Thurston Count those Calories! The weight will come off. For me personally I have kept my calorie intake between 1500 and 2000 per day. I record everything I eat and suggest that you do to and after a while you'll know what you can eat and not eat. At first you will be hungry but your body will adjust and you won't be hungry. Stay the course!  If you burn more than you eat your body will use the fat that you have accumulated to keep your body engine running and the pounds will come off. I would suggest taking a multi vitamin once a day just incase your missing out on something  because of your diet. It might take a couple of weeks before things start to happen but they will and the pound will slowly come off .  I'm averaging 1 pound per week. I weigh myself every morning at the same time. Sticking to your new routine is the key and it will work. Thats the secret.

Here are some tips to Hiking and Walking. If your walking wear comfortable shoes. I wear Skechers. They are fairly inexpensive and are soft on my feet. If your walking on a sidewalk or street they will cushion your feet from the hard surface. If your hiking I would wear a more aggressive souled shoe for traction so you don't slip. I wear a pair of trail runners that I use for backpacking. While hiking I also use a hiking stick ,(trekking pole) to help with balance. They have more than once saved my bacon from falling. Dress in comfortable clothes. In colder weather layer up.  A hikers moto is " if its cold outside be bold and dress cold" they say that because after your body starts working you will warm up and if you dressed too warm you will have to take some off. Like a big coat.  I carry a small backpack with water maybe a energy bar. I also take my everyday cary camera my Canon G7XMII a point and shoot incase I see something interesting. I have a collapsable bowl that I bring for Forrest to drink out of .  I listen to music or a podcast while I'm hiking so a pair of ear buds are great. Lately I've been listening to smooth Jazz radio on Pandora. I really don't have milage goals but I have step goals. If you have some sort of pedometer that can count your steps that is great. My watch counts mine. I set a goal of 10000 steps a day. I usually hike or walk 3 or 4 days then take a rest day to let my muscles relax. Keep and eye out on the weather and if its going to be rainy take a rest day but if you like the rain have at it.

Being in good shape will help your photography and keep you more energetic. Last year Me and Robert went to Zion National Park to hike Angles landing. Its 2 miles up to Scouts landing then another 1/2 mile straight up to the top of Angles landing.  I was very heavy and carrying camera equipment. I struggled to get to Scouts Landing and was very wobbly there and did not do the Angles Landing. I didn't do it because I was not fit enough to do it. Robert made it to the top and got some great photo's but more important he got a great memory because he was more fit. Don't miss out because you're out of shape. So until next week get out and hike and shoot!

Kit Lenses with Primes

January 13, 2023  •  1 Comment

Hey Everyone! How's it going this week? Hope you're having a good one. This week will be a bit controversial for serious photographers and I might get some flack but I think what I think. This week I want to talk about kit lenses and how I use them in my photography. So what is a kit lens? A Kit lens is a less expensive zoom lens that manufactures put with cameras so they can sell them as a kit. Usually not great lenses and are usually the first lenses put out to pasture after someone really gets into photography. They want the professional lenses that all of the YouTube and inter web people say is the best lens to get. And make no doubt these professional lenses are better lenses but are they worth the money? To me it depends. Let me give you my situation. I have a crop sensor lens camera that I use for landscape and have very high quality zoom lenses that I use with it . (I think Zooms are a must for Landscape) Then I have a full frame camera that I use mostly Prime lenses with and I love the way a prime lens looks on a full frame sensor.  When you take a portrait with an 85mm f1.8 lens the background just melts.  Now my full frame I use for everything except Landscape/Wildlife.  So portraits, Street, product every thing in between.  I recently purchased a kit lens for my full frame a 28-60mm lens that works great for just kicking around and taking photos around town or street photography.  Its small and compact. Now its not as bright as my Primes but does great for daylight and well lit shots. So why didn't I get the professional lens for my Full Frame? Cost vs Quality ratio.

Cost of Kit lenses.  The price of a kit lens can be as much as 1/4 the price of its professional lens equivalent.  I got my 28-60mm for less than 300 used and if I had gotten the professional one say a 24-70mm f2.8 it would be well over 1000 dollars used. Thats a big cost savings. I don't think the photo quality between the kit and the professional lens is a big enough difference for me to get the professional one. Plus the professional one is twice the length and probably 3 times the weight.  Again I don't need the weight I like to be as nimble as I can be. So for me it was a no brainer to get the kit lens for casual shooting. If I want to get serious I can pull out my primes.

