Steve Kidd Photography: Blog en-us (C) 2023 Steve Kidd Photography (Steve Kidd Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:58:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:58:00 GMT Steve Kidd Photography: Blog 120 120 Be Prepared! They say that, “Into every life, rain must fall,” and so it was on a recent trip I made with my friend to the Palouse. The 810 is in all respects a professional body and can take a beating. So I don’t have a second camera body as the cost of owning a second 810 body is more than I can consider to have a backup. For those rare occasions where I’m going on an extended, or once-in-a-lifetime kinds of trips, I’ve rented a spare body just in case. But I didn’t consider the Palouse, which is a five-hour trip from my house, to be one of those destinations.

The Palouse is a fabulous location to shoot pictures in. Rolling hills, old farm equipment and barns, dramatic skies and more. You can venture down nearly any dirt road and find something worthwhile to take pictures of, which is exactly what my friend and I did. We were working out of the back of my car, leaving our camera bags there, getting what we needed, and then once upon a subject, setting up and shooting. That evening, after arriving back at the hotel and unloading the car, I slung my camera bag over my shoulder, and an instant later, heard a very disconcerting sound. I had carelessly left the top of my camera bag unzipped, and that sound was the impact of my camera and “go to” lens hitting the pavement. The camera literally exiting the top of the bag at shoulder height.

Funny thing about electronics, they seldom seem to enjoy drops from heights. With a giant pit in my stomach, I picked the camera up and had a quick once-over. Nothing seemed extraordinarily out of the ordinary. The lens remained affixed to the body. The camera powered up. While it was dark outside, I pointed the camera at some lights and it seemed to pull focus and the shutter tripped. “Thank heavens for professional gear,” I exclaimed.

The next morning we left at “0 dark thirty,” for Steptoe Butte to catch the sunrise raking across that gorgeous landscape. I got my camera out, put on a filter holder, affixed it to the tripod and began to adjust my settings. To my bewilderment, I couldn’t adjust any settings for aperture, shutter speed, etc. It also wouldn’t pull focus automatically. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to do much of anything. I took my camera to the car and tried resetting it to factory settings, but nothing. I was crestfallen. Short story long, the lens mount in the body had taken a hit by the impact, and the lens no longer made contact with the camera body contacts. I did manage to stumble on this phenomenon later, and by tilting the camera body towards the top of the lens, be able to make pictures. After a taking trip to Nikon’s Service Department (who turned the repairs to camera and lens around in less than 10 days), and a general emptying of my wallet, my camera is back, and probably better than new. The lenses sure seem to fit the body more snuggly than before.

So, to finally get to the point of this post. When you’re out and about, ALWAYS make sure your bag is zipped, or your case closed when moving it. This wasn’t exactly the first time something like this happened to me, although the last time the bag was on the ground, and in moving it, a lens tumbled out. Not a big deal that time. But what if I’d been on the edge of Horseshoe Bend, and the thousand foot drop below and that had happened. Apparently I wasn’t very good about learning this lesson the first time and I clearly needed to learn it again. There won’t be a third time, I promise you.

Some other ways to be prepared. Make sure that you have a spare, fully charged battery, and some extra memory cards with you. You never know when you’ll see a once-in-a-lifetime shots, and you don’t want miss it because the battery in your camera died.

Keep some plastic bags in your pocket. Another thing electronics don’t seem to like is moisture. A hotel shower cap works perfectly as well. If you find yourself in a sudden downpour, you can stretch the shower cap over the camera and the little elastic band on it keeps it secure until you can get your gear stored. And don’t forget to keep a microfiber towel in your bag as well, to dry everything off.

And of course, if you can carry a spare body with you; do! Sometimes there is no “tomorrow” in photography. That moment will be gone forever if you’re not prepared to capture it!

