Tag Archives: nikon

D300 firmware update now has copyright info

This is just a fast post to encourage you to upgrade the firmware of your D300. The overwhelming reason is that you can not enter copyright information to be embedded into the EXIF data of all your images. There are some other fixes like a bit faster focusing and higher shutter speeds in automatic mode. But the copyright info is a biggie to anyone who shoots for a living, or even if you dont, you should put in your info to show ownership on the chance that someone “borrows” your image.

You can download the new firmware from here at Nikon.

To set up the D300 for copyrihg information, follow these directions:

D300 -> Setup Menu -> Copyright Information

“Attach copyright information” setting checked

“Copyright information” setting to “ON.

The information can be entered in upper and lower case plus you can use symbols.

Here is all the details of the upgrade:

  • The Highlights playback option has been moved from Display Mode > Basic photo info > Highlights in the playback menu to Display mode > Detailed photo info > Highlights.
  • The size and color of “Demo” displayed in the monitor with playback when No memory card? in the Custom Settings has been set to Enable Release have been modified.
  • The range of settings available for ISO sensitivity settings > ISO sensitivity auto control > Minimum shutter speed in the shooting menu has been increased from 1/250 – 1s to 1/4000 – 1s.
  • When shooting in hand-held live view mode and the frame is magnified prior to autofocusing, operation has been modified so that display returns to the magnified display rather then the full frame display.
  • Images captured with Rotate tall, in the playback menu, set to On, are not automatically rotated for display immediately after capture (image review).
  • A Copyright information has been added to the setup menu. When Copyright information is enabled, the copyright symbol ( © ) is shown in the shooting info display.
  • Recent settings can now be displayed in the place of My Menu.
  • Custom Setting e3 Flash cntrl for built in flash ( e3 Optional flash when an optional Speedlight is mounted on the camera) can now be added to My Menu using the Add items > Custom setting menu > Bracketing/ flash.
  • The degree of the High ISO NR setting can now be confirmed in the shooting info display while the High ISO NR setting item, in the shooting menu, is being applied.
  • Ankara, Riyadh, Kuwait, and Manama have been added to the Time zone options for the World time item in the setup menu.
  • When a GPS device is used and no heading information is available, –.–° is now displayed for the Position / Heading option in the GPS item in the setup menu.
  • When shooting in live view mode using Camera Control Pro 2 (ver. 2.2.0 or later) with a PC-E lens, the aperture setting can now be adjusted from the computer.
  • Focus acquisition performance in dynamic-area AF mode has been improved.
  • Focus acquisition performance with contrast-detect AF has been improved.
  • Auto white balance performance has been improved.
  • The fourth digit in seconds display for GPS latitude and longitude information is now rounded off rather than omitted.
  • The current MB-D10 battery type setting can now be confirmed in the shooting menu display when R6/AA- size batteries are used with the Multi-Power Battery pack MB-D10.
  • An issue that caused an increase in noise when shooting in [M] exposure mode at a shutter speed setting of bulb with the shutter held open for less than 8 seconds and Long exp. NR enabled has been resolved.
  • An issue that prevented shutter release at the specified shutter speed when no operations were performed for 30 seconds in mirror up mode has been resolved.
  • An issue that caused abnormal image display when Image review was set to On and the playback zoom in button was pressed immediately after shooting at the following settings has been resolved.
  • Image quality: NEF (RAW) + JPEG
  • NEF (RAW) recording: Lossless compressed or Compressed
  • Image size: S or M
  • When the Speedlight SB-800 was mounted on the camera with flash mode set to distance-priority manual (GN) mode, and the camera recovered from standby mode triggered by the auto meter off function, the distance information in the SB-800 changed. This issue has been resolved.
Posted in copyright, editing software, equipment, firmware, Hardware, photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Come Sail Away

One thing that a photographer needs to learn (truthfully, most people need this) is how to make lemonade from life’s lemons tossed your way. I had the absolute misfortune of being taken off my flight at Heathrow airport due to the ash cloud shutdown of Europe’s airspace on April 15, 2010. We were loaded and ready to go when we were told “everybody off”. I was one of the lucky ones, I was able chase down my luggage and clear customs with relative speed, only about three hours. Some other had not gotten their luggage in three days after the event.

