Saturday, July 28, 2012

What have I been up to lately?

I will be making more frequent posts on my blog, where possible at least 1 post per week. To this end I thought I'd put together a post to cover things I've been doing since my last post.

I view photography as a continuous learning process. This has been made pretty clear to me when I was backing up my photos to an external storage drive. Looking at some of the photos that I took previously, even ones that were barely a month old, I was seeing things I could have done differently and what I am doing differently now. 

I've seen the biggest change in my photos since I switched from using my right eye to using my left eye when looking through the viewfinder. If you're wondering why I did that, it's due to a couple of things:
  1. Reading Joe McNally's book The Hot Shoe Diaries and seeing him demonstrate his camera holding/shooting technique
  2. Seeing an article online about identifying your dominant eye. As it turned out, I'm left eye dominant
So, putting these together, and the small matter of having a MB-D100 grip for my Nikon D100, I decided to swap "eyes". Oddly enough, it does seem to have made a difference to my work!

On the subject of books, I have been making good using of my Nook tablet to read photo reference books.  Mainly been looking at learning more on the use of flash, the Nikon CLS system and now on portrait lighting and posing. As you can gather from my reading choices, I am going to be working on improving my portrait techniques. I haven't done too much yet but I have been using fill-flash on my usual subjects (read victims!), my cats. I've also been practicing with use of colour correction gels to modify the light from my flash to balance with the ambient light in the room or to colour the light in the room.

I've also just recently completed my New York Institute of Photography Complete Course in Professional Photography studies, with good reviews and feedback from my instructors.  

Another big change I'm implementing is that I am now cropping my photos, and prints, to 8x10 instead of stubbornly leaving them un-cropped.  The main reason for this is that it is the standard photo size and also allows the use of pre-cut photo mats. With this being such a crowded field, why make things difficult for myself and anyone who buys one of my photos? 

Other changes I am looking at undertaking, once I can figure out the finances, is to replace my aging Nikon D100 camera body. Not only is it fairly old, it also has a habit from time to time of taking "blank" photos. It also is not compatible with the Nikon CLS flash system which is a pain seeing that I am working more with flash. I have a few ideas on possible replacements but need to fully decide on which one and also figure out how to raise the funds to buy it. I am also looking to pick up my own MacBook Pro laptop. I have been borrowing one from my day job to test it out and to compare it to a Windows based laptop for photo work. Clearly, I've found the MacBook to be much better to work with.

At least the final changes are not going to be any major problem, well, other than needing to have my 20mm f2.8D lens worked on to re-attach the diaphragm spring. I am going to reduce the amount of time I spend with a zoom lens and switch to using the aforementioned 20mm lens and also my 60mm f2.8D Micro lens. The 20mm on the D100 is effectively a 30mm lens due to the DX formats 1.5x crop factor, this being a good wider angle lens for every day photos. The 60mm lens is effectively a 90mm lens and is my go to lens for portraits as well as shooting my wife's hand made jewelry. I know modern zooms are much better performers but I still find the primes to be sharper and I also like the wider apertures for more shallow depth of field.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bee and sunflower

I like bees (and honey) and know that they are an important part of the eco-system. That's why I love to see them in my garden. It's also partly why there are native plants and sunflowers planted so we have an insect friendly habitat.

When I arrived home today I saw a bee collecting nectar and pollen from our sunflowers. Of course I had to grab my camera and fire off a few photos.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More photos from Tulsa - updated

Finally got around to taking some time off from my day job and spent a few hours in and around Tulsa to see what caught my eye in the way of interesting things to photograph. If you find yourself driving along 21st Street the Golden Driller is hard to miss and I've been meaning to photograph him for some time. The sky had some broken cloud which added some texture and interest to my photos.

(sourced from Wikipedia)

  • The Golden Driller is a 76-foot-tall (23 m), 43,500-pound (19,700 kg) statue of an oil worker, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is the largest free-standing statue in the world, and the third tallest statue in the United States.
  • It was originally built in 1953 for the International Petroleum Exposition by the Mid-Continent Supply Company. It was erected in it's current location (in front of the Tulsa Expo Center) in 1966.
(here is the Golden Driller in relation to the Expo Center for scale)

(here is the Golden Driller more in isolation)