(Steve Kidd Photography) Camera Equipment Nikon Photography Learning Photography Tips Sat, 09 Jul 2016 16:31:24 GMT
Now What Do I Do? Passing StormPassing Storm(c) 2012 Steve Kidd


I've had a nagging injury to my shoulder for some time. Slinging around 20 pounds of camera gear certainly hasn't helped it any. So it finally became necessary to have surgery on it. The recovery time is significant, and I've been in and out of a sling for about 4 weeks now. While I wasn't panicked about the surgery itself, I did get a bit nervous about the recovery time, and that I wouldn't be able to go take photographs anytime soon. Now what do I do?

Well as it turns out, there's plenty of ways to keep your photography bug going, even when you can't go out and shoot for some reason!

There's always new techniques that can be learned by reading blogs (this one comes to mind), books, magazines and such. Just looking through books of photographs by artists you admire can provide you with inspiration for when you are able to get back out there. I personally read a ton of blogs and books on photography, though the purpose of my reading has changed over time. I think like most amateurs, I was trying to find that magic recipe to make my photos better. Boy, if I could write that book, I'd be rich! While I still look for ways to improve my photography and my processing, I now know there's no magic to it. You just have to take a lot of pictures to get better!

Speaking of processing, I'll bet like me you've got a lot of photos that haven't been processed; or that you passed over on your initial cull. Well I do like to go back through my images to look for "buried treasure," and now and again I'll find some. I also like to take a new look at previous processed photos, and make a new pass at it. Lightroom just keeps on getting better, and sometimes new processing tools and techniques I've learned along the way, can make a decent photograph better. You can always make a Virtual Copy of the original photo in Lightroom and play until your heart's content, and still have the previous photo to fall back on.

And of course, you can always plan and research your next photography outing; be that across town, or across the country. Many times, I'll stubble upon an image on the internet, and research where the location is. Once you find the name of a particular spot, you can look it up on Google Maps for example, and use an aerial view to refine the location. Sometimes even street view will let you see exactly where a shot might have originated from. I'm not one for copying someone else's work (though I'm sure I have), but use it to gain your own ideas about it. You can also research when the best time to visit is, as well as time of day to photograph given the angle of the sun and such.

So if you've been sidelined a bit, or the weather just doesn't allow, don't despair! You can still keep your hand in the game.

Until next time!

(Steve Kidd Photography) Photography Learning Photography Tips Sat, 14 May 2016 20:40:16 GMT
What's In My Camera Bag? There are lots of posts you’ll see regarding the contents of the professional’s camera bag. Most will start by listing their camera bodies and lenses, tripods and ball-heads, and the bag that carries it all; and I’ll share that too. But what I thought I’d share first are the little things that I’ve found that are immensely helpful, but don’t attach to a camera or tripod.

One of my absolute favorite pieces of gear, is my Hoodman Loupe. This is similar to the old school loupes we used to use on the slide sorter table. With this loupe however, you hold it up to the screen on the back or your camera, to help you compose, then review your images. Watch anyone on a sunny day try to shade the display on their DSLR, and you’ll know what I mean. In addition, I use it to compose in the following way. First, I’ll rough in the image using the viewfinder on the camera. But I’ve found it’s not always easy to see things that might be distracting in the image, until after I’ve tripped the shutter. So, after I’ve roughed it in, I’ll use the loupe in Live View, and really run my eye around the composition to look for elements that don’t belong, mergers, etc. Now with my composition locked in, I can shoot away.

Okay, technically, this does attach to the camera AND the tripod, but, here’s another indispensable, time-saving item. It’s called an L-Bracket, and it affixes to the bottom of your camera, just like the mounting plate for your tripod. The beauty of this item though, is the ability to switch your camera from a landscape orientation, to portrait, by simply releasing your mounting plate, turning the camera on its end, and closing the mounting plate again. This means not having to flop your ball-head over to the side and having to realign to get level, then do the process all over again if you want to switch back. These can be a little eon the expensive side, but you’ll only have to use this once to see its value. I rely on Really Right Stuff for mine.