Two days after Heathrow shutdown

Two days after Heathrow shutdown

3rd day of ALL FLIGHTS CANCELLED

3rd day of ALL FLIGHTS CANCELLED

I had booked my flight with a very good travel agent, Linda Christen since I was going overseas and past experience has taught me to avoid the self service sites like Orbitz and Travelocity like the plague. She was able to dig up a room at a local hotel when all hotels were saying “we are full”. It was not a cheap room but definitely cheaper than many around it and the neighborhood sucked being right at the airport. However, it was clean and beat having to go to London proper which was twenty miles or so away then having to either cab it or take the underground back each I needed to be at the airport. During the week it took me to get out of Heathrow, I had over nine flight cancellations in six days. I had to extend my room four times. And even when they opened the airport, my airline still cancelled flights and would not take new reservations due to the existing flights already being booked up weeks in a advance. Some airlines were and still are offering specials to booked passengers who are willing to cancel their flights to free up seats. So it was looking something the first week of May before I could really consider getting out.

First Flight from Heathrow in 5 days

First Flight from Heathrow in 5 days

This brings up something very important to anyone traveling not just photographers, make damn sure you have a good line of credit. I brought my ATM card which is how I normally pay for things but I also had brought my business AmericanEx card plus one MasterCharge with a fairly good limit and nothing on it. As it turns out, since I had the MC card AND I had called them ahead of time to let them know I was going to be in the UK, I had zero issues with using the card, even to charge the cruise to it. All sorts of people around me were struggling with cards maxed out or not being accepted because they were overseas and so on. The good thing is by putting the cruise on a single empty card, I know exactly what part of this debacle is the cruise and which part is the hotel. Since my flight was booked on AmEx card, I might get some of it back via the built in insurance policy but we shall see.

Since I had been in Oxford on a holiday to see my eldest daughter, I had not planned on being out of country more than 6 days. So by week two, laundry was becoming an issue. I had been able to take advantage of the dorm laundry when I was visting so I had a buffer of a few days of clean clothes. However, it also that meant that in a few days I was in the shower washing shirts and underwear while getting myself clean. Since I never knew when I could leave, I could not risk the paid laundry since it took two days. My hotel did not have any kind of gift shop, so I had to shop at other and nicer hotels to buy razors and other supplies. This was a one mile hike to get the closest one and I found a minimart at a carwash that had some soap and sold cheap boxed sandwiches to avoid the twenty pound lunch at the hotel.

In the end, a very crazy idea that I had on saturday night paid off. I had sent an email to my travel agent to see about booking passage on the Queen Mary 2 which I had read on the internet was leaving in a few days out of Southhampton. And yes, she thought I was nuts but she humored me and she put my name on the wait list of two hundred people. This was before the ongoing flight cancellations all week. I had done it as a “last resort” type of thing and when I got a call on Weds saying there was a cabin available, the waitlist had over 1,500 people. I had a flight for thursday but American Airlines would not confirm the flight would even take place. As it turns out, it did not take place. So for about 2/3s of the price of staying in a hotel for yet another week plus bad food, I was able to get a cabin on the biggest and the only true Ocean Liner left in the world.

My ride home - Queen Mary 2

My ride home - Queen Mary 2

Oh yes, I am terribly underdressed for this event. In fact, as I write this entry, everyone around me is getting ready for Captian’s Night which I have zero chance of attending as it’s tux only. I dont even have slacks much less a tux, I have good working jeans that travel well 🙂 But the food at the buffet is very good and my jeans are perfectly acceptable there.

