Archive for January, 2010

52 blessings 04.2010


What a blessing it is to find a place on the earth you’ve never stood on before. That’s where I found myself… for the first time in my life, standing on the cliffs at Point Loma. How amazing is our Creator? My camera just couldn’t capture the beauty that was all around me. I’m sure I will find myself in many new places this year, but here, at the oceans edge, will be one of my favorites. My family loves to visit the coast. I’m sure there will be another shot in this 52 series of the pacific ocean, but this is my first one of the year and I only wish I had more opportunities to have stood on this rocky edge looking out at the Pacific Ocean. I’ve never stood on the beach of the Atlantic. Someday… someday.

For now I will embrace the wonder of the Masters work in a place I’ve never stood before.

peace.
johno~

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And the WINNER is…

Jennifer Davis

Option #3: Trying to be like Jesus to my wife, my kids, the youth I serve in ministry, and to an impoverished world. Using photography to help others see more clearly the majesty of creation and the glory of God among us.

Many thanks to all those who gave this a shot. It was lot’s of fun to see comments made. Thank you again.

I did want to give a honorable mention to Dan Shaefer. I loved his last line:

God has blessed me with eyes that see. And through the magic of coffee, the internet, and digital photography I have found a way to share the world I see with those I love most.’

Jennifer, if you could email me your address, I’ll ship your basket to you.

Stay tuned for the next give-a-way. I’m feeling generous.

peace.
johno~

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52 blessings 03.2010

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with World Vision to an Area Development Project in Tijuana, Mexico the last week. It was stormy… the rain was intense and falling… sideways. It was incredible to see roads washing away moments after we crossed them. Upon arriving to the ADP, we met families. Families who have been blessed by sponsors of World Vision who in spite of the world literally falling apart around them, the met us to show us their community and serve us a wonderful ethnic meal.

Unfortunately the rain and the roads kept many away from the center to share with us what was going on. The children who were there, enjoyed playing with us. Looking at themselves on the backs of digital cameras and laughing. What a joy it was to share with these few sponsored children.

However, it’s a conversation between a World Vision Child Ambassador and a mother of this little girl that I wanted to share about. The mother said, “Thank you for helping me take care of my daughter.” You see, a mother of a sponsored child, needs help. When was the last time you asked someone to help you take care of your kids? Have you ever asked someone, “Hey, could you watch my daughter for the weekend?” How about, “Can my son ride to camp with you?” Because you ask for help, does that make you any less of a loving parent? NO! Sponsors of children are helping parents in difficult times take care of their children, just like you and I do.

So this week, I’m thankful to all those who have sponsored a child… like this little girl.

peace.
johno~

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“About Me…”Contest!

OK, I’ve got another contest. This one will run for two weeks and I’m hoping for some fun input from a bunch of you.One of the goals I have for 2010 is to work on my blog more than I did in 2009. (so far, so good) I want it to be a site that’s fun, informative, has to do with family, missions, photography and above all, Christ. As I dream about reshaping my blog, one of my most difficult sections is the “About Me” section.

Johnathan is a full time husband, father, youth minister and likes photography on the side.Photography is his way of slowing down and taking in all of God’s wonderful creation. As St. Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”To “clearly” see is what Johno tries to do in life and with photography. Every man, woman and child… every mountain, stream and flower are gifts that clearly show the fingerprints of God.As a ministry servant, Johnathan has partnered with global community efforts, such as World Vision, to bring awareness, education and sponsorship to end extreme poverty.

Can you see my problem? You might have never even read it until now… It’s looooooonnnnnnggg! AND, I can tell that I wrote it. I don’t like talking about me in third person. It reminds me of something out of, “The 3 faces of Eve.”. So, I was hoping for a little, actually a lot, of help from those who know me and perhaps those who don’t know me except for what they see on my blog. This is a big step of faith and I will moderate most comments before I approve them to keep it fun. (although some of you are on the “white list” and can post whatever you want without my moderation… so be nice)...::THE CONTEST::..If you could write an “About Me” statement for Johnathan (Johno) Thomas’ blog, what would it be?Try to be creative and fun… please no swear words… Keep it simple and to the point.Post your Johnathan Thomas blog “About Me” statements in the comment field and I will pick my favorite one to post on my blog. The winner will receive a hand crafted African basket from Uganda.

How fun is that? This is a fair trade basket that I purchased in Fort Portal, Uganda. The name of the woman, Editta Karambi, who crafted the basket is on a piece of tape at the bottom of the basket.I put my “About Me” in your hands. Many, perhaps 8, will enter but only one will win. I will send out another reminder later. Tell your friends, share with your boss. I can’t imagine what a complete stranger would say in my “About Me” section.Peace.johno~

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"About Me…" Contest!