Another inexpensive, yet really handy thing, is a chamois. They’re super absorbent. So if you get caught in a shower, or are photographing near a waterfall, or the ocean, you can quickly dry off your gear with one. Along the lines of cleaning, I use Lens Cleanse, natural lens cleaning kits. They come with a wet towel and a dry one, and are perfect for cleaning dirty lens elements. A microfiber cleaning cloth is also handy. I also keep a Giottos rocket bulb-blower in my bag to blow dust off lens and camera sensor. I know there’s a lot of sensor cleaning systems out there, but I don’t clean my camera’s sensor myself. That’s a very fine optical instrument inside that camera; and a job best left to the pros in my opinion.

Lastly, I keep a “Contact Sheet” made by Mindshift Gear. This is a lightweight tarp, for the lack of a better term, that can be thrown down on a sandy beach, or dusty forest floor, to set your bag down on so that sand or dirt aren’t transferred to your bag. You can also lay on it you’re doing shots that require you to “get low” with your subject.


Here’s the all of my camera, lens and mounting gear, which varies as to what I’ll take, based on the shoot.

·        Nikon D810 Camera body

·        Nikon MB-D12 Battery Pack for the D810, w/Really Right Stuff “L” Bracket

·        Nikon 14-24mm, f/2.8 lens

·        Nikon 27-70mm, f/2.8 lens

·        Nikon 70-200mm, f/2.8 lens

·        Nikon 200-500mm, F/5.6 lens

·        Nikon 50mm, f/1.4

·        Nikon 85mm, f/1.8

·        Nikon 105mm, f/2.8 Macro lens

·        Nikon TC-14E Teleconverter

·        Nikon TC-17E Teleconverter       

·        Nikon SB-700 Speedlight

·        Nikon SB-910 Speedlight

·        Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Tripod

·        Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball-head

·        Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Backpack

·        Mindshift Gear Firstlight 40L Backpack

         Filters including 105 CPL, Graduated ND’s & Little and Big Stoppers, plus Lee Filter holders

       Hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading!

(Steve Kidd Photography) Camera Equipment Mindshift Gear Nikon Photography Tips Really Right Stuff Think Tank Photo Sun, 10 Apr 2016 18:16:55 GMT
New Blog - And Local Seattle Knowledge Seattle SunriseSeattle Sunrise

I’ll admit it… finding the time to write a blog in today’s ever fast-paced, busy world isn’t easy; but I also love teaching and sharing my passion for photography, so I’ll strive to make time! So, welcome to what I hope becomes my weekly blog.

This first installment is about travelling to take photographs. It is not about going to some remote destination and finding shots (that post will come later), but rather travelling across your own city to make photographs.

I live in Seattle. It’s a rich, vibrant, culturally diverse city; and a tourist destination. It is easy to be dismissive of the so-called “tourist traps,” or iconic spots. But knowing when to photograph them, to get clean photographs is the key. So today I’ll share a little local knowledge with you regarding one such location; Kerry Park.

Kerry Park sits about half way up Queen Anne hill, and has an amazing view of the Seattle Center, the waterfront and Seattle Wheel, and Mt. Rainier. To get there, you’ll need to make your way to Queen Anne Avenue and head either up, or down the hill, depending on your route of travel. Then, turn left on Highland Drive if going up the hill, right, if going down. About two long blocks later, you’ll see the park on your right. Queen Anne hill has very stately homes around there area, but you can still find ample free parking if you get there early.

Which then begs the question; “What time would that be?” Both sunrise and sunsets can both produce rewarding images. Personally, I love the early morning there, about an hour prior to sunrise, to get the “blue light;” that period of time when the sky turns a rich, cobalt blue, before sun up. The lights of the Space Needle, and the buildings are fully illuminated, which, against the blue backdrop of the sky, makes for a very pleasing image. And while on the subject time, there’s a seasonal decision to be made as well. A photographic axiom is: bad weather makes for good photographs. I’ve gotten really dramatic images following a storm, so keep your eyes on a weather app, and look for days following a big projected storm, and then head to the park. As the light shifts in the early morning from the cobalt blue to sunrise, the sun will bounce off the clearing storm clouds and “light up.” Fall and spring are best for this type of shot. Keep your eyes on any northbound jets departing SeaTac, as these will produce long white lines in a long exposure. Easy enough to remove in Photoshop or Lightroom, but also easy enough to time your shots between the jets too.

