GAPC Fall Trip "Virginia!"

December 23, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! This week I wanted to talk about the Fall Colors trip that my Photography Club GAPC (Goldsboro Area Photography Club) took a couple of months ago. We went to Waynesboro VA and stayed at the Wintergreen Ski Resort that is near there. The Air B&B was Spacious and well located in the mountains. Let me tell you that the colors were popping! I have been on Fall Colors trips for 8 years and the colors have not been as good as they were this year.  These week long trips are great for my photography soul.  I get a whole week where I don't have to think about work or anything else and just photography. I can spend time and talk to people who love photography as much as I do. Where ever we go its fun and gorgeous with colors .  We need lots of things to shoot so we go to different areas every day and it planned out months in advance taking into account driving direction food stops and where the nearest bathroom is. We have great planners! This year wasn't as target rich as some of our other trips. We had never been here before and it took a lot of google searches to find stuff to fill our days. These are truly Raven's Roost Va.Raven's Roost Va. workshops we leave early and come back to the house late. It is not a vacation but it is fun. I like to say its summer camp for old folks.  We eat at local restaurants and usually really good food.  We visit quaint towns with great character and great shops. As you can tell I am very into this yearly trip.

We have a week to really do nothing but photography and fellowship with the other like minded folks in our workshop.  We learn a lot about each other which makes us very comfortable around each other. This year in Virginia where we had never been before. We mainly split days up into days like Blue Ridge day, Shenandoah Spring Fall FallsSpring Fall Falls day, Richmond Day. Each day was in a different direction and we tried to hit places that were grouped together.  We don't know each specific place we will shoot but have a good idea of the area and sometimes we just ride up on a place that is fantastic that we had no Idea about. I think the furtherest day we had driving was West Virginia day but it was well worth the ride. We had some folks that had not been to the places in West Virginia and it was nice to see their reaction to the sites and how beautiful it was. We had one member that had not done Landscape before and it was nice to see her get all excited and working the scene like she would a Portrait Photo shoot.  These trips really make you want to shoot all of the time .  The first day is Glades Creek Mill WVGlades Creek Mill WV usually my worst day because I haven't gotten into the grove yet but by the second day and we pull into a location I go on Auto Pilot and start shooting like a pro (or at least I think I do).  After the long day and a relaxing supper we are back to the Air B&B to download  photo's and look at what everyone else got. Sometimes theirs are a lot better than what I got but sometimes not. It it really nice to see 5 or 6 people shooting from the same place and see all of the different shots they get and may not be anything like you got. Its a real learning experience. If we really have some new photographers with us we may even give a class on photo editing using Lightroom. 

Sandstone Falls New River Gorge NPSandstone Falls New River Gorge NP On these trips it really is the journey not the destination. Or at least it is to me. I enjoy the seeing new or old places and making the shots. The act of taking the photo is just as important or maybe even more important to me than the final product. As you can tell I really enjoy these trips and can't wait until next year when we go back to the North Carolina mountains.  Hopefully we can get some new folks to go with us and show them the wonders that we have seen in the past. So until next week Get out and Shoot!

Recharging Station at Home and Traveling

December 16, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you have had a great week! This week I want to talk about how you recharge your electronics and batteries. It seems like with all of the electronic gadgets that we have ,we have to do a lot of recharging. It could be GoPro batteries or your watch or almost anything else. But how do you do it. Do you just search the house looking for an empty wall socket to plug your stuff into? What about all of the adapters that come with all of your gadgets that you have to recharge? As you may know if you follow my blog I am a organizing freak and I love to have everything just so. So as with my Camera bags everything must have its place. My batteries as well. I have come up with a system for home and travel to help me with this problem.  Too Many Gadgets and not enough sockets. I have created charging stations. I have two in my house one is for my computers and one is for my batteries. They are very simple to make and with no particular way of making them but it gets all of your stuff in one  place.

At home charging station. This can be put anywhere. On top of a counter cabinet or even in an unused drawer. Now I have two charging stations one for my Laptops and iPads. And one for camera batteries. For laptops I have work and personal ones so multiple machines. The first charging station is set up on a plastic shelf that I keep saying I'm going to replace with a more permanent one but I never do.  I use a power strip surge protector that also has USB ports in it. So My LapTop charger can plug into one of the sockets and iPads, Phone (work phone), watches and almost anything else can be charged conveniently beside my workstation which is just a old fold out table made into a desk. I also have a wireless charger for my work phone and ear buds. I try to keep all of the cables wrapped up as neat as possible but they always seem to be spaghetti on a pile on the top of this small shelf.  I would like to get a more permanent cabinet with a drawer that I can put everything in. But for now its this plastic shelf.  I also have a separate charging station for all of my batteries.  This includes camera batteries , of which I have three types . Four if you count the GoPro batteries. So four different chargers. Also have lots of AA rechargeable batteries that I like to keep somewhat charged up . I use these for Flashes and Strobes. I have built this charging station up in the same way I did my iPad charging station with a power strip that has sockets and USB ports for all of my stuff.  I have a big shelf that I keep all of my camera gear on and this power station resides there and on the table beside it that I use for Photography. I can also use the power strip to plug constant LED lights that I have when doing tabletop photography. 