Queen Mary 2 Grand Staircase

Queen Mary 2 Grand Staircase

Now, what does all this have to do with photography? Plenty, the photographic opportunities aboard the QM2 are amazing. I have seven days to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. There so much art and architecture on the ship to shoot that it’s a perfect place to practice and refine your craft without the pressure of time.

Queen Mary 2 Sunset on the first night

Queen Mary 2 Sunset on the first night

The QM2 has wireless in most cabins and in most public places. If you buy a block of eight hours, you will pay about thirty five cents a minute for internet. Not cheap but it’s enough to get email and upload small sized images to sites like Flickr or a blog. A side benifit of the wireless is that while the Queen has cell coverage, I can use Skype to call home. Why use Skype and not my cell? because even with international roaming, the voice charges are 1.40 USD per MINUTE and the data rates are 11.00 USD per megabyte. By contrast, I paid 167.00 USD for 8 hours of internet time which works out to be .35 cents per minute. Skype is free plus the .35 cents per minute so this is a no brainer.

This leads to yet another piece of advice for really anyone nowadays traveling. Bring a laptop or even a netbook that is fully loaded with the various applications like Skype, FTP, a couple of different browsers and emergency software like file recovery and/or flash card recovery software. In my own case, I had just gotten a new 13 inch Macbook Pro but I not had a chance to load all my favorite items on it and I decided pretty much at the last minute to take old reliable which is a 15 inch Macbook Pro from three years ago. A very good choice on my part since I have all my normal software loaded so I can edit and adjust images, post to my blog, phone home and more.

So with the travel tips finished, lets move on to shooting pictures on a cruise ship. On the ship, one problem is that they use a type of florescent light that is very yellow in color and will wreak havoc on your white balance. The best thing is to shoot RAW and correct in post. Lighting inside tends to be dim so ISO 800 is more the rule to get a decent shutter speed while shooting at F2.8 to F4.

The lens of choice so far after three days of shooting is my 11-24mm F4. So much of the ship is expansive and you really need the wide angle to bring it all in. I had my 17-55 F2.8 but so far I have not had a need for it. Another excellent item to have is a really good point and shoot. I brought my new G11 with me as a test and it has been getting quite the unintended workout in the past three weeks. The camera is perfect for most shooting on the ship but it has a very hard time with bright and dark in the same image. When the lights blow out, they blow big and fringe badly. So in some cases, I have taken my D300 and gone back to locations to get nicer shots that I had shot first with my G11.

Queen Mary 2 Quiet Time

Queen Mary 2 Quiet Time

The color issues can be adjusted in post so long as you are shooting RAW. With JPEGs, it will almost impossible to correct well. What is interesting is that while I see it as a pale yellow, the camera sees it as a vivid yellow, very intense. This ship also has halegon spots all over and when the two lights mix, it’s very tough to get a good white balance. I brought a set of gels with me so I will probably break out the SB800 and my gels to see if I can gel the lights. For that matter, I might just tape the gel to my G11 for a fast test. I brought a small roll of gaffers tape, dont you travel with some wrapped around a sharpy? You should!

Something else to consider when on the road, I have bought what I called “Extended Manuals” from Amazon via their Kindle service. I then use the iPhone version of the Kindle software to have these manuals for the D300 and G11 at the ready for reference. This is very important for times like now when I’m toting a new camera along for the first time.

Another invaluable accessory that I bought recently was the Luma camera strap. I also bought an extra lanyard for it. So I have one camera strap for two cameras. And when I have to clear security like getting on to the Queen Mary for example, it’s a simple matter of unclipping the lanyard and then reclipping it when I’m done. No more trying to lift a strap over my head, hat, jacket etc. To be honest while the Luma is awesome for the G11, I prefer my Rapid Strap for the D300, even more so with a long lens on it. The lanyard will twist and let the bounce around quite a bit on my hip whereas the BlackRapid strap tends to hold the camera against my hip and in the same position all the time.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Hardware, lenses, photography, technique, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s all in the wrist or how to shoot car races successfully

I think we photographers at times get caught up in the latest hardware or widget that promises to make us the hot shot photographer we want to be. And we then forget about some very basic skill sets that we knew at one time and should probably remember more often.

