Short-Post, Going Home Friday

Hey everyone, I wanted to wish everyone a great Friday on this Leap Year as well as a great weekend.  I’m keeping it short and sweet this morning as I’m getting ready to head home after my 3-week stint in Wallops Island, VA.  It’s been real, it’s been fun, and some of it was even real fun!  Lame catch phrases aside, I’m excited to be back at home with my wife and kids.  I’ve also got some plans in store for some shoots this weekend so look for some shots from those shoots next week!  Wow… say that three times fast!

Again, have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday!

ISO Setting: Hard Lesson Learned

One of the best ways for photographers to learn is to realize the mistakes of other photographers that have come before them and take notes.  The great thing about history is that we get to learn from our mistakes and our successes, then adjust accordingly in the future.  Here’s one of my own personal Hard Lesson Learned:

Last weekend I went to Washington, D.C. to walk around and do some shooting.  It was pretty much what you would call a “photo walk” since I didn’t have one specific subject or shot that I was looking for.  I spent the entire day walking around the National Mall taking shots of monuments, landscapes, buildings, you name it and I would shoot it. 

The night before I very carefully ensured my batteries were charged, I had all my gear, and packed everything into my travel bag that I might need.  The day was going great and I was getting some good shots and seeing some interesting things.  I even visited a couple of spots in D.C. that I had never been to before. 

I stopped off for lunch in one of my favorite spots in Washington, “Old Ebbitt Grill”.  It’s not only my favorite, because it’s the 5th richest restaurant in D.C.!  Regardless of that, they have great food and beverages and it’s very fairly priced.  It’s also well known and busy.  I thoroughly enjoyed my clam chowder and Reuben as I had worked up an appetite walking around.  I finished my beer, paid my tab and headed out again.

Whenever I visit the Vietnam Memorial I’m overcome by the powerful feeling that surges through me and the gratitude I feel for those that came before me and gave their lives for their Country.  It’s simply amazing.  From there I went over to the Lincoln Memorial which was my last stop.  I went inside and took some shots as there were lots of flowers left over from President’s Day that past Monday.  I had set my D40 to ISO 800 to get those shots.

Here comes the Hard Lesson Learned: when I went back outside, I forgot to change the ISO setting back to my usual 200 while I’m shooting outdoors.  Now the rest of my shots for the day weren’t all that bad, they just have some extra noise which no photographer wants.  If I were shooting for a client, the shoot wouldn’t have been blown, but I would have to spend extra time in Photoshop reducing noise.  As we all know, in business time is money. 

So there you have it, learn from my mistake and remember to check your camera settings every time your environment changes.  You’ll thank me for it!  Have a great Thursday!

Lighting Focus Wednesday

beamHey everyone!  Today I want to focus on one of my absolute favorite topics in the photography world: lighting.  One of the things that I am most passionate with my photography is lighting and how it affects the look, feel, and emotion involved in my images.  It’s that same passion (or obsession) that drives me to the blogs of great photographers like Joe McNally and David Hobby on a daily basis.  These guys know an awful lot about the subject and they have mastered their craft and graciously share their knowledge with the rest of the world.  A couple of class acts if you ask me.  I have never had the privilege of attending seminars where either of the two have taught, but I’m working on that part.  Once I can get my schedule to jive with one of their workshops you can bet that I will be there. 

With all that said, I wanted to bring your attention to a great article that David recently posted on his blog regarding lighting with umbrellas and what zoom setting to set on your flash.  (David’s blog is strictly about lighting and primarily with flashes or speedlights.)  The Nikon SB800 that I use can be zoomed from 24-105mm and as wide as 14mm if I use the Nikon diffusion dome or the wide angle adapter.  The article covers how to set up your zoom on the flash when shooting with a couple of different types of umbrellas (shoot-through or reflective) and knowing the information contained within can save you a lot of heartache.  Here’s the link.

Next on today’s list is a pretty hot little piece of info. that I found when I was browsing David’s blog.  Midwest Photo Exchange carries the Cactus V2s Wireless Flash Trigger kit that I have mentioned and use personally.  They sell the kit as well as individual receivers so that you can add receivers to your setups as you add speedlights.  I wish I would have known this since I ordered mine from Gadget Infinity in Hong Kong and had to wait about a week for them to arrive.  Midwest Photo Exchange sells them at the same price as you would pay for them on eBay or direct from Gadget Infinity and you probably won’t have to wait quite as long.  If you are thinking about picking up a kit for your own speedlights, stop thinking and just do it.  It’s the best $30.00 you will spend for a radio slave kit.  Think of it this way, you would have to buy six of these kits to equal the price of ONE Pocket Wizard.  Don’t get me wrong, people RAVE about PWs, but I would rather spend the extra dough on something else.  Go check out Midwest Photo Exchange and get off the fence!

