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Tag : equipment

04 Apr 2017

I don’t understand photographers traveling light

I’m glad I wasn’t lazy and I had my tripod with me as I was walking around in Pienza, Italy, after sunset and came across kids with their electronics.

I just read another “pro” blog saying to leave your DSLR camera and lenses at home when traveling and just take a small mirrorless camera with one lens. If the purpose of your trip is to make great images, then that is the most stupid advice there is.

Let me get this straight:

  • You’re going to a grand location.
  • You may never go there again.
  • You want to make great images.
  • You’ve invested a good deal of money for the trip.
  • You’re spending valuable time on the trip.

So you should use equipment that you wouldn’t use at home to photograph your dog?

Yes, I’d rather travel light, it is much easier. I’d rather take no luggage and have everything given to me when I arrive. But that doesn’t happen in my income range. I always have at least one more case of equipment than anyone else – I want to be ready for the shot.

Now if I were to go on vacation and sit on a beach and do nothing, then I don’t need my real camera gear. But that doesn’t happen for me. Even when I’m not on a exclusively photography trip, I get away at least of a couple of mornings for sunrise light so I can make some decent pictures.

I see people buy these light, flimsy tripods for trips and they would never use the skinny things at home. So why use them when you are someplace special? Oh yea, it is easier. I hosted a workshop in Tuscany last summer and a couple of times when we went into quaint medieval villages I didn’t bother taking my tripod. I shoot nearly everything on a tripod but I was feeling lazy. And it showed. When I got home and looked at my images I couldn’t figure out why some days I didn’t get much in the towns. Then it hit me that I wasn’t using the tripod and it changed the way I shot in the towns. I did snapshots instead of real photos because I was just walking around popping off tourist photos without thinking what I really wanted to say with my photos. I blame that on my laziness.

I’m not going to let “It is easier” be the determining factor on whether I get good images. I hope you don’t either.

09 Feb 2016

Vintage cameras from a friend feel right at home

cameraCollectionI don’t know how I got so lucky to have great family and friends.

My wife Robin and I had dinner tonight with our friends Brian Horton and Marilyn Dillon. Marilyn was Robin’s editor back in the day and helped get Robin going in the right direction as a writer. Marilyn continues to be a strong inspiration for both of us.

Brian was a longtime photographer and headed sports photography for the Associated Press. He set up AP’s coverage for major sporting events all over the world, whether it was Super Bowls, Olympics or World Series. You name it Brian had it covered.

I met Brian when both of us were working in Ohio. I was at a small newspaper in southern Ohio and he worked for the AP photo bureau in Columbus. Ronald Reagan was coming to my little town two days before being elected president in 1980. It was a huge deal in town so Brian came down to cover it and then to help us. Those were the days when most newspapers didn’t have color photos and Brian brought one of AP’s new color transmitters so we’d have a color photo on the front page the next day. A few years later I got a photo editor job in New Jersey and Marilyn had just started as the newspaper’s metro editor and Brian was working for the AP in New York City.

Brian and Marilyn have a beautiful home down on the Jersey shore and they’re in what they call a slow process of moving there from their longtime home in Fanwood. Combining two houses into one is never fun and one day when I was at their house I was admiring Brian’s collection of old cameras. Brian offhandedly said I could have them when he got them all packed up. I didn’t think he meant it and forgot about it.

When we went to dinner tonight, Brian said he had a surprise for me in the car. Of course I love surprises so I begged him to tell me what it was. Brian said it was the old cameras. I was elated and pretty shocked. Robin could tell by the look on my face that is was something special but she didn’t really understand the significance of what I was getting.

After dinner Brian pulled a cardboard box out of his car and handed it to me. I looked in his eyes and could tell he was more than a little emotional about passing on the cameras. I was honored that he entrusted them with me and I knew I had the perfect place to display the cameras in my office. So Robin and I ran over there right after dinner, I opened the box and gently pulled out all the cameras that Brian it carefully wrapped in newspaper.

My office is in a building built in 1892 and it has incredible woodwork. There’s an old fireplace at the end of the room with little wood shelves perfect for my new camera collection. I carefully put each camera on the shelves starting with old box and Brownie cameras, a twin lens reflex camera, some Kodak Junior cameras with bellows and finally a couple old 4X5 press cameras.

I’m thrilled to have the cameras part of my new office, they really add to the atmosphere. I will admire them, remember their history and think of Brian every day. It is the perfect home.

11 Nov 2015

Tech tip: Tripod buying guide – How to select the tripod that is right for you

Tripod buying guide – selecting the right tripod for you

Most out-of-focus pictures are due to camera movement, it isn’t because you focused in the wrong place or your subject moved. It is because your camera moved. It doesn’t take much, especially as your use longer telephoto lenses. That is why I shoot over 90% of my photos with my camera on a tripod. I’m a believer that you can’t have a tripod that is too good. A solid tripod is a must in my photography world, a flimsy tripod is a waste of money. I’ve heard people say that any tripod is better than none and I couldn’t disagree more. A flimsy tripod gives you a false sense that you are getting sharp pictures but then you get back to your computer and you see your photos are a little fuzzy. If you’re not using a tripod, hopefully you know the camera could be shaky and you do some things to keep the camera as steady as you can, use image stabilization with your lens and then not be surprised later.

So make sure you have a solid tripod, but first there are some things you need to consider before making a considerable investment.

  • Is the tripod strong enough for your camera and lens?
  • How tall are you?
  • How small does the tripod get?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • Do you shoot much at ground level?
  • Do you want twist or flip leg locks?

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