OK, I’ve got another contest. This one will run for two weeks and I’m hoping for some fun input from a bunch of you.

One of the goals I have for 2010 is to work on my blog more than I did in 2009. (so far, so good) I want it to be a site that’s fun, informative, has to do with family, missions, photography and above all, Christ. As I dream about reshaping my blog, one of my most difficult sections is the “About Me” section.

Johnathan is a full time husband, father, youth minister and likes photography on the side.

Photography is his way of slowing down and taking in all of God’s wonderful creation. As St. Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

To “clearly” see is what Johno tries to do in life and with photography. Every man, woman and child… every mountain, stream and flower are gifts that clearly show the fingerprints of God.

As a ministry servant, Johnathan has partnered with global community efforts, such as World Vision, to bring awareness, education and sponsorship to end extreme poverty.

Can you see my problem? You might have never even read it until now… It’s looooooonnnnnnggg! AND, I can tell that I wrote it. I don’t like talking about me in third person. It reminds me of something out of, “The 3 faces of Eve.”. So, I was hoping for a little, actually a lot, of help from those who know me and perhaps those who don’t know me except for what they see on my blog. This is a big step of faith and I will moderate most comments before I approve them to keep it fun. (although some of you are on the “white list” and can post whatever you want without my moderation… so be nice).

..::THE CONTEST::..
If you could write an “About Me” statement for Johnathan (Johno) Thomas’ blog, what would it be?

Try to be creative and fun… please no swear words… Keep it simple and to the point.

Post your Johnathan Thomas blog “About Me” statements in the comment field and I will pick my favorite one to post on my blog. The winner will receive a hand crafted African basket from Uganda.


How fun is that? This is a fair trade basket that I purchased in Fort Portal, Uganda. The name of the woman, Editta Karambi, who crafted the basket is on a piece of tape at the bottom of the basket.

I put my “About Me” in your hands. Many, perhaps 8, will enter but only one will win. I will send out another reminder later. Tell your friends, share with your boss. I can’t imagine what a complete stranger would say in my “About Me” section.

Peace.
johno~

Share

“About Me…” Contest!

OK, I’ve got another contest. This one will run for two weeks and I’m hoping for some fun input from a bunch of you.

One of the goals I have for 2010 is to work on my blog more than I did in 2009. (so far, so good) I want it to be a site that’s fun, informative, has to do with family, missions, photography and above all, Christ. As I dream about reshaping my blog, one of my most difficult sections is the “About Me” section.

Johnathan is a full time husband, father, youth minister and likes photography on the side.

Photography is his way of slowing down and taking in all of God’s wonderful creation. As St. Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

To “clearly” see is what Johno tries to do in life and with photography. Every man, woman and child… every mountain, stream and flower are gifts that clearly show the fingerprints of God.

As a ministry servant, Johnathan has partnered with global community efforts, such as World Vision, to bring awareness, education and sponsorship to end extreme poverty.

Can you see my problem? You might have never even read it until now… It’s looooooonnnnnnggg! AND, I can tell that I wrote it. I don’t like talking about me in third person. It reminds me of something out of, “The 3 faces of Eve.”. So, I was hoping for a little, actually a lot, of help from those who know me and perhaps those who don’t know me except for what they see on my blog. This is a big step of faith and I will moderate most comments before I approve them to keep it fun. (although some of you are on the “white list” and can post whatever you want without my moderation… so be nice).

..::THE CONTEST::..
If you could write an “About Me” statement for Johnathan (Johno) Thomas’ blog, what would it be?

Try to be creative and fun… please no swear words… Keep it simple and to the point.

Post your Johnathan Thomas blog “About Me” statements in the comment field and I will pick my favorite one to post on my blog. The winner will receive a hand crafted African basket from Uganda.


How fun is that? This is a fair trade basket that I purchased in Fort Portal, Uganda. The name of the woman, Editta Karambi, who crafted the basket is on a piece of tape at the bottom of the basket.

I put my “About Me” in your hands. Many, perhaps 8, will enter but only one will win. I will send out another reminder later. Tell your friends, share with your boss. I can’t imagine what a complete stranger would say in my “About Me” section.

Peace.
johno~

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52 blessings 02.2010

Chalk this up to my first real product shot… I have to say, “I’m blessed.”

I’m not sure I could go into all the details of this photo. Yes, I know it’s a bunch of Canon cameras, but it’s more.

Last year my family and I were returning home form the Oregon coast after speaking at a youth retreat followed up by a few days of personal family time. In route, and on our last leg home, we thought it would be a good idea to stop at a restaurant we don’t often get to. The parking lot was full and for a moment I thought we should just skip it, however the overflow lot across the street had a few empty spots. Sandwiched between three busy food joints, I chose to park our van under a light. It wasn’t dark and it most likely wouldn’t be by the time we finished but, you know what they always say.