Of course sunsets can be very pleasing as well. Again, weather can be a factor you can put to good use. Mt. Rainier will often have lenticular (lens shaped) clouds that will appear over the top of it. This usually indicates that rain will occur within twenty four to forty eight hours. However, these clouds will also light up as the sunsets, and Mt. Rainier will take on the color as well. As the sun sets, you’ll also get a nice balance between the artificial lights of the city, and the natural light.

Using a polarizing filter on your camera works well here, as you’re essentially 90 degrees to the sun, at either sunrise, or sunset; where the filter’s sweet spot is. It’s a little harder to see the effect before the sun comes up, but if your camera has Live View, and you’re in that mode, you’ll see the image get darker as you rotate the filter. The darker is gets, the more the effect is being applied.

I hope if you’re a native Seattleite, or just visiting our town, you’ll make your way to Kerry Park for this iconic shot.

(Steve Kidd Photography) Kerry Park Photography Composition Photography Learning Photography Tips Seattle Seattle Center Sun, 27 Mar 2016 15:49:40 GMT
Taking Better Pictures - Part 2 Admittedly, I'm very tardy in posting to my blog. I'll attempt to do better, but hopefully this installment will bridge the gap.

In my last post, I discussed creative choices you can make in creating better photographs. In this post, we'll discuss using the technical side of the equation to do so. I can hear some of you tuning out already, but bear with me. It won't be as painful as you think!

Very often I’m sure you have looked at a photograph in a magazine or a book and noticed the incredible detail in it. Individual grains of sand perhaps, or the fine hairs of a kitten and thought, they must have some kind of camera to get a picture that sharp. Nope. Not the camera. It’s what is supporting the camera; a tripod! I can hear you again… “A tripod is bulky.” “I don’t want to carry that thing around.” “It slows me down.” EXACTLY. It slows you down. And when you slow down and really look, like we did in our exercise in the last post, we begin to improve our sight. It won’t improve your vision to 20/20, but it will improve your creative vision, which is more important. A tripod can hold your camera infinitely steadier than you can. And it allows you to frame the shot exactly as you want. In addition, with the new, space-age materials available, they weigh next to nothing. There are models out there small enough to fit in a woman’s handbag. There are also table-top versions and something called a Gorilla Pod, which has flexible legs that you can wrap around a fence or railing that hardly take up any room at all. Seriously; if you want to immediately see improved sharpness and clarity in your pictures, get that camera on a tripod.

Now that you have wisely mounted your camera on a tripod, we’ll discuss how to get sharper pictures yet, and that is with some kind of a release for the shutter, other than your finger. Most cameras have a place where you can attach a “cable release.” In the film camera days this was a metal cable that screwed into the top of the shutter release and then you pressed a plunger type devise which manually pushed the shutter down. Just pressing that button with your finger was enough to induce a bit of shake (read blur) into the picture. Well today there are a number of methods that may be able to be used with our camera.

The first is a remote cable that can be plugged into the camera. This is the most widely used method I’ll wager. Your camera’s manufacturer probably has one or more that will fit your model, as well as you’ll find lots of third party solutions out there. The next type of release is one that will fit on your camera’s hot-shoe mount. It then perhaps has a cable that goes into where the remote cable would go and comes with a separate remote control that’s used to trip the shutter, thereby removing any human movement that could be induced. Some of the newest cameras have an infrared sensor built in and then a remote can be purchased from the manufacturer so there’s no need for any sort of attachments at all. The Nikon 5100 features this and the remote is around $20. Nice.