Solved a problem.  Getting this kit lens solved the problem I had when doing street photography and that's changing lenses every 5 seconds going from a 35mm to a 55mm or a 85mm this 28mm-60mm kind of put me in a good sweet spot but not being large and protruding like say a 24-105 would be.

Now I would not use this lens for my main Landscape or Portrait lens especially if I were selling stuff. But if you're just starting out a kit lens is the lens you have with you so shoot it.  Every camera Manufacturer has their kit lenses and some are really good.  I've heard good things from the Fuji line of lenses and I'm sure Canon and Nikon have great kit lenses also. The one I've been talking about is from Sony and was made for the A7C model camera that came out a couple of years ago. I purchased my copy used from MPB for around 250 dollars and it was like new. I always suggest buying used to save a little dough. I know a lot of professional and high end photographers trash these little lenses but I do think they serve a purpose and can be quite handy little lenses. So until next week get your kit lens out and keep shooting!

New Year, New Plans

January 06, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

What Santa Sees'What Santa Sees' Hey Everyone! I hope today is a great day for you. As this is the first Blog of the new year I thought I would take time to talk about making plans for this year.  Now is the time. The earlier the better.  I think that planning is a big part of success to travel or just photo or camping trips. For me spur of the moment things usually don't work out as well as a well planned trip does. I am in the process of planning my year and it is a big year for me as I just retired from my day job and have plenty of time. Just not plenty of money. LOL Thats how it goes when you have money you don't have the time and when you have time the money has dried up. Now being on a fixed income now I really have to plan out my larger trips in advance and put away money for them. The shorter more spontaneous trips mid week I can do a lot easer now that I don't have a full time job to go to.  Planning early saves time money and organizes your trip.

Where to go? Well that's a big question for anyone.  And everyone has a different answer.  For me this year my big trips will be New York City and the Fall trip with the camera club.  But I plan to have smaller trips in-between to fill up the gaps. A good rule for me at least is take a trip per month. Now this doesn't have to be a big trip or even an over night trip but maybe a day trip to a city or park that is near you. Believe me it can be done I visited all of North Carolina's state Parks in one year by just planning ahead and I wasn't traveling all of the time and still had time for my full time job. There were 42 parks by the way.  My New York City Trip will be with my Wingman Robert.  We plan on taking the train to NYC and public transportation from there.  We plan on going in the springtime. We are also planning a Low Country trip from Savanna back to NC this will probably be a long weekend with camping on the way.  Where to go is the first question.  When is the second question.

When to go?   Setting firm dates on when you are going somewhere helps in the planning.  Questions like do I need to take Vacation?  How many days do I need to take. Making reservations in advance usually is cheaper and you can usually guarantee vacancy.  If you are going to national parks you may need permits putting in for these as early as possible can almost guarantee that you have the right permit on the right day of your trip. Last year on our Utah road trip we had to have permits for a few of the parks that we had to enter into a lottery system but being early we got the dates and times we wanted.  If you are flying making reservations early is great to make sure you have a seat and by doing this you have already paid for you're trip before you even leave then all you have to pay for is incidentals why you are there.  But say you are not traveling far maybe you want to go to a festival of some kind you need to know the dates and if you plan on staying over night you may need a hotel.  If you're planning a camping trip reserving camp sites is a must especially if your going to stay over the weekend.  Since COVID the parks have been packed and making reservations through Recreation.GOV or can be hard to do.  Once you've planned your trip with reservations then its what will you need for your trip.

What to take?  Whether its a camping trip or a Photography trip bringing the right gear is essential.  Taking what you need and leaving home what you don't need can make life a lot easier.  Clothing that is suited for the weather that you will encounter on your trip is crucial.  Comfortable footwear is a must. Nothing is worse that having to walk through a big city and you have blisters on your feet because you brought cute shoes that didn't fit well or were not broken in. If you plan on staying a week or more only take enough clothes for 4 days and find some where to do a load of clothes. No one cares if you ware the same outfit more than once on a trip.  This will keep your pack lighter. If your taking camera equipment with you on a long trip don't take everything you own.  Think about the situations that you will be in most of the time and take the equipment that will handle those situations. When I went to Utah last year I had my landscaping kit with me and when I went to Boston I had a totally different kit with me.  Choose the right tool for the job at hand. Keeping gear lightweight and manageable will make traveling through terminals much easier.

Planning in advance makes the year go by easier. If you have a full time job and you have your year planned out you have something to look forward to.  You can say to yourself in two weeks I'll be in Boston or wherever you see yourself being.  If you have a multi-day trip planned make an itinerary. Itineraries help you organize and make the most of the time you have for your trip. You don't have to wander what your suppose to do next its in your itinerary.  It makes a good outline of what you'll be doing you don't have to be a stickler to it but its a good start.

