Monday, January 23, 2012

LensProToGo 52 Week Photo Project - Week 4 Submission

My submission for week 4 - Self Portrait - Be Creative.

There's a reason I'm a photographer and not a model. I would MUCH rather be behind the camera than in front of it. I just don't care to have my picture taken for some reason. I got this idea while driving home from work and I'm happy with the way it turned out. For me it's about as creative as I get when it comes to taking photos of myself. I sure home next week we have something that will be more appealing to me. We will find out later in the week when the folks from Lens Pro To Go update the theme list on Flickr.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Amazon Kindle Fire

Lately Donna and I have been spending a good amount of time reading eBooks instead of print books. I'm the kind of person that will read the same book more than once. Donna isn't so for print books really are a waste of money and space not to mention trees. We've been reading mostly on the iPad which has worked well. The only problem is we only have one iPad and try as I might I couldn't talk her into a 2nd one :). For her birthday and after having spent a little time trying out our daughter, Steffanie's, Nook eBook reader I talked her into getting a Kindle Fire for her birthday. We chose the Kindle Fire over a Nook because our local library allows you to check out books on the Kindle and not a Nook plus Donna has an Amazon Prime membership so we are able to stream movies, etc for free so the Kindle just made sense so that's what we bought. When we upgraded her phone to an iPhone she also wanted to get a protective screen cover for it so we got the ZAGG covers installed on both our phones and they are really nice. They're expensive but so far I have been extremely pleased with the screen protector.

So far we like the Kindle quite a bit. I've actually used it more than she has. Some how she seems to have taken possession of the iPad and I'm using the Kindle. Oh well so be it. The Kindle is obviously smaller than the iPad and I've been taking it with me to work. When I eat lunch I'll open the Kindle and read while I eat.

So far I've only read the book "Bridges of Madison County" on it. I decided I wanted to read the book after watching the movie for the 2nd time recently. I'm glad I finished reading it on a day when most of my co-workers where out of the office because by the time I finished it I'm sure my eyes were bloodshot from the tears. What a wonderful love story.

I'm currently working my way through Laurie Excell's "Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots". I've only read the first few chapters and so far most of it has been a review of stuff I've read elsewhere. Once I finish it completely I'll update this post with a more in-depth review.

Queued up after the wildlife book is Laurie Excell's "Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots". I'll write up a review on it after I've read it.

I've gotta say I'm a big fan of eBooks that I've spent some time reading them. It's really nice being able to carry around several books and being able to pick and choose which one I want to read depending on my mood at the time.

So how about you? Do you have an eBook reader? If so which one? If not are you considering one?

Below are product links on Amazon for the items mentioned in this post. If you click on the link and buy one of the items I'll earn a small commission. Eventually I'll earn enough to buy another eBook or two :).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Get on the Good Foot!

You can click on the image to view a larger version

Technically I should just delete this photo because it's out of focus and all but when I saw it I immediately thought about the James Brown Song Get On the Good Foot. Listen to this song James Brown - Get on the Good Foot and if it doesn't put a smile on your face then something is wrong with you :).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LensProToGo 52 Week Photo Project - Week 3 Submission

My submission for week 3 - My Favorite Thing.
You can click on the image to see a larger version.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to photograph as my favorite thing. I initially came up with a few different ideas:

  • My camera - but that seemed all too obvious.
  • My cat Tiger - but he's not a thing to me. He's the child Donna and I never had together. At least that's how we treat him.
  • The TV Remote - but that shows I spend more time watching TV than I should.
  • My wedding ring - it's not really the ring that's my favorite thing it's what it symbolizes, my marriage to Donna that is a favorite thing.
  • Wildlife - the bird feeders in our back yard. We love spending time out back with the birds. Our backyard has become the bird sanctuary of the neighborhood. Yesterday afternoon I counted a dozen Chipping Sparrows sitting on the fence just waiting for Tiger to go inside so they could feed on the feeders.
  • Alligators - love to shoot them but they are dormant this time of year so trying to find one to shoot for the assignment would be difficult.

Finally it came to me - sunrises. I think watching the movie Bridges of Madison County helped because Clint Eastwood's character talked about wanting to shoot one of the bridges at sunrise. My next problem to overcome was when to shoot one. The submissions run from Monday of the week through Sunday and my normal work schedule has me getting to work before the sun actually raises. Fortunately yesterday being a federal holiday I was off and was able to shoot the sunrise.

I try to learn something on each planned photo shoot and I learned several things on this one.

  1. When it's 29 degrees outside you'd better bundle up! Fortunately I was prepared. I had on a heavy coat, watch cap, and gloves.
  2. Using a remote shutter release is more handy than I originally thought. I shot all of the photos using mirror lockup and so being able to tap the shutter button on the remote was easier than reaching around to the front of the camera each time.
  3. Fully charged batteries are a must. The combination of the cold and using live view extensively really drained the batteries. I'm glad I had the battery grip installed so I had the power of two batteries working for me.
  4. Live View rocks! I have been somewhat disappointed with it in the past because it's really hard to see the screen on a bright sunny day (Guess I need one of those hoodman Loupes). but in the dark live view is great. I was able to instantly see changes in exposure by adjusting the shutter speed and it made composing the shots very easy. I'm now a big fan of live view in low light situations.
  5. I need a graduated neutral density filter. Pretty much as soon as the sun broke the horizon I quit shooting because it was blowing out the highlights.
  6. I only have 3 or 4 apps on the iPhone that will show a bubble level or give you some indication that your camera is level. Did I use any of them. No! But I will next time.
  7. Experimentation really is fun. While shooting yesterday I tried several different things such as putting the horizon in line with the top line of the Rule of Thirds grid. Then I'd move the camera to have the bottom line on the Rule of Thirds grid line up with the horizon. Afterwards it was neat to see the difference it made to the overall scene.
  8. Manual mode is my new best friend. Ever since Donna and I went on the citifari photo walk in New York my camera have been kept on manual mode. I'm finding that using manual mode slows me down and makes me think more about each shot I'm going to take and my photography is improving because of it. At least I think it is :).