I had the chance to see the NASCAR AAA 500 out in Fontana this weekend in one of the private suites on the infield. Amazing view of the race, the cars, the sound and the action. I got very lucky to be there and to get to take tours of the pits and the garages so I made the most of it by bringing along my D300, 17-55 F2.8 and my “big gun, the 70-200 F2.8 VR. For the garage stuff, the 17-55 was cool but it was hopeless out matched trying to shoot the cars zooming by at 180 MPH. The 70-200 was my top gun for most of this effort and I got to experiment some since I had time on my hands watching cars go in circles for a few hours.

The track wakes up

Even at 1/2000 shutter, you could not get a clear shot of the cars while holding everything still. You had to, guess!!! you had to PAN the camera and pan it FAST. One of the most basic skills that I used to shoot these shots has me finding out that people are astounded that it works. I did have to make sure I was not going to clock my neighbors on the left side with the lens as I swung it around in an arc very fast. That 70-200 VR F2.8 is a solid and heavy lens, it would really do some damage to hit someone up side the head with it.

Number 33

What makes a good NASCAR or any racing car picture? In a word, motion! at 1/1250 shutter, everything was crisp and you could read the letters on the tires with a good smooth pan. But the car did not show any motion so it looked like a model placed on the track. At 1/800, you had crisp with the letters on the tires blurred. By the time I got to 1/250, it was sweet.. blurred track, blurred fans and blurred lettering but with a good pan, the car would be crisp. Now I had the money shots.

Close Quarters

Next tip was to shoot full manual and in RAW. Why? because the lighting changed CONSTANTLY and to get the fastest focusing and consistent shots, the camera needed to be locked down. RAW because of the random lighting, many times in post, I had to bring up or down about 1/2 stop to get the exposure right on the money. RAW let me do that and to really dial in the colors without fear of trashing the image like you would in a JPEG.

Next tip? Easy.. prefocus the camera and then let it fine tune it on the pan. This gets the fastest automatic focus you can get.. plus having it in continuos focus mode. If the camera has to waste time moving the focus from the middle of the range to the extreme end, you will miss the cars every time.

On fast subjects like these cars, dont forget to LEAD the subject, just shooting a gun. And shoot rapidly, I did 3 FPS which was plenty.. the guy behind me was shooting at 8FPS but then he also had the big assed 500MM and was probably getting paid to be there.

Still using Holley carbs

Dont forget that it’s a story and not just cars. Shoot the pits because that can be VERY exciting. I also shot quite a bit in the garages getting very interesting detail shots of the templates being used, car testing, cars on stands, mechanics working etc. All of this can really keep a persons interest as they go through your pictures.
Army's driver Ryan Newman and interviewer

Walk around, change locations to get different angles, 300 images from the same place will look BORING in short order.

Ready to roll

Posted in equipment, event photography, Hardware, lenses, photography, technique Also tagged , , , , |

Stabilize me

It used to be in the old days, you needed a shutter speed roughly the same as the focal length of your lens. So if you were shooting with a 200mm lens, you need to use about 1/250 to have a chance at a reasonable sharp lens. And telephones were the worst since their length amplifies the wiggles of unsteady hands, age, too much caffine and so on. If you were active, it was worse. You learned to pan very carefully, you learned to cradle the camera right up against your body like a gun. And you still ended up with fuzzy images.

Move up 20 years and now we have IS (Image Stabilization), VR (Vibration reduction) and other names for the same thing. Some work in the lens and some work in the body of the camera. It has become cheap enough that most new point and shoots have a form of it available. I can hand hold the lens at 1/80 and get a sharp image at a wedding without a tripod or monopod. In other words, I can get difficult shots much easier.