So, our camera is on the tripod, we have a remote trigger, what else can we do to improve our photo? Improve our depth of field. What is the depth of field you ask? It has to do with the aperture of the lens and the amount of light reaching our sensor. Think of the aperture as the pupils of your eyes. Your eye dilates and contracts based on the available amount of light it receives. The less light available, the wider your pupil opens. Now your camera isn’t smart as your eyes, so you have to rely on its meter; unless you’re on Automatic mode, but we’re going to break of that habit too. The aperture size used on our lens, which helps us to control the light entering it, also correlates to depth of field. You’ve probably seen those funny “F” numbers and wondered what they meant. Those, my friends, are the size of the opening in our aperture.

Now this next part is a bit counter-intuitive, so again, bear with me. The smaller the F-number, the larger the opening, and the more light that reaches the sensor. Make sense? No? I know, it doesn’t make any sense at all, but here’s a little trick I stumbled on that helped a lot. Replace the “F” with a “1/” to the number. So instead of F/2 it’s 1/2. F/2 is a larger size hole than F/4. Using our quick method we would get 1/4. And 1/2 is bigger than 1/4 right? There you have it. Now F/2 doesn’t represent a ½ inch hole as the opening size, but for learning the difference in the F-Stops, this trick was helpful for me.

But what the hell does this have to do with the depth of field I spoke of earlier? Here we go. Ever been inside a dark movie theater and then stepped out into the bright sunshine? What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. You were nearly hit by a bus stepping off the curb because everything was a bit blurry because your eyes hadn’t yet had a chance to adjust and your depth of field was shot to hell. It’s the same with your camera. The depth of field is the amount of area in focus in a given field of view. We use the F-Stop to help make creative choices of how much of our scene is going to be in focus.

That pretty portrait of your niece where she’s in focus but the trees behind her a not? Shallow depth of field (small F-number). That landscape shot of the Grand Canyon where everything from the rocks right in front of you to the distant horizon and everything’s in focus? Deep depth of field (big F-number). So by increasing the F-number (smaller hole), we increase the depth of field. Every lens has an F-number whereby it’s at its sharpest as well, usually around F/8 or F/11. But many landscape photographers will sacrifice a little bit of sharpness to get the deeper depth of field at F/16 or even F/22. In photography, there always a trade-off. Which brings me to my final way to improve your photos; Exposure.

Again reverting back to the film days, you had to concern yourself with film speed. Were you shooting outside, indoors, in low light? There was a different film speed for all of them. And film speed was really how sensitive the film was to light and was referenced by the ISO speed. If you ever shot film and had say ISO 50 film loaded, but then wanted to go shoot outdoors on a bright day, you probably wasted a bunch of film. Well thankfully on today’s cameras, we can change that speed at will.

Whether you’re shooting film or digital, we still employ the exposure triangle. ISO, F-Stop and Shutter Speed. We’re adjusting the three of those things to give us a balanced exposure. Again, there are trade-offs. Let’s say you’re shooting a landscape, and there’s a bit of a wind blowing. In that case, you might need an F-Stop of F/11, a shutter speed of 1/500th to make sure we don’t see any moving branches, so the ISO ends up being ISO 400, to give us that balanced exposure.

Or to get that portrait of our niece, we might use an F-Stop of F/5.6 to make sure her face is in focus, but leaves the background soft; a shutter speed of 1/125th because she’s sitting still and the ISO is at 200.

Or we might be out shooting at night, so we raise the ISO up to 3200 to account for the lack light, we want the scene sharp so we use F/8 but the shutter speed is now 1/20th of a second to get a balanced exposure. You’ve got that tripod with you don’t you? Because there’s no way you’re going to get a sharp picture with a shutter speed of 1/20th shooting hand-held. The point is that there can be a number of combinations of ISO, F-Stop and Shutter speeds that will give a balanced exposure. And once you’ve got a balanced exposure, magic happens inside that camera.

Sure, you can leave it on Auto and the camera will make all of your exposure decisions for you, but read up a bit and just try out a Aperture Mode, where you select the F-Number based on your creative choice and your camera makes the decision about shutter and ISO. I guarantee you’ll be getting better pictures in no time.

Next time, we’ll talk about Histograms. I’m sure you’re giddy in anticipation.

Many happy clicks!