Oh BTW, not that anyone is counting but this is my 100th blog post!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Canon Pro Camera Strap

Recently I bought a used Canon Rebel T2i that came with the standard Canon neck strap. On our current cameras Donna and I use the Canon Pro Strap. Since the kind UPS lady dropped off a new strap today I figured I'd do a little post about the strap and why we like them. Note: On all of the images in this post and my other posts you can click on them to see a larger version.

My new to me Canon Rebel T2i complete with battery grip and standard strap.

Some of you may be wondering why I'd buy a a T2i when Donna and I already have one. I do so for a few reasons:

  1. It's lighter than my 7D and that's important to me when Donna and I do our waterfall hikes.
  2. It gives me a chance to learn more about the T2i so I can better explain things to her when she has a question about the camera
  3. The battery grip was included
  4. I got a great deal on it
  5. It uses SDHC cards and that makes it much easier to import photos into our iPad than it does importing from a CF card

Here's my biggest complaint about the standard strap -- it gets in the way! It's not so bad when you have the strap around your neck but when you're trying to shoot from a tripod it's a pain to keep moving it especially if you switch back and forth between portrait and landscape mode like I do. Another reason for getting rid of it is when shooting long exposures and there's some wind around it's possible the strap will get blown around and bump into the tripod which could cause your images to come out blurry. Bet you never thought of that now have you?

Packaging for the strap. You can save the hassle of searching for it by clicking the link at the bottom of the post. If you end up buying one I'll earn a small commission and eventually I'll be able to afford another pro strap :).

See this nifty buckles? These allow you to remove the large center section of the strap! This makes life so much easier. Now when you're shooting from a tripod just remove the center section of the strap and put it in your bag. You can let the little bits of strap that remain on the camera to flop around. They actually do a good job of staying out of your way. As an added bonus it makes it easier to store the camera when you don't have the extra center section of the strap to worry about. Just don't forget to bring it along when you head out for a photo shoot if you're going to do much walking around with the camera.

A comparison of the two straps.

The T2i with the new strap installed.

We love our Canon Pro Straps and if you've ever gotten frustrated using the standard strap I'd highly recommend you give the pro strap a try.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LensProToGo 52 Week Photo Project - Week 2 Submission

My submission for week 2 - My Front Door.

I normally come into the house through the garage but today I happened to see our cat, Tiger, waiting at the front door so I grabbed this quick picture using my iPhone before he walked away from the window.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

LensProToGo 52 Week Photo Project - Week 1 Submission

Recently I read about the LensProToGo 52 Week Photo Project and decided to join in on the fun. Below is my submission for week 1 which had the theme of self portrait without you in it.

The items in the picture are:

  1. My letterman jacket from high shool. I was an in-shape jock back then. Now I'm a computer geek. 'nuff said.
  2. Canon lens cap. Represents the brand of camera I shoot with though I do own a Nikon P&S.
  3. AMOD GPS Tracker. Represents my thing for gadgets. I Geotag the vast majority of my images.
  4. Logitech Mouse. Represents the computer geek.
  5. iPhone 4. Represents my favorite phone. I resisted getting for for a long time but now that I have one I'll never own another phone other than a newer iPhone.
  6. Georgia Bulldog decal. Represents my state of birth - Georiga and my favorite football team.
  7. Airplane propeller. Represents my other hobby other than photograph - flying model airplanes.
  8. Military ribbons. Represents the years I spent serving my country in the United States Air Force.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Many Photos Have You Taken?

For some reason I decided to figure out how many photos I've taken since I got back into photography in 2007. Fortunately Lightroom makes finding this information out a breeze. I used Lightroom to create smart collections for each calendar year 2007 - 2012. The chart below I created in Excel and I'm pretty surprised at the results. Seems every other year I shoot a lot of photos. Assuming that trend holds 2012 should be a busy year taking photos :). Actually I think one of the reasons why the count is lower for 2011 is I have spent more time culling out images that aren't worth keeping. I really should go back through the images and cull out more. I can't remember when the last time was I looked at a photo from the 2007 time frame was. While I was at it I decided to see how well I have done with adding keywords to the photos. As you can see from the 2nd series in the chart I've done relatively well. I think it's pretty amazing that I have keywords for all 18000+ photos from 2007. I guess the next thing I'll do is go through the photos that don't have keywords and assign them. So how about you? Anyone else have any statistics on how many photos you've taken over the years?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Don't Forget

Happy New Year everyone!

If your camera automatically sets the Copyright information and you include the year be sure to change it from 2011 to 2012. I really wish Canon would allow you to use @Year as a marker for the current year so that you don't have to remember to change it every January 1st.