VR will not save the world in spite of the marketing propaganda. Sure, you can shoot at 1/10 F5.6 and get a sharp picture but whats the point if the subject is moving? Like kids at a party? So you get a sharp wall and a blur that was the kid running past.

But what does it DO? In simple terms, with the Nikon, there is a package of electronics that move the front element of the lens set actively to get the sharpest image when the shutter is triggered. On many Nikon DLSRs, you can hear a “clunk” as the system engages. I know alot of professional photographers who sneer at VR (I shoot Nikon, so I know this system) as a crutch and that “real” photographers do not use VR. To be honest, I did too for a while and then I thought VR would save the world but finally I understand that VR is just another tool that an help or hinder depending on how I use it.

For example, I spent quite a bit of money on a 70-200mm F.8 lens that is also VR. Why VR on a “fast” piece of glass you ask? Well, the lens can take amazinly sharp images but with the VR engaged, I expand my working range of settings. Instead of having to be still at 1/250 shutter, I can be in a car at 80 MPH and shooting 1/360 at F8 with the lens racked out at 200 mm and still get sharp images inspite of the car and the camera bouncing around on the roadway.

Lets take a look at VR (IS) and see when it’s useful. A typical arrangement for Nikon shooters is to use something like a D80/D90 with a 18-200mm F4.5 VR zoom. So the typical shooting would be something like ISO 1000 to 1600 to keep the noise manageable. So shooting at F4 which is wide open for this lens means in a semi-dark event, that you are shooting something like 1/20 of second shutter. It will be bad enough that the subjects will be moving but at 1/10-1/20 hand holding a zoom lens at something like 100mm on average means alot of blurry pictures. On the other hand, VR will at least give a clear image of what is not moving while you shoot. VR normally is like 3 stops.. so the 1/20 is really shooting at about 1/60 to 1/100 “apparent” shutter speed. It wont stop the action but the background, tables etc will be sharp. Where VR really shines is shooting something like a stage show with enough light that you will be shooting about 1/60 ish and you are shooting long like 100 to 200mm. The shutter is just fast enough to catch people standing still and the VR will give a good focus even at 200mm since the “apparent” shutter is around 1/200.

Here is a family shot taken at 200mm with a 18-200mm zoom shooting wide open at F5.6 and 1/100 shutter. Normally, this would have blurred unless taken with a tripod or supported some how. In this case the camera was held by hand and resting on my forearm. The VR gave a clear image with the low shutter speed relative to the smallish aperture.

Little Angels

VR is not a cure all and it does cost you some in clairity at least in the cheaper lenses like the NIkon 18-55mm VR and 18-200 VR. I always seem to see a bit of softness instead of a really sharp focus with these lenses. This even holds true for the expensive F2.8 VR but on that lens it is very dependent on how bright the image is. Shooting VR in good conditions gives a razor sharp image that you can count nose hairs with. In low light, it’s a bit fuzzy on the edges. But I got the image and it’s usable unlike shooting with it and not getting a usable image. I find that a high pass sharpening works wonders at cleaning up the edges.

Here is another shot where VR really makes a difference. I shot several pictures together by hand at night with the F4 aperture and about 1/30 shutter. Then I stitched them all together. With the VR, all of the images were sharp in spite of hand holding and the low shutter speed.

Christmas Block

VR works in the daytime also. One of my favorite lenses to shoot with for daily stuff is a Nikon lens that costs about 150 USD and looks like it might blow away in a stiff breeze. It’s scary light when you pick it up but it can really take some nice pictures when given a chance.

These images were taken with the 18-55mm VR and both images have sold. It is not always about the equipment.

This image of the Disney California Adventure Zephyr was taken by hand with a shutter of 1/2 second

Zephyr

This image was taken using a shutter of 1/40 and panning with the zoom at 18mm. Look how sharp the people and rocket is. Hard to believe it was a 150 dollar lens huh?