(Steve Kidd Photography) Exposure Remote Release Tripods Fri, 03 May 2013 01:43:38 GMT
Taking Better Pictures Improving the quality of your photographs is relatively easier done than said. I’m going to give you a few tips and pointers that will definitely improve your photographs in two ways; both from a composition and technical stand point.


First of all, what kinds of photographs have caught your eye before? Was it a blast of color? Was it taken from a unique perspective? Could it have been a really simple composition? The answer was that it was probably a combination of two or more of these things. Let’s start with color

Are world is filled with color and yet most of it, including myself, don’t always see it. You know that grass is green, the sky is blue and that stop sign ahead is red. But it doesn’t always register with us as we take in these things as we’re driving along thinking about the guy who cut us off, or just lost in a train of thought about endless sorts of things. But, when we slow down a bit and REALLY look, we are amazed at what we see.

As a little experiment, I urge you to try the following. I can be done the next time you’re out of a walk or even at home. PLEASE do not attempt this while driving as it involves closing your eyes for several seconds. What I’d like you to do is stand still and close your eyes. Listen to all the sounds around you. Take a deep breath and exhale. Keep your eyes closed for about 15 seconds and then open them for a few seconds, and take a mental snapshot of what you saw, and then close them again. What did you see?  Was it a big splash of color? Was it something really bright compared to other things in the scene? What you have just done is seeing without labeling. Again, we know the grass is green, so we don’t bother to really look at it. And that’s the point of the exercise; finding new ways to see the world. Continue this exercise turning 90 degrees each time. You’ll continue to find new things you probably looked at, but never saw before. That is called perceptive seeing and it’s the first step in improving your photographs.


Next, we’ll move from perception to perspective. If you want more interesting photographs, you have to change your perspective. What do I mean by that? It’s comprised of two elements really; viewpoint and distance. Your viewpoint is always what you see at eye level from where you’re currently located. Be it standing up, sitting down or even flat on your back. So what you want to do is look at a scene from a different viewpoint than what is “normal” and typically that’s standing up. The next time you are out with your camera or even your camera phone, and you happen upon a scene you want to photograph, try “working the scene”. That simply means walking around the subject, getting low, going high, move in close, move in closer and rotate the camera vertically. There are no rights or wrongs to this other than to say if it doesn’t seem right, it might make an interesting picture. The old photographers axiom of “if you think you’re close enough, get closer”, really applies here. Take a bunch of pictures because digital imaging doesn’t cost anything. See what you like and don’t like. One of the things that would seem to grab people’s attention in my own work is when I get really close with a wide angle lens. It’s a perspective we’re not used to seeing, so it intrigues us.


Another aspect of improving your composition is in what to put in and what to leave out. Believe me, it’s way harder than it sounds. All of us tend to want to include more in the picture than we should or is necessary, especially when taking in a grand view. If you are visiting the Grand Canyon and look out over the vastness of it, you will naturally want to include all of it in your picture so when you share it with your friends, they’ll experience that scene with you. Only they can’t. The scene most likely will look flat and compressed with none of the grandeur you experienced by visiting there.

It never hurts to try to capture a big scene, but they come out best when you include three things: a strong foreground, middle ground and background. Again, a wider angle lens helps your composition here, but try getting close to a nearby object, a big rock perhaps, that leaves some room between there and the edge of the canyon in our case, with the vastness of the canyon beyond. Viola! Strong foreground, middle ground and background.

Another secret when shooting any wide view is to NOT put the horizon in the center of the picture. This brings us to, “The Rule of Thirds.” The rule of thirds has been around since the Egyptians built the pyramids and it basically works like this. Imagine drawing two lines horizontally across your picture dividing it into equal thirds. Then draw two more lines vertically in equal thirds, sort of like a tic-tac-toe board. The rule basically states that objects placed at the intersections of two lines are visually more appealing than that elsewhere in the frame, especially in the center. So in our landscape example, placing the horizon on the upper line horizontally does make it visually more interesting. By and large this works MOST of the time. Here’s my general rule about landscapes and where to place the horizon: if the sky is sort of blah, place the horizon on the top vertical line. If the sky is more interesting than the landscape, put the horizon on the lower vertical line. These rules also works well with flowers, buildings and even people, but take note; if you’ve placed a person on the left side vertical, make sure they are facing a little towards the right side vertical and not the other way around or it will appear as though they’re “looking outside the frame.”