That’s it for today folks.  As you may have noticed, I’m setting more of a schedule with regards to the content that I post to give you more of an idea of what to expect on what days.  If you have comments, suggestions, or would like to see something specific please let me know!  Have a great day!

Tuesday News Reel

Welcome to this edition of Tuesday News Reel.  I finally have a connection to the internet that moves at a decent speed, so here’s what’s happening:

  • This week is the last week to register for Photoshop World and save yourself $100 off the registration cost.  If you’re planning on attending, the cutoff for Early Bird registration is Feb. 29th.  That said, here’s the link if you want to save yourself some cash.
  • Joe McNally held an event and book signing at B&H Photo recently and not only did he sell out, he set the record for attendance for Event Space attendance at B&H!!!  Way to go Joe!  If you haven’t been reading Joe’s blog, I highly recommend you check it out.  Here’s the link.
  • Speaking of Joe, I recently got my hands on my very own copy of his new book, “The Moment It Clicks”.  I’m about halfway through it since I picked it up on Friday night and I plan on writing a review of it here so be on the lookout for that.  I would have been done with it already, but I did quite a bit of shooting over the weekend.
  • Sigma announced the launch of a 4.5mm F2.8 EX DC Circular Fisheye HSM lens.  If you love fisheye lenses or being able to shoot ultra, ultra-wide, this could be the lens for you.  It’s specifically designed for DSLRs with APS-C (non-full frame) sensors and it features a High Speed Motor so it will focus on cameras without a focus motor like the D40.  MSRP is $1,400.00 and you can find out more about it on Sigma’s website.

That’s it for today.  I hope you have a great day and I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

How I Got This Shot: Beach Landscape

OC_Beach_24FEB08

Happy Monday everyone!  I know, I know… it’s hard to be excited.  The weekend’s over and it’s back to work for most of us.  Today I bring to you Round 2 of “How I Got This Shot”. 

The image above was taken in Ocean City, MD.  Since I am still in Wallops Island, VA I decided to take a couple of trips over the weekend and shoot.  Ocean City is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the North and I had never been there before.  It’s a quaint little beach town with a boardwalk that’s 3 miles long!  The beach is clean (along with the rest of the town) which makes for a really nice place to visit.  Although it was only about 42 degrees yesterday, it was still nice to be at the beach.

I took the shot at about 5:20 PM EST right from the boardwalk.  The sun was setting to my right and over my shoulder a bit.  The clouds in the sky created some awesome color that you see above.  I shot it handheld at f/11, 1/30, ISO 200, and Auto White Balance with an 18-135mm Nikkor lens at 18mm.  Notice that I applied the “Rule of Thirds” and placed my horizon line in the lower 1/3 of the frame instead of smack-dab in the middle of the frame like you see in most snapshots.  It’s one simple little trick you can use to start making your images look more like the pros, no matter what kind of camera you shoot with. 

Post processing was done strictly in Lightroom.  Some stuff you have to take to Photoshop to process, but probably 75% of my work is processed only in Lightroom.  To me, that means that I’m getting most of it right in the camera!

That’s it for this Monday.  I’ll be in Wallops for the rest of the week and then it’s back home on Friday!  I can’t wait as it’s always hard to be away from your family even if I’m getting to go shooting while I’m gone.  Tune in tomorrow for another edition of “Tuesday News Reel” (hopefully my internet connection will hold up so I can bring you some news)!  Have a great day and an awesome week! 🙂

“No Post” Update

Okay, so there really IS a reason why I haven’t posted anything since Monday this week.  The place that I’m staying at here in Wallops Island, VA has HORRIBLE Wi-Fi service and the connection speed is slower half the speed of smell.  It’s rediculous.  At any rate, as soon as I get some more bandwidth or I can get another connection somewhere else, I will have some more posts for you.  Please bare with me and I look forward to bringing you some more great info.  For now, I’ll continue one feeling like a slacker! 🙂