Tuesday, July 27, 2010

365 Days of Photos :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

The idea of doing a 365 project has been around for a long time and I thought I'd give it a try. My goal for this project is to challenge my self and my ability to find and create new photos every day for the next year. At the end of the year I will have the blog published and will have a visual representation of what the following year has in store for me.

follow the link below and join me over the next 365 days. I'm interested to see where this takes me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Choosing A Camera :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

When you are looking for a new camera there are tons of them out there to choose from and making the choice can be a daunting task. Many people get caught up in the name game. Canon versus Nikon/Pentax/Sony blah blah blah. Others situate themselves on opposing sides regarding whether it is better to shoot Film or Digital. and then there is the decision between Compact point and shoots and SLRs.

When I talk to people about photography they frequently ask me what camera I use and which one they should buy for themselves. My most common answer is that depends on what you want to do with it. If their answer is "I don't know" then any camera out there will do the job.

To be short and sweet I thought I'd share some tips on how to look for a good camera.

  1. Figure out what you will be using the camera for. Will you be taking snapshots of the kids, shooting weddings or making huge prints to hang on the wall (if you think you'll be doing the last 2 then you will need an SLR, preferably one with a "full frame sensor")? will you want to be able to shoot video too (some SLRs and pretty much all of the Compact cameras can shoot video now)?

  2. Come to terms with how much gear you're willing to lug around with you. If you choose an SLR be prepared to have to carry a lot more gear then you would if you buy a compact point and shoot

  3. Decide on what format you want to shoot in ( for the sake of simplicity choose between an SLR or Compact camera)

  4. Figure out what you are willing to pay and stick with that amount give or take a few dollars. Don't let the sales clerk try to up sell you on the latest button that you will never use on the newer model.

  5. Go to a reputable store (I like The Camera Store in Calgary due to their great staff)

  6. Test all the cameras in your price range by doing the following:

- hold them in your hand and feel the ergonomics of the design. Does it feel too big/small? Can you easily reach the buttons with your thumbs while holding it? Does the layout of the buttons make sense to you?
- Press the menu button. Go through the menu items and see how easily it is to navigate through them.
- Take some photos of things you would normally shoot (i.e. people, the flowers out front of the store, the landscape of the city etc...) Take the sale clerk with you.
- look at the photos and zoom in on them to see which camera has the better detail and less grain in the image
- don't buy anything the first trip to the store. Go home/out to the car and think about what you saw. I you have the chance look up the camera on this website and see what they have to say (they know what they are talking about).
- See if any other stores are offering the camera you want for cheaper. You can go back to the store and ask for a price match ( I have combined a few store's lower prices into one purchase at a single store several times).

Regardless of what camera company you choose to go with (Pentax, Canon, Sony, Nikon etc...), all of them make some really good cameras. The bottom line is how well the camera fits into your way of shooting and personal tastes and how comfortable you are holding/using it.

I hope this helps you in your future camera purchase. If you have questions leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Macro an a budget :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

Some times it's nice to just stop and photograph the roses... or in my case, these beautiful yellow flowers my wife has grown outside our home. The issue is that they are very small.

When it come to photographing small objects you a few choices. you can buy a Macro lens or you can pick up some extension tubes. The macro lens route will give you a better image quality in the end but will also take a bigger chunk out of your bank account. If you're like me and you don't do a lot of Macro work then a good option might be the tubes.

What the tubes do is decrease the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Each lens has a limit to how close it can be to a subject before it can't focus on it any more. the For the images above I used my 50mm f/1.8 and all three extension tubes. The closest I could get without the tubes was about 14 inches away. With the tubes the flowers were almost touching the front of the lens (1 or 2 inches away). You don't have to use a 50mm like mine. A lot of people use a longer lens so they can be a little farther away so their lens/camera will not cast a shadow on their subject. I tried it with my 70-200mm f/2.8 but liked the look I got from my 50mm.

A few things you have to know before you start using extension tubes are as follows:

  1. Use a tripod! When you're really close the slightest movement is magnified just as much as your subject is
  2. Your depth of field is a lot shallower then normal so close down you aperture more to get more depth of "focus" in your image.
It is a amazing what you will see when you start shoot the world around you from this perspective.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yellowstone :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

My family and I just just returned from a trip down to the States where we attended a family reunion in Southern Idaho. On the way back to Brooks we took the opportunity to go through Yellowstone National Park. We went through the park about 4 or 5 years ago and saw a lot at that time but there were a few things we missed. I have been thinking of these three locations for years and I had another chance to make some photos of them.

info: Canon 5D mrk II, Graduated filter, f/29 @ 15 seconds minus 1/3 stop

This first image was actually the last one I made just before we left the North entrance of the park. I saw this stretch of the river on the way in the last time but didn't have the chance to stop. I made sure we did this time around. It was overcast and later in the day so it was a perfect time to get the shot I had intended. I used a graduated neutral density filter to bring the exposure of the sky down a bit and add some detail to it and dragged the shutter to blur the river. It's nice when you are able to visualize an image and then go out and create it just the way you envisioned it.

info: Canon 5D mrk II, f/22 @ 1/25 sec plus 1/3 stop (14 images stitched together in Photoshop)
This second image is of the Grand Prismatic Springs. We actually saw this sight before but I was not able to get the shot I wanted at that time. When I made this image I actually took 14 separate images and stitched them together in post later. When we go back in future years I will see if we are allowed to hike to the top of the hill in the background in order to get an over head view of the area and to be better able to capture the various colours it has to offer.

info: Canon 5D mrk II, f/ 32 @ 1/2 sec minus 1/3 stop

When we arrived at Tower Falls we were informed that the trail to the bottom of the falls was washed out so we would not be getting the image I really wanted. However, we were still able to enjoy the view from above.