But what often makes the more compelling picture is in the details. Find a small detail and focus in on that. It really gets back to the start of this blog. Slowing down, REALLY looking at the world, and pointing out a new way of looking at something to the viewer.

In part two of taking better pictures, we will focus on technical ways of getting the shot. Spoiler alert! Tri-pods!

Yours in shutter tripping…


(Steve Kidd Photography) Improving Your Photography Photography Composition Photography Learning Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:29:00 GMT
What Camera Should You Buy? Being a photography enthusiast, I'm frequently asked, "What camera should I buy?" My first question invariably is, "What type of pictures do you want?" That question can really throw people, but that's not my intent. Rather, I'm trying to determine a multitude of things from your answer.

For example, if you tell me you want to take pictures of your friends while you're out for the night and post them to your social network sites, I might ask to see your phone. Nearly any phone you could buy today is going to be able to deliver a six to eight megapixel image. Nearly four times that of my first digital camera! More than enough pixels to get a good image that you could enlarge to an 8x10 photo if you liked the picture enough. In fact, there's a Seattle photographer, Chase Jarvis, that has made a name for himself by blogging an iPhone photo every day. Subsequently it was turned into a book.

Or you might tell me that you're going on a vacation to a faraway land and want to have some nice images that you want to share with friends. I'm apt to point you to one of the "mirrorless" cameras available that have interchangeable lenses. They're perfectly reasonable in price, small and compact enough to easily fit into any purse or day pack, and can produce images in the 16 megapixel range. That's the same pixel count as the Nikon D4 which costs $6000 without a lens. Yours for a mere 10% of that, lens included, thank you very much.

So you're not sure about the whole interchangeable lens thing. Maybe that's too much camera for you. I'll direct you towards one of the newer "point and shoots." Even these cameras are 16mp, and feature an optical zoom lens, usually in the 24-140mm range, with digital zoom capabilities after that. What is the difference between an optical zoom and digital zoom you ask? Optical zooms, are comprised of glass elements that move inside the lens housing to zoom in and focus. A digital zoom merely takes a portion of the image and then converts that image into a "full frame." Sort of like taking picture and then cropping it digitally in the photo editing software of your choice. In fact, there would be no difference in picture quality if you took a picture at the end of your zoom lens, imported into your software and then cropped. I'll make the argument why this is a better solution anyway some other time.

Anyway, the new point and shoots offer many features including scene modes. Perhaps you want to take a portrait of someone in front of a brightly lit casino for example; there's a scene mode for that. Underwater capabilities, for sailing or snorkeling (down to around 30' depths). Full HDMI video modes, effects modes, continuous shooting modes, and even GPS and mapping features for geo-tagging. Sure, a lot of those things already exist on your camera phone you say, but the secret is the optical lens and twice the megapixels, which leads to more composition and editing options, which your camera phone simply cannot do .

But you really think it's time to step up into a "real camera." Now I'll ask how much do you want to spend? We have some options. The Nikon 3200 has 24mp, an 18-55mm lens with vibration reduction and full 1080p video at around $750. Or we can go to the medium format Hasselblad H4D-200ms with a whopping 50mp capability for a mere $35,995. Of course we'll have to get a lens or two as well. That price is only for the camera body.

The good news is there is a camera for nearly every budget when we start to talk about DSLR's (Digital Single Lens Reflex). If you're ready to move into a "big boy or big girl" camera, the photographic possibilities are nearly limitless. If this is your first camera of this type, I will steer you towards an entry level or intermediate level camera like a Canon Rebel or Nikon 5100. Which brings us to the next inevitable question; "Which one's better? Canon or Nikon?" I don't know. Which is better? Mac or PC? Chevy or Ford? Corn Flakes or Post Toasties? There's a reason all of these brands have been around a long time. They are all quality products. Why did I choose Nikon? Simply because when I wanted to make the conversion from shooting film, to shooting digital, that particular camera seemed like a good deal.