Having these charging stations helps keep my batteries and devices at home charged. If I'm out on a photo shoot when I get home I can go right to the station and take my used up batteries and plug them in without hunting and looking for the correct charger because it is already hooked up to the power strip or is nearby.  Very convenient. The same with my laptop that I use around the house. It stays plugged in until I need it. But what about on the road what do I use?

On the road Charging station. When I travel I take a small power strip it has only 3 sockets on it .  I have two power bricks made by Anker that have 2 USB ports in them. So that will give me 4 USB ports to use for battery charging and phone charging and one port left over for a laptop if I bring one. I only bring the chargers of the electronics that I'm traveling with. All of this is stored in a small bag that I can shove almost anywhere in my luggage.  When I get to a hotel or an Air B&B I make a little charging station that I used to charge batteries and phone or iPad. So just like at home when I get back to the hotel I can take my spent batteries and right away put in a charger so they are ready for the next day. I know this sounds pretty simple but it keeps me from hunting for power sockets when your in a hotel room for all of your different devices and helps you from loosing cords and cables when traveling because they are always in one place.

So what does this all cost? Well that's the cool part. You already have all of the chargers, Cables, batteries and anything else you would need. So just a Surge Suppressor Power Strip is all you need. You may already have one or you can pick one up for 15-20 bucks and assemble your own charging station. If your a neat freak like me you may want to get some sort of wire ties that will keep all of your cords in check. But that's it. Well that's enough for this week until next . So Get out and Shoot!


Landscape Photography "What Lenses to use?"

December 09, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Hey everyone! Its Max again with my thoughts on photography.  Hope you had a great week.  This week I want to talk about Landscape photography and what "I" think the lenses you should be using. First of all you can use any type of lenses to take landscape but these are the ones that I think you should use. I have three lenses that I use for landscape photography. Before I get into what lenses I use first lets talk about the different types of lenses.

First there are prime lenses. These lenses are sharper (debatable ) they are lighter have a wider aperture and are cheaper. So why aren't everyone using them for landscape photography? They are of one focal length. You can use them and there is nothing wrong with it but they aren't as versatile as zooms. When your out in nature you can't always get to the right distance you want because of the terrain that you're in.  So when using a prime only there will be a lot of times where you just can't get the right perspective because of the limitation of the one focal length of the lens you are using. Now you can make the argument that Ansel Adams only used primes and you would be wrong. A lot of the photo's he took was with a bellows type of lens that lets you change the focal length and also vertical perspective like a tilt shift lens would. So he was using a type of zoom lens in the field on a large format camera.

Zoom Lenses. These lenses are sharp, heavier , not usually as wide aperture as primes, and are expensive.  So why would you ever use them? They are more versatile in this environment than primes.  Zoom lenses let you adjust your focal length to the situation that you have. Most people for all types of photography are using zooms whether its portraits , sports, or landscape. Primes aren't used much for anything anymore because the zooms now are so good.  They are expensive and in photography you usually get what you pay for.  A good zoom if cared for can last forever and is a good investment.  You can get zooms in aperture as wide as f2.8 but they are expensive but the variable aperture range lenses are good too.  To tell you the truth there aren't many bad lenses made anymore. So Zoom lenses are the choice for Landscape. But which ones?

If you are a landscape photographer I recommend 3 to 4 lenses. The fourth being a macro lens for close up shots of plants, bugs and things. But the first of the Zooms I recommend is the wide zoom. Somewhere between say 16-24mm.  This lens will let you take wide landscapes and get all of the scene in the frame. It's also good for closed in situations say like on a trail or in a forest.  They are great for waterfalls and almost anything that you want to get all of it in.  They do not have to have a wide aperture of 2.8 but if you got the money.  The one I use is a constant F4.

The next Zoom I would get is the mid-range zoom. It will be somewhere 24-70mm.  This is a great lens and probably the first one I would get. If you've got the money I would get this one at f2.8 aperture if you can afford it. This is the focal length that I used the most. Its my bread and butter so I got the best one I could afford for my kit. I recently went on a fall colors trip and this was the lens I used 90 percent of the time if not more. Its always attached to my camera and seldom comes off.  It has always been my favorite zoom and focal length.