Rocket Ride

So the bottom line is that stabilization is your friend and even in a cheap lens, it can really make a world of difference. You just need to know the limits of VR (IS) and remember that some basic rules apply even with VR. Shutter speed is shutter speed, a slow shutter will give blurred motion to moving objects without or with VR enabled. Stationary objects work best with VR. VR is not perfect but it will certainly help.

Posted in equipment, event photography, Hardware, lenses, photography, technique, wedding photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Are you focused?

One of the hidden features of higher end digital DSLRs is the ability to micro-tune the autofocus. This stems from the fact that any mass produced widget has a perfect setting and a high and low allowable setting. You have seen and heard this referred to “plus or minus X”. But in mass production, nothing is perfect so the lenses and camera bodies both will have a plus or minus tolerance on their autofocus settings. The problem arises when the body is at the end of the acceptable tolerance and the lens is off the same way and maybe at the end of it’s acceptable tolerance. The aggregate plus or minus is far beyond acceptable can show up as a “back focusing lens” or a “front focusing lens”. This is where you set your focus point on, say the eyes and you get the nose instead when using a shallow depth of field.

People will try several lenses to get one that works well with their camera body when all the while it’s the body that is off adjustment. Meanwhile the lens manufacturer takes the hit for making “junk” lenses. Newer and higher camera bodies such as the Nikon D300 have an adjustment for this very thing but very few photographers even know about it. To use it is pretty easy and can be cheap or if you are bit more picky, somewhat pricy to use. In both cases the tools are the same, a marked ruler and a way to present it at a 45 degree angle.

The cheap way is to go to Tim Jackson’s website and download the PDF with directions and the ruler chart. The cost is how much the piece of paper costs you. Follow the directions here to actually make the adjustment.

The more expensive but professional and repeatable way is to buy a LensAlign Focus Calibration System. This fun tool comes from rawworkflow.com and while not cheap, makes a very professional and very repeatable alignment station. This allows you to check and tune the lens and body anytime something has changed or just as an annual item.

It my own case, I have both, the paper and the fancy tool. I tried the paper first since there was a Christmas delay in getting the real tool and I was impatient. I have a 50 mm 1.8 lens that I like but never was as sharp at 1.8 as everyone said it should be. I also was of the opinion that it was a “junk” lens. I did the fast check with the free tool and I was stunned at what it showed.

Out of Focus 50mm 1.8
50mm 1.8 out of focus

After a fast adjustment on the D300
50mm 1.8 now in focus

NOW the 50mm works like it should on my D300. So much for the junk lens. All of my lenses were off some but the 50 was the worst. Perhaps as a cheap lens, it does not get the same level of care in the final adjustments. The 50mm is so far off that it probably should be sent in for a alignment but given the cost of the lens, it’s not worth it but this provides me a way to use it effectively on my D300s.

Not all DLSRs have this feature, for example, my D90 does not but the D300 does. I would suspect that the average consumer with a D90 is not shooting tight wide open shots where a couple of mm’s one way or the other matter alot. I know when I started off shooting a 35mm film camera, I was happy just to get the background to blur out, much less everything around an eyeball 🙂 And times have not changed that much, most people are happy with a in focus picture without a worry about the depth fo field. It’s the pro’s that care about this sort of thing and even then, it’s the pro’s who are shooting wide open and need that critical focus point because it will make or break the entire picture.

I will post my results from the more expensive tool vs. the free PDF in a later post.

Posted in commercial photography, equipment, lenses, photography Also tagged , , , , |

Save a buck

Lets be honest, most photographers are equipment junkies. We view lenses and camera widgets like a crack addict views crack, cant get enough and no matter how much we do get, we want more. To aid you in this endeavor, I want to offer up some tips I have used over the years to at the least, lower the acquisition cost of new toys.

