Image of the Week #4

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  by Chris

Seagull Flying

Gold in Flight

This seagull was pictured in Maryland. Time of day was shortly before sunset. The golden setting sun front-lit the bird, while the dark overcast sky behind provides an interesting contrast. Lesson here is the even a somewhat common bird like a seagull may look glorious, when light correctly.

Prime Lenses: Why use them instead of a zoom?

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  by Chris

There are a number of obvious technical advantages of a prime lens over their zoom companions (sharpness, wider aperture, less distortion in most cases), but covered in this post will be the mental reason why to use primes over zooms. This is not to say that primes are the prefered lenses for all cases, nor that have not a place in the wise photographer’s gear bag. Each tool has its uses, but the prime lens is a tool of amazing power, largely for intangible reasons. The prime lens is the ultimate lens for photographic creativity, not only because the broad apertures permit a beautiful shallow depth of field, but principally because they change the photographer.

First, the prime lens trains the eye. In October 2010, when I was in Colorado, my 70-300 IS fell to its death on Mount Princeton. My remaining lenses were my Sigma 10-20, Canon 50 1.4, and 300 f4 (I also had a 17-85, but wasn’t using it; if I remember right, my friend Alo had it…). I also had a 1.4x TC. Between those three lenses, few were the shots I missed. I kept the 50 1.4 on the camera most of the time, where it worked its magic. I began to see scenes through the eyes of the 50 1.4, 300 f4, or 10-20 (which is nearly a prime…). This Providential exercise taught me previsualization. Being able to see a scene before it jumps into the camera completely changes the shooting. Lame scenes are avaoided. Unseen views are made visible, as subtle details emerge in a previously overlooked view. If you wish to be a better photographer, take your 50mm prime on a walk (if you lack one, get it today! They are cheap, probably the cheapest lens you will ever buy, and they have great image quality!). Go somewhere, anywhere really, and learn to see through its eyes, if you will, and let it teach yours. You will begin to see potential pictures around you you could capture, instead of the vague undefined scene of before; which introduces our second reason, simplification.

Second, the prime lens simplifies. Instead of hunting around on a zoom lens to see how things will look, you will have but one focal length with which to be concerned at a time (you can of course have other primes in your bag, eagerly awaiting to serve their purpose!). And this will clear your mind and aid your vision, producing images with a little more thought and a little less carelessness. You will need to take a few steps back or forth to use a prime, as your feet will be your only zoom. But this will bring an added blessing: changing perspective.

Third, a prime lens illuminates the user to perspective. A zoom lens will permit the user to remain stationary as he attempts to frame his image without a bit of changed perspective. But every bit of movement of the camera causes a changed perspective. As you momove about with a prime, you will be much more aware of the relationships of the elements in your frame than you would be otherwise.

A prime lens is the ultimate photographic tool for creative photography. Try one today! This experiment is your homework: put a prime lens (of any focal length, but your life will be easier if you use one between 24 and 100…) on, and enter your front yard (or back yard, or city street, or wherever so else you may go), and take a walk around and practice seeing. Shoot carefully and thoughtfully, and practice taking creative pictures, with perspectives you don’t often use. Practice what happens when you zoom with a prime, and see what the difference a few feet of perspective can make. Try using your shallowest aperture, and see what comes out. Stop down only when absolutely needed. Let me know how it goes!

What’s new…

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  by Chris

Shot the sunrise on Fort Lauderdale Beach, will hopefully get some shots up… nothing too amazing, but maybe something good… Also, am heading to Marylad to see my family. Maybe, I will get to see some Bald Eagles! Southern Maryland is a unique area will some rather interesting landscapes: tobacco barns! Mostly, they are falling apart, which makes things all the better!

Beware of Marketing: Professional, Really?

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  by Chris

Whilst diving deep in the depths of the internet, I came accross this article:

From the deginning, the reader MUST understand that this is a promotional article on a manufacturer’s website, and take all he reads therein with a grain of salt (or more). The article proposes that the Tami 18-250 is the only lens a wedding photographer would ever need, except maybe occasionally a ultra-wide Tami 11-18 (do they still make those?). The article directly states that this is a professional lens which produces professional results.

The first question you must ask, o reader, is: “What does professional mean?” Aside from the “what defines a profession” argument, the general understanding of professional is somethins which is up to generally high industry standards; that is, much better than the common layman or peon could manage on his own. A professional product or service is usually one which is produced or performed by a person who is paid to do it and does what he does on a regular basis. The final product or service is (supposed to be) high quality, usually meeting some standard of excellence.

With this in mind, one considers then the proposition of this ppost: that the Tami 18-250 is a professional one-size-fits-all lens, which professionals use to capture professional images. First, an examination of the images from the wedding (the best of the best, the ones Tamron wants you to see and covet). Though a few of the images are fairly decent as far as composition is concerned, the simple fact is: NONE of these images even look remotely professional! THey all look like snapshots! Particularly telling is the phrase where the author of this article tells how he decided he didn’t need his hotshoe flash, and instead opted for his pop-up! The images certain look like it…