We ate, we laughed, we used the bathroom and left. Upon returning to our van after a nice meal, I noticed something black all over the ground and what looked to be a white sock. Funny, there’s a sock on the ground. We approached the car and I noticed that the black on the ground was little pieces of glass… it was glass from our rear window. I thought, “Someone hit our car.” It was Dawnette who said, “They stole our stuff!”

Just replaying that moment in my mind as I write this, makes my stomach knot up. It’s a sick feeling, a stomach punch when you’re not expecting it. A moment when the whole world slows WAY down. “They took my camera bag! They took my laptop. They took my guitar!” In all they stole two laptop bags, with the two macbook pros, my camera gear, and my guitar. An estimated $11,000+ in all “replacement cost.” Not even including the two hard drives that held my photos. (Yes I had 2008 backed up, but not January – March 2009)

Hours with paperwork, police reports and long phone conversations with insurance claims, I thought I would never see another piece of camera gear. Just so you know, all my gear is paid for. I don’t use Visa… I work for it and when I have the money, then I get it.

Looking back now, It was a good check in my life to really see what was important. A friend called me to check on me a few days later. After a bit of conversation, he said, “You sound pretty calm for what’s just happened.” I’m so thankful for that. I don’t want this stuff to rule my life. I want it to be a tool for blessing not binding.

It’s one of those things that you really don’t know how you will react until it happens. In Christ, all I could do was trust that it would be OK. I didn’t need it all back. They had left me with one camera which was under a blanket on the front seat… It was OK… It was. Better than I deserve, our insurance was “Replacement Cost” insurance. I didn’t get everything replaced, but I was able to make some choices that would allow me to use this “stuff” for good. I got some good stuff.

This year, Lord willing, I will be traveling with World Vision to, Mexico and Guatemala and then a return visit to Uganda for Faith Quest Uganda 2010 with a ministry team from the NW. It’s my goal to use the gift of photography to bless many and tell the story of people around the world. Photography is a wonderful tool to be used and I plan on using it for blessings and not curses.

peace.
johno~

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And the WINNER IS…

With the help of my son Caleb, one of five folded pieces of paper, containing five different names, was pulled by the 7 year old Thomas kid.

AND THE WINNER IS… THE OTHER JOHN THOMAS.

10. Learn the technical aspects of your equipment, and learn them well. (Most of my photographic troubles can be brought down to this.) Ansell Adams was great not only because of his focus (no pun intended) on a single sort of photo, but also because he taught himself the ways of getting what he wanted from his camera.

As technique improves, it has the added benefit of being less necessary to keep in the front of one’s mind. You can follow what works with less thought, and can deliberately adjust things to make a point of what would, in a different shot, be a mistake. As Marcel Marceau said, we learn the rules so that we may forget them.

John, congratulations on the win. If you could email me your address, I’ll send out your $5 Starbucks gift card.

Now, for the other four who didn’t win… don’t worry. I’ve got another contest coming this weeking.

Thanks everyone for your post. This was fun to do.

peace.
johno~

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My Top Ten Photographs of 2009

I’m not sure how I managed to pick these photos out of the thousands I took last year… and limiting it to 10 was tough, but I managed it. They might not be the best photos, but each one of them touch a bit of my story 2009.

These pictures are stories that speak to my life: hope, peace, forgiveness, love, family, renewal, culture, fun, relationship and travel are a few of the words that come to mind. The stories in these images helped me through one of the most difficult years in my life and have been very healing.

In many ways I’m still healing… for that, I’m so thankful for Jesus who truly is the greatest healer. (Jehovah-Rapha) He is more than any photo or book could contain. How exciting to see little glimpses of Him all around us.

I can’t wait to see what TEN photos come from this year and what stories they will bring.

Peace.
johno~

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52 blessings 01.2010


Well, it’s the start of a new year and a new photo challenge. This years photo theme will be “52 Blessings.” After last years photo challenge wreck and the disaster of having my gear stolen in the 3rd month of the year, I thought it would be best to focus this year on my many, many blessings.

Blessing number one… Life. One of my favorite quotes is from Rabindranath Tagore. He says, “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” Oh how true. Life is one of the best examples of hope we have. I believe this is the reason Jesus gives us hope… because He gives life. His life… so we might live.

As I start this year, I start with blessing number one… my life. I know this is a photo of my newborn daughter, but this IS my life. What a wonderful blessing and I am very thankful I have the opportunity to do something with it.

My you also come to know that you are a blessing.

peace.
johno~

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Thoughts on”Getting into Photography”with a prize.

An email I get often is,

“Hey friend, could I get some advice from you? I am looking possibly at getting into photography and I am considering buying a camera. Any ideas or places to start? Thanks!”