One of the biggest expenses is good, fast and heavy glass.. primes or zooms, they cost a mint to buy new. For example, I wanted a Nikon 17-55m F2.8 for shooting weddings and events. It’s heavy, temperamental focusing but when it’s on, it is VERY good. The damn thing also costs 1,600 bucks new even at a discount. So what is a poor boy to do? Can you say “Ebay”? But, you say, the lenses on ebay are abused, no warranty, grey market, stolen etc. All true to be sure but with some careful shopping and planning, you can pull the deal of the year. Here is how I got mine at less than half the new price.

The economy tanking has driven down the prices somewhat on good glass but it really has brought alot more on the market. Some of the glass are what I call “trophy” pieces, bought when times were good and the person had too much money in their pocket. Now times are tough and cash is needed so the trophies go on the auction block. These are what to look for and careful reading of the ads can help as can a bit of luck. Even a high milage wedding lens IF at a GOOD price will work for this tip. Even a damaged lens so long as the glass is good. I found my lens from a seller with good marks (200 plus postives), good price as a “buy now or best offer” AND I had an Ebay coupon that was 10% off the price. So the 800 price came with free shipping (20 bucks), 80 bucks off with the coupon and another 25 bucks off due to my best offer. Total saved was 125 so the lens cost me 675 delivered.

But, it is still a used lens and when I got it, I noticed the zoom was stiff in the middle. Here is where the second part of my plan came into being. I specifically found a lens with good glass and no apparent damage but I had already planned on sending the lens to Nikon’s repair shop for a “tune up and alignment”. So opened the box, looked at the lens, closed it back up and shipped it to Nikon. Three weeks later I got my lens back completely rebuilt and repaired from an apparent drop onto something hard. Cost was 190 dollars but after the savings adjustment of the purchase, my out of pocket expense was 65 dollars for basically a new lens. I also pursued the seller for not telling the truth about the lens and got some wedding album templates for my troubles. He really should have known better but hard times caused him to make a poor judgement. His karma, not mine.

In the end, the lens cost me 865 total and it’s new on the inside. A brand new lens is 1600 plus tax of 130 plus shipping of 20 for a total of 1750. So my price is just a touch less than 50% of new. Yes it cost me in time with a week or so for the seller to get me the lens and another three in repair but I think it was worth it.

My second lens was a 12-24mm F4 which cost me about 60% of new from eBay and cam to me looking and working like brand new.

So deals on ebay can be had with some patience and luck. Another way to save is look at refurbished bodies. My D300 was 400 less than new as a refurb and there was absolutely nothing on it or in how it worked to tell me it was a used camera. The warranty is a bit different than new but Square Trade or in some case, the seller like Adorama offer extra warranties if you feel the need. In my case, I have insurance through PPA that covers all my equipment from theft and damage.

Craiglist is another potential gold mine of cheaper equipment. I found a very nice Nikon D70s (electronic shutter so sync speeds are upwards of 1/4000 with flash) for a cheap price locally. I also picked up a fourth SB800 flash for about 2/3s of new, it was well used but still very serviceable.

Posted in commercial photography, equipment, Hardware, photography Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Clouds

Clouds are cool, they float around mostly unnoticed by many of us but they are very interesting. All kinds of shapes, sizes, moods and lighting. Clouds can really set a mood in a picture by adding some dynamics to a plain sky or drama when the clouds are dark, backlit or just plain old threatening. So what is a photographer to do? Take pictures of course! I keep a older Canon SD500 which has been hacked to shoot raw with me all the time in my truck and most times, on my person. When I see interesting clouds in the sky, I snap a few pictures and add them to my collection of clouds to use as backdrops, sky replacements, sky enhancements and textures. After several months, I have a very interesting collection of clouds with all kinds of shapes, lighting and sizes. Even in CA we have clouds even if we dont get much rain.

This shot was taken with with my Canon at 6AM outside my front door. I can use it in all kinds of images to add visual images. While this is not taken with a state of the art megapixel camera, it is a five megapixel shot and perfectly usable image for textures or background.

So remember to enjoy looking up in the sky and remember to take a few snaps, you never know when they could be useful to you in your photography

Morning Clouds

Posted in photography Also tagged , , , , , , , |