The first picture, of the bride and groom in the limo, is clearly shot with pop-up flash. The harsh shadows (especially around her chin) kill this picture. The lighting is flat, uncreative, and simple unemotive. And, it is clear that this image was shot with a pretty narrow aperture lens (and, there’s a girl in the back window ~! Not to be picky, but this is supposed to be professional!). The picture of the crowns is sharp but boring. No creativity there! Pop-up flash to the rescue! Then the images of the ceremony… a wee bit of cropping could help them some… but worst perhaps is 1. the lack of any sort of background blur and 2. the lighting! The industry standard for these shots are images whose backgrounds fade out of focus into a pleasing blur (apertures of 2.8 on the zooms, usually 1.4 or even 1.2 on the primes). These shots completely show the utter lack of real pfofessional competency of this lens! Then the lighting: the bridwe and bridesmaids have large highlight blowouts on their arms and faces! This is not only unflattering for the subject, but speaks very poorly of the photographer. Maybe if he had used the hotshoe flash afterall…

The point of this article seems to be to lure unsuspecting amateurs into buying this lens. Clearly, it is geared towards the amateur who doesn;t wish to be bothered with lens changes or that pesky hotshoe flash thingie. “Buy this lens and you’ll have professional photos!” The article closes with an invitation to “Just look at the pictures!”. I did. I wasn’t impressed.

You don’t need a one lens fits all lens. (Unless it’s a 50mm 1.4!) You need the right lens for the job. In this case, lenses (about five of them!). My point in my article about this article is: never take shortcuts! This is a shortcut lens, and will give you short cut results. If you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did… you will never acheive your full potential in photography, or in life. Excellent results demand hard work, for which there is no substitute.

Image of the Week

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  by Chris


A rainbow in the Glacier Gorge

I love rainbows (and other optical phenomena), and, upon seeing them, will do all possible to capture them. This view is from near the end of the Glacier Gorge Trail (coming back from Sky Pond). This was the best image I could get of the rainbow. The problems with this image are numerous, yet I still like this image. To wit: out of focus foreground elements, a raindrop on the lens (look above the rainbow),  sticks intruding the right side of the frame, and about 1/2 EV over exposed. Some of these can be fixed in post-processing, but the greatest problem with this image cannot be fixed: The lack of any terribly interesting elements. But, this was all I had to work with, so I fought this image out of what I could see. Two lessons to be learned: one, not every image has to be perfect to be likeable, and two, the most epic rainbow cannot conquer a boring composition. This image doesn’t show up in my Flickr account (for good reasons!). It will probably never be sold. It will never make me any money. But I still like it.

Moreover, I love the sign of this rainbow. After God delivered me from disaster on the Sky Pond hike, God gave me this rainbow to show His great faithfulness.

Colorado 2011 Images

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  by Chris

Here is the link for images from my Colorado trip this September:



Coming Soon…

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  by Chris

Soon will I finish my three part series on the Rule of Thirds. Also coming, some lens reviews. Stay tuned!

A Reason to Smile

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  by Chris

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Seeing that we have a great high priest that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the SOn of God, let us hold fast the profession of our faith. For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly into the throne of grace, that we may find mercy, and obtain grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

A great reason to smile and be thankful is that we have unlimed access to God through the blood of Christ. We sinners receive this access by accepting Jesus as saviour, and partake of this accessas described: “come boldly” to the “throne of grace”. The point of this passage is that God will help us to have victory over sin, in particular, the sin of unbelief, if we will come to Him boldly in prayter. Why smile? Because Jesus died for your sins, because ye have access to the Father, and because you today can live in spiritual victory!

The Nikon 1: A few thoughts

  Posted in Technology on

  by Chris

The Nikon 1, the newest entry in the world of mirrorless, generates a number of thoughts for a Canon shooter as myself. At first blush, it seems a fascinating system: small, compact, able to use legacy lenses… However, reality begins to sink in when viewing the V1’s $899 price tag. As much fun as this may look, the truth is that a Rebel can be gotten for less with a kit lens. For cheap IStelephoto for cheap, there’s the 55-250 IS. Slap in a 50 1.8, and you’ve got an extremely competent, portable system which will well serve most basic needs for as much or less than the equivalent three N1 lenses. With this is fast autofocus, and a much bigger sensor.

But what about portability? Isn’t that what the N1 is all about? Is that not the goal, the purpose, the aim for such a system? The Rebel kit mentioned above will easily fit into a small camera bag. Amazingly enough, the N1 system also requires a camera bag or neck strap~! So wherein lies the benefit? Perhaps some portability is gained, but for the price, this seems ridiculous. Perhaps Canon will come out with one, for cheaper… Perhaps it will snow for Christmas this year in Fort Lauderdale…

In conclusion, though this seems an interesting offering, the high price tag kills it for me. For not much more, I could get the Fuji X100, or maybe a 135 2.0 L, or fly somehere really epic!

New Images Posted from my Everglades Trip

  Posted in Everglades on

  by Chris

There are some new images posted from my everglades trip here:

Enjoy! Many Bothan spies (mosqitos) died to bring you these pictures… Actually, I can still hear the hideous beasts buzzing in my ears occasionally. 10 hours of relentless biting has made me look rather like a measles victim! But it was totally worth it all! Actually, God sent several rain showers of mercy which toned the beasts down for a little while. They were not as bad up at Anhinga trail. They were impressive down at Flamingo. The Deer Flies joined them there. Oh, that I had with me then as assistant! Then would I have gotten said assistant to get pictures of the beasts as they landed and feasted on me… The problem with medical training is that it brings with it an intense medical curiosity. I think a macro of a mosquito chewing on my arm would be most fascinating! I don’t know if I could hold still enough for a Deer Fly picture.

All dipteran discussion aside, God blessed me with an incredible day of shooting. I hope to post more pictures as I process them…