The last Zoom is the Telephoto Zoom.  The big boy.  This one can be a variable aperture and these lenses can be expensive. I would suggest buying this one used. As a matter of fact I would buy all of them used. But use a friend or a established company to buy them from. The range of this zoom is say 100-400mm.  This will let you zoom in and isolate different subjects in a large scene. If you're photographing a large canyon you can get the wide open shot first then take this lens and isolate different aspects of the scene. Work the Scene! This is a great lens for this and can also be used for the occasional wildlife shot when you don't want to get close like a bear.

So these are my suggestions for Landscape lenses. Three Zooms.  A wide Zoom, Mid-Range Zoom and a Telephoto Zoom.  I would not recommend a all in one zoom like a 24-300. These large range zooms usually aren't as good in quality as the specific zooms I mentioned above and you won't be satisfied with the quality. Also a macro lens.  I personally don't have one at the moment and am searching for one to add to my kit but I think the macro is the least important of the kit and would be used the least.  Well there you have it my thoughts on Landscape Lenses and what I think you should have in your kit. Until next time Get out and shoot!

Photography fail? Or Not.

December 02, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Goose Creek GrassGoose Creek Grass Hey Everyone! Hope you had a great week. This week I want to talk about a trip I took last weekend. It was a spontaneous trip for me. Which is unusual. I woke up Saturday morning and wanted to shoot some new to me lenses I had just got and was thinking where to go. I decided that I wanted to shoot a sunrise and the best way to do it where I wanted to go was to camp out and wake up early and head to the site. I got on the inner web and made a reservation at Goose Creek State Park. The reservation was for a more primitive campsite but you could still drive there. Me and Forrest the Wonder dog were going to go camping.  About 10 min. after I made the reservation my Photography Goose Creek DriftwoodGoose Creek Driftwood Wingman Robert sent me a message and was wondering what to do. So I asked him to join me. He said yes. This is a big yes for him he doesn't go camping much or at all. Camping to him is staying at a Motel 6. LOL He even went out and got a tent. I met him at his house and we headed out to the State Park. He was excited and geared up for the trip. He only brought a GoPro with him and he was planning all kinds of stuff. Like a astro shoot which I didn't even think about. But I was game.   We made it to our campsite and set up camp.  He was putting this tent up for the first time and struggled a little but managed to get it set up .  We went for a little walk to a dock that was near by and decided that's where we were going to do the night shooting. He had the Photo Pills app out and knew where the Milky way was going to be and what time.  We made our way back to the camp and cooked or heated up some Chili that he brought and had a good meal. We cleaned up and waited for the sun to go down.  After it got good and dark we headed to the dock with Forrest leading the way.  We got there and he set up and started with the shoot.  I struggled a little trying to get good focus.  I had forgot all about astro photography I haven't done it in a while and I was doing everything wrong and struggling .  I should have had my camera all set up and ready to go before we went to the dock. But I got some shots but no winners with tac sharp stars. They were a little blurry.  But I couldn't tell until I got home and put them on the big screen.  We sat around waiting for his GoPro do do its thing and we saw all of the stars the Milky way and airplanes flying across the sky. Even saw some shooting stars.  It was very cool.

We made it back to camp and hit the hay we had to get up early in the morning and then go to the place that we were going to shoot the sunrise.  I woke up early as usual and went outside and made some coffee and then. Drip, Drip, Drip and more drops and the sound got louder and it was raining! It Rained for about an hour or so I got in my truck and just looked at my phone until it stopped. Robert got up and before too much longer it stopped raining. We headed to the spot that I had picked out. The first photo of this blog was taken there a few years ago. When we got there the sun had not crested the horizon yet but it was hidden by clouds and you could see the lights of a town across the sound where we were at. It was very pretty with Spanish moss hanging from the Live Oak trees were silhouetted with the water sparkling with the lights of the town.  I got my camera out and started shooting. I had Forrest attached by a leash to my belt loop and he was tugging me quite a bit. I tried to put that out of my mind and kept shooting.  I make lots of shots and had fun shooting.  Robert filmed us with his go pro and made a time lapse of the sun rising but you couldn't see the sun much.  After the shoot we went back to the campsite and packed up and drove home. Fun was had by all.

When I got home I downloaded my photo's and looked at them closely. My astro shots were not quite sharp enough I tried running them through a sharpening program but they were too far gone .  My sunrise shots were sharp and well exposed but the compositions just didn't work. I really didn't get any keepers from the shoot. So was it a failure? Maybe in some people's eyes.  But I got to go camping, See the milky way, and witness another sunrise with Forrest. The photo's didn't turn out the way I wanted but you can't be successful all of the time. Failing is part of learning, so what did I learn. Photographically I didn't prepare as much as I did for the camping part of the trip. Being Spontaneous  doesn't always work for me. I sometimes need a little of time to think and prepare. But I did have fun with a Friend and Forrest the Wonder Dog.  So over all a win! Just remember your not always going to have winners and that's Okay.  If you get out and experience life that's the most important thing. So until Next week Get out and Shoot!

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 or 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!