Regardless of which system you choose, remember this; the two systems are not compatible with each other. Canon lenses fit on Canon bodies and the same goes for Nikon. There's also plenty of third party lens manufacturers out there, but their "Nikon lenses" go with Nikon bodies and Canon goes with Canon. Can't we Canon and Nikon users all just get along?

As you've guessed by now, there is a lot of decisions to be made on what camera you should buy. I'll of course help you with your question as soon as you tell me your answer to, "What type of pictures do you want?"

In my next blog, we'll discuss how to take better photographs regardless of the kind of camera you have!

Keep shooting!

(Steve Kidd Photography) Camera Purchase Camera Systems Sat, 01 Sep 2012 18:08:44 GMT
Attending a Photography Workshop

For the average person trying to improve their photography, a workshop can be a great way to learn. At the same time, all workshops are not created equal. I'll attempt to share my practical experience in attending them to help you choose the right one for you.

First and foremost, it's important to distinguish whether you’re going to be attending a photography workshop, or a photography tour. They both have the word photography in them, but the similarity ends shortly after that. A photography workshop would be comprised of students and instructors. A good ratio would be one instructor for every five to six students. The instructors would be able to provide you advice on composition, lensing, using filters and polarizers, aperture, shutter and ISO settings, etc. Bear in mind, they may not be familiar with your particular camera. As boring as it may be to sit down and read the camera manual, it pays huge dividends when on a workshop to know how to control the various features your camera may have. One important note; the smaller the class size, the less you'll be jockeying for the same location once you arrive at your shooting location

A photography tour on the other hand is really just that. You bring your camera and they take you to locations to shoot. For someone who is pretty proficient with their camera, but unfamiliar with an area perhaps they're travelling to, that might be just fine. But there's little chance you'll be able to get any instruction on improving your photography.

While on the subject of instruction, how does one go about finding a reputable workshop? If you do a web search for photography workshops, all sorts of search results will come back, but how will you know what to look for after that? I strongly suggest searching in a different manner, by perhaps looking on a photography magazine website and then look for available workshops within them. Find a workshop that looks interesting to you, but then give them a call. Find out what the teacher/student ratio is. How long have they been conducting workshops? Are they patient with all types of experience levels? And what costs are included in the fee? There are many fine photographers out there that lead workshops, but may not be the best teachers. And of course, if you know people who've attended workshops before, find out which one they got the best instruction or enjoyed the most.

Another thing about workshops is the cost. They can cost anywhere from a nice lunch out to a second mortgage and I've found there's not necessarily a correlation between cost and quality. I once had a "workshop" with a photographer in Hawaii who drove me around to great locations, gave great advice and was as pleasant as could be. I was his only client that day and it only cost me $175. Nice.

If you decide to splurge on a workshop, make sure you let the workshop instructors know what you want to get out of it. Say you want to get better at composition, or better travel pictures or whatever it is that you want to get better at, but let them know. Then they can focus their time with you on accomplishing your goals.

The workshop will probably also provide a list of "suggested equipment." You may only have a DSLR with the kit lens, and that might be fine. But there are also resources like where you can rent equipment to fill out your camera bag for that trip. Find out from the workshop what's "most valuable" to have on the particular workshop.

My final words about workshops are to remember to have fun. If you're on a trip to a national park, don't forget to take your eye out of the viewfinder now and again and just enjoy the scenic grandeur. It's easy to get frustrated by having spent the money to attend the workshop and then feeling like you have to "get the shot." Just take the scene in, take a deep breath and return to the basics. Great photos will follow.

Happy Shooting!


(Steve Kidd Photography) attending photography workshops photography workshops workshop goals Wed, 22 Aug 2012 16:30:28 GMT