Category: Technical

Photographers that give back

March 11th, 2009 — 11:19am

I am a strong believer in sharing knowledge with colleages.  Some photographers may have good reasons to be very protective of the techniques and approaches they use, but I really appreciate it when good photographers share freely.  And I like to do the same, to the extent I can.

Two photographers that share what they know and have something valuable to teach are David Tejada from Denver and Zach Arias from Atlanta. 

David Tejada is a corporate photographer that uses small flashes to create some really amazing images.  I have learned quite a bit from him, including equipment to carry on location, and how to use small flashes for great results.   Check out his videos on YouTube.

Zach Arias is funny, smart and a great teacher.   I’ve learned from him how to shoot against a white background with minum postprocessing.  Zach had developed a pretty good DVD with his teachings, and he also have tutorials and videos on his website.

Thank you guys for sharing what you know and enbling other photographers!

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Equipment when I travel for fun

March 11th, 2009 — 10:45am

Next week, on March 17th, my family and I are flying to Rome, Italy for Spring break. We’re all excited about this - Stella and the kids have never been there, and I was there only once when I was 20 or so, traveling solo. I loved Rome and want to see it again.

So the question is, what equipment should I take with me on the trip, given that this is a family vacation and not a photography project? So I need to ask myself two questions: (1) what do I plan to photograph? and (2) what are my equipment requirements for that type of photography?

I plan to photograph life in Rome. I am not too interested in typical postcard images with the Colloseum at dusk, but I want to capture the essence of living in Rome - the people, the streets, the experience. I want to be able to show someone what it feels like to be there, not just what the place looks like. This is not easy when I am not traveling alone and focused on my photography.

So what equipment requirements does this type of photography places on me, in addition to the constraints of traveling with two small children? Here is my list:

  • I need to travel light, with as little weight as possible
  • I want to be non-instrusive, so big cameras and lenses are not the ticket
  • I want to be able to use available light to really capture the feel of being there.  This means no flash and fast lenses.
  • I want to avoid being mugged and my camera stolen
  • I want outstanding images

So here is my plan:

  • The camera will be a single body, the D700.  I am not planning to take a backup body, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.   The body will have no MB-20, I will just carry extra batteries.
  • I plan to take three prime lenses, two small and a larger one:  Nikkor 20mm f/2.8,  50mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.4. 
  • I will take a Sekonic L358 flash meter
  • All this equipment will go into two cases:  a tiny Domke F5XB  black bag, with the Domke label removed, and a Thinktank Lens Changer 25 for my 85mm.  The Domke is really tiny and enough for the body with the 20mm lens on it and the 50mm inside.   Here are pics of the two bags.


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Comments on the Nikon D700

February 4th, 2009 — 8:18pm

A few months ago I bought a Nikon D700, and now I use it almost exclusively for my work.  While the D300 continues to be a fantastic camera, the image quality, especially the high ISO capabilities of the D700 are fantastic.  And then there is the full frame, which gives me the depth of field I really want when doing portraiture.  The shallow depth of field  provided by high quality portraiture lenses like the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens at wide apertures is just perfect for those natural light portraits.   I have attached below two examples of what the D700 can do.  The first image was done with f/2 and the 85mm lens.   The second is a shot at ISO 6400 in a dark church in Chichicatenango, Guatemala.   The image was able to capture the magic and ancestral mood and atmosphere of the place.  I just love this camera with Nikkor lenses!

Portrait with D700, 85mm at f/2

Portrait with D700, 85mm at f/2

Women in St. Thomas Church, Chichicastenango

Women in St. Thomas Church, Chichicastenango

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Website updated

December 1st, 2008 — 10:00am

I started using Lightroom 2 a couple of months ago and decided to use it to regenerate the galleries for my website.  The images at my site have been stale for a while and I needed to upload new ones.  Also, I wanted to add some architectural images, because I don’t plan on renewing my Livebooks website.  While I like Livebooks, I cannot justify the cost, and I like to have full access to my hosted website.   So I used Lightroom Web galleries and was able to get new images up in no time.  I really need to create side-by-side composities of my vertical images to create a more visually appealing format, and I will be doing that shortly.

I also rehosted this log from to my own website.  It was really easy and quick - while I still don’t have exactly the same look and feel as my website, I have picked a very simple theme that I can modify later.  It’s hard to believe how simple it was to move my blog to my own website, including all the postings I had.  Very nice!

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My studio

May 3rd, 2007 — 10:58pm

In case you’re wondering where I create my studio images, here is a picture of my garage converted temporarily into a studio. You can see seamless gray paper as well as a couple of lights. I normally use no more than three lights at the same time. The big white board on the left is a 4×8 foam core board that I use as a reflector. It takes me a while to set-up and tear-down, but I have enough space in the garage to do what I like to do. The only problem is that it’s not air-conditioned, so I am still wondering how I am going to work during the summer. Perhaps I will shoot on location more!

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