An Update from Sea

Sunrise at Sea

As I’m sure you have noticed by now, the blog has been pretty quiet for the past 10 days or so. Out here I have VERY limited connectivity and only occasionally get the chance to post an update.  I appreciate your understanding and hope that you’ll continue to check back every so often for an update.

I captured the image above with my iPhone 4 while I was out on deck early one morning.  Some of the best sunrises and sunset are had out at sea, and I wanted to share this one with you.

The iPhone 4 has the best camera yet of any of the iPhones.  It’s faster and the images that come out of it just plain rock! I’ve even played around with the video camera, which also captures very nice 720p HD video by the way!  (Sample to come later as it’s WAY too big to upload on my connection.)

I hope you enjoy your weekend and have the opportunity to get out and shoot!  Remember, the best camera is the one that you have with you – so if you don’t have one with you then you’re likely to miss out!

All the best,

Stephen

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More Flash For Your Cash?

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WARNING: THIS IS A RANT – NOT A COMPARISON REVIEW!

The other day I had a conversation with someone who was mentioning that he and his crew now only use the SB900 and they have all but thrown out their SB800 flashes.  I mentioned the fact that the SB900 was not worth the cost cost difference for the few added benefits.  He disagreed.

First off, both flashes are excellent folks.  But I have a hard time shelling out an extra hundred bucks over the price of a new SB800 to get a fresnel that zooms to 200mm, a fancy selector switch, 3 selectable light patterns, a flash head that rotates 270 degrees and a little more light output.

Now, the above my sound like a lot and some of you may even think I’m nuts for arguing that they aren’t worth the money.  Why would I say that?

  1. 200mm fresnel zoom – if you’re using 200mm glass and throwing light that far from on camera then you deserve the horrible pictures that will follow.
  2. The selector switch is nice, but it’s fluff.  It’s a thing of convenience.
  3. 3 selectable light patterns – If you want to change the light coming from your flash, there are a great many options out there to change the shape of your light.  Most of them can be made for less than a cup of Starbucks.
  4. 270 rotating flash head – Designed for CLS users, this feature allows you position the flash to more easily be able to get it to see the signal coming from your Commander flash.  I hardly ever use CLS, so this is useless to me.
  5. More light output – the difference in light output isn’t even equal to one whole stop of light.  This would be the most important of the key features and the thing I would be willing to pay money for.  But for $450.00 (B&H pricing) I can buy a Calumet Genesis 200 and an Alienbees Vagabond II battery pack and have a battery-powered strobe that puts out FAR more light than an SB900.

I’m not saying the SB900 isn’t a great flash.  It is.  It’s just not worth the cost difference to me since I use manual flash and trigger them with CyberSyncs.

So which is better?  In my opinion, the SB800 is.  It’s got almost all the same features and just about as much light output for $100.00 less new.  They are still a really popular flash and I see them all the time going for $350.00 used and that was their new price at B&H.  I’ll probably have to wait another 8 years or so to be able to pick them up used for $150.00 like my SB-80DX flashes.

Yes, It’s OK To Blow Out The Background

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I’ve talked to several photographers who struggle with foreground and background exposure.  They get frustrated because they want  a particular shot and want to have the whole photo properly exposed.  In certain situations that can be tough to pull off in the camera – especially when the subject of your photograph is a person or people.

Even if your subject is in shade, the scene might be backlit and that will wash out any background on bright sunny day.  Photographers don’t always have the luxury of picking the time of day that we shoot.  Clients may have a specific time and date in mind and they are likely not going to be what we would consider to be ‘ideal’.

This brings me to the point of this post: it’s OK to let your background blow out.  Doing so can sometimes serve double-duty.  First, having the background blown out adds drama to your photo.  Second, it could possibly help to hide distracting elements in the background of your photo.

For instance, the photo above I shot in the middle of the afternoon on a cloudless day.  The available light was bright and harsh so I put my subjects in front of the pillars which provided shade.  I exposed for my subject (the couple) and let the background blow out.  If I had let my camera make the exposure decision for me, it would have exposed for the sky in the background and my subjects would have been very underexposed.

Sure, I could have double-processed in the image in Photoshop to get a properly exposed foreground and background, but where’s the fun in that?  Rules are meant to be broken.  So challenge yourself and go out and try something new.  Get out of your comfort zone.  You will likely surprise yourself with what you learn.

Friday’s Photo and Update

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Friday is here again and since I haven’t posted an update since Monday, I thought I would share a little about what’s been going on lately.  I have been extremely busy with work, shooting, and editing in addition to doing fun family things and spending time with my wife, my kids, and my parents – who were recently visiting from my hometown of Branson, MO.  We’ve been having a blast and this week has simply flown by.

At work, I am my ship’s photographer and the Assistant Public Affairs Officer.  We recently acquired some new equipment and so I have been busy checking it out and getting it ready to be put into service.  I haven’t had to shoot too much this week at work, which I am thankful for because it has been incredibly busy!

My youngest son and my daughter have both started a T-Ball league (that’s where the photo above came from) and so there are now practices and games to attend, which are going to be great!  I’ll be the photographer dad with the 70-200mm always taking pictures of my kids on the field.  If I had a 600mm you can bet I’d bring that too!

I’m also working on putting together a little project which I am VERY excited about, but it’s too soon to reveal the details now.  I promise that you will be the first to know about it as I will likely announce it here on the blog first.

I hope you have a great weekend and no matter what, find an excuse to get out and shoot a little this weekend.  Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, it will help you improve your craft and sharpen your skills!

All the best,

Stephen

Monday Morning Photo Resources

On a daily basis, I read a LOT about photography and what’s going on in the industry.  There are many great resources out there from which to learn, be inspired, and grow as a photographer.  Today I’m going to share some of the places I visit on a daily basis.  I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Blogs:

There’s my short list – although there are several more places I visit.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to mention a couple of other photographers websites that you should check out:

I hope everyone has a great week!

Gear Deal: Flip Mino HD from B&H Photo

Flip Mino HDFriday is here and I wanted to pass along a great deal from my friends at B&H Photo.  They have the Flip Mino HD on sale for only $184.49!  That’s a smokin’ deal on this awesome little video camera!

If you’re looking to move into shooting a little video either for business or pleasure, here’s a chance go pick one up for a killer price.

I personally use the Flip Mino HD for several things, including shooting video of my kids, family outings, and for photography tutorials.

Don’t miss out on a great deal for a great camera.  If you’re on the fence about buying a pocket camcorder, you had better strike while the iron is hot!

Have a great weekend!

Stephen

How’d You Like to Win A Nikon D300s or a Canon 7D?

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I’ve got some killer news to share with you!  Lexar is offering up a Nikon D300s or a Canon 7D and some glass to boot as the Grand Prize in their sweepstakes that started on July 1st.  The sweepstakes runs through July 31st so you had best get your entry in NOW!

Grand Prize:
One Grand Prize winner will get their choice of a Nikon D300s and a Nikon 16-85mm VR II lens or a Canon 7D and a Canon 18-135mm IS lens.  Included in the package are (2) 16GB Lexar Professional 600x Compact Flash cards and a choice of a Professional UDMA Dual-Slot Card Reader or a Lexar Professional UDMA Firewire 800 Reader.  Not bad!

Second Prize:
(10) Second Place winners will receive their choice of a 16GB Lexar Professional 300x Compact Flash card or a 1GB Lexar Professional 133x SDHC card.

Here’s the link with all the details and how to enter.  Good luck!