So get set and start making your plans for this year.  I hope to see you on your travels. Until Next week get out and shoot.


The Year in Review 2022

December 30, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you're doing great! This week I want to look back at my photography of 2022 . It has been a big year for me.  I have traveled more than I usually do and have got some great photo's. I have taken two photography trips that included a plane ride which I haven't been on a plane in a long time. I did a lot of it with my Photography Wingman Robert and we have some trips in the future planned as well. So I'll go through the trips in order as they were taken.

New Years day shoot at Mount Mitchell NC the highest point east of the Mississippi. Robert and I had Mt. Mitchell SunriseMt. Mitchell Sunrise planned this one well in advance and drove to the mountains and shot the sun coming up on the first day of the new year. We also got to witness a young couple get engaged while we were there which was cool. We got some great shots on the way down from the mountain. It was a great start to the new year.

New Jersey. Our next road trip was to New Jersey where Robert had some family that we were going to stay with. I had never been to New Jersey before so this was all new to me. We drove and stayed at Norfolk the first night went to the ship yards and the next day went to the Naval Museum we had the place to ourselves and it was awesome. We then drove to stay with friends of Robert and had a nice visit there. Then it was off to Jersey and Asbury Park where the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi got their start. We got to see lots of cool places but it was COLD. On the way back we stopped in DC at the Iwo Jima war memorial to take some photo's. Great trip!

Congaree National Park. Robert, Mike and I went to this National Park in South Carolina. None of us had been there but it was Nice .  We had good food and fellowship.

Pawleys Island.  Now this wasn't much of a photography trip it was my 40th anniversary but I always have my camera with me so I got some shots and we stopped at Myrtle Beach State park while we were there and may go back in the future.

Utah Road Trip.  This was by far the most epic of my trips this year. Robert (Wingman) and I flew to Las Vegas got a rental and embarked on a 1600mile road trip which took us through Utah's Mighty 5. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyon lands, Capital Reef and Arches. We stayed in 5 different hotels and traveled through Nevada, Arizona, Utah , Colorado and New Mexico. We visited state parks in Nevada and Utah and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We SpiresSpiresCanyonlands National Park Utah ended up staying in Taos NM and flew out of Albuquerque after going to the top of Sandia Peak which is over 10000 feet high. It was a overwhelming trip and we could have stayed a week or two at each of the places we went to. It was a whirlwind trip.

Shenandoah National Park.  My wife and I took our little teardrop trailer to the Shenandoah National Park to camp for a long weekend. It was crowded but very nice. Even though we were in a big campground we were secluded .  The deer would come right up to within 10 feet of you before they would scurry off. We drove up and down skyline drive stopping at different outlooks. Got a few good shots but really had a good time just camping.

Boston. We took a long weekend and flew to Boston. There were 6 of us that went Me and Robert, Anita Boston Harbor at NightBoston Harbor at Night and Caitlin, Roberts son and Eric Caitlins friend. We had a Air B&B at Revere Beach. We used public transportation (Subway's/Trains) to travel around and took one or two UBERS.  Seeing the Sites of Boston was pretty neat. We traveled along the Boston Freedom Trail that takes you to a lot of the historic sites. We had good food and a good time was had by all.

Raven's Roost Va.Raven's Roost Va. GAPC Fall Colors Trip. This is usually my big trip of the year. But not this year. But its still a big trip.  We went to an Air B&B in Wintergreen Ski Resort for our home base. From there we went to West Va, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Richmond and other local places. Good food was always had at local restaurants Spring Fall FallsSpring Fall Falls and lots of good photo's and fun was had by all. I think we had 7 of us all together.

Goose Creek overbite Camp- This last one was a small spur of the Goose Creek DriftwoodGoose Creek Driftwood moment trip that Robert and me took to Goose Creek State Park in North Carolina to shoot the night stars and Sunrise. Robert got much better photo's than I did but I had a blast camping in a tent again.

These were the major trips of the year but there was some smaller trips (day trips) That we took to Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilmington, New bern, and Edenton. So this was a busy year for me travel wise and photography wise. I hope I can keep it up next year. I plan on taking some more camping type of trips to places next year as well.  Considering all of the places I went this year and how far I traveled I really didn't spend that much for the fun I had. The money/ fun ratio was good.  What did you do this year? And have you started planning for next year? Start planning until next week get out and Shoot!