So I thought I might share my story about how I came about my photo gear and some lessons learned along the way.My first “real” digital camera was a 2 megapixel fuji point and shoot.

It was amazing to take a picture and see your image instantly, let a lone print it on your crappy color printer… but still, you could print your photos at home. In November of 2004 I upgraded to a Fuji FinePix 5000, a 3 megapixel camera, for a trip I was taking to Uganda, Africa. It was with that camera I fell in love with photography. I still have it and I’m finding it hard to think of letting it go… even though I can’t remember the last time I used it.When I decided to get serious about photography, I didn’t start by looking for a camera… I started by looking for an image, scene… something to capture rather. I must have looked at thousands of images posted in forums like flickr reading the info on what lens and body the photo was taken with. It was only when I knew what I wanted to capture that I discovered what tool I would need to get the “shot.” The simple Fuji 5000 had enough to get me started on my journey. Because the image I wanted was the typical African wild safari shots as seen in National Geographic. It had a 10x optical zoom which I knew would be important for my trip. However, it wouldn’t be wildlife I would fall in love with, it would be people. As a matter of fact, the Fuji is the only camera that has produced an award winning image for me which was displayed in Time Square, New York.So none of this, I need more gear. Gear is good… Vision is better.My only unseen setback, as I started to develop my craft, with the Fuji, was camera speed. Most point and shoot cameras really lag when trying to focus on a moving object. They also struggle in writing the image to the memory card. This “camera lag” can be very frustrating when trying to take action shots of your kids soccer team or any other fast action/continuous shooting.I needed to take the next step… I knew the images I wanted and I had to find the camera that could do the job. I picked up a night job cleaning a bakery to pay cash for my first DSLR. Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) is a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. I bought a Canon 20D and the Canon 28-135 IS kit lens. I bought them new and spent about $1400. Moving from a point and shoot to a DSLR is like switching from a Kia minivan to a formula 1 race car. I had almost one year of frustration and bad images with my “semi-professional” camera. There are not as many “idiot” lights in an F1 race car as in a Kia minivan. So if you are thinking of getting a DSLR, buckle up. You’re in for a great ride but you might not finish the race in first place… not yet at least.Now, for the sake of my Canon and Nikon friends, I don’t think I’ll recommend one over the other. Both do a good job of taking pictures and both companies technology seems to leap frog each other depending on the year. There are great things about both of them and you just need to pick one up and see how it feels to you. But if you do go with Nikon, don’t ask me for help… I know nothing about Nikon.Here’s my suggestion of thing to do, or consider when getting into photography. It’s not everything you need to know. If you have more question, I would love to chat with you… but here we go.1. PAY CASH FOR ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT! Photography is an expensive hobby. So I cannot scream this loud enough. NEVER charge camera equipment. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. If you want it work hard for it. You will enjoy your camera more if it’s paid for. Understand that there are LOTS of gadgets to buy. Take your time to grow your gear.2. Don’t be afraid to buy used. (I would not recommend ebay) There are a few good forums around with a community of photographers who sell used equipment. I’ve purchased 4 camera bodies and 2 Pro lenses used from forums… all of them in excellent condition. Warning… there are some who scam. Use common sense. Check feedback of a seller, do your homework and ask questions before you buy. The only forums I’ve used are Fred Miranda or dgrin.com Locate the “buy/sell” in these forums and browse away. You can get some great deals on entry level DSLR’s in these forums.3. If you go the DSLR route spend you money on the glass. Your lens is the money of your gear. Camera bodies come and go and there value drops like a rock. I bought a used Canon 1D in 2008 for $500… It retailed for $6000 when it was first released in 2001. Nikon and Canon glass do a fare job of maintaining their value. As a matter of fact, I have seen the price of Canon’s 100 2.8 macro lens increase from $450 in 2006 to $600 in 2010. This isn’t a Luxury glass… it’s a simple macro. A premium lens is going to have a low aperture number. Example f/1.8, f/2.8, f/4. This number is what allows light into your camera and should be faster to focus on your subject. The bigger the number, the less light can get in… these higher apertures, f/3.5, f/5.6, f/6.3 or higher are less expensive and can be slower to focus on your subject. A camera lens that says 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, for example, means at 28mm (zoomed out) the maximum light that can get in is f/3.5. At 300mm (zoomed in) the maximum light that can get in is f/6.3. At f/6.3 you need a twice the amount of light from the f/3.5 setting. Blah, blah, blah.4. Spend a few extra dollars for some accessories. Extra batteries and memory cards are a must. I can’t tell you the times I’ve gone out on a shoot with someone and their “new” camera for the day only to have it cut short because their one and only battery died or they filled up their flash one card.5. Find a good camera bag. You just invested a big chunk of change and you should baby it in a nice padded case, pack or bag.6. Once you get your equipment, use it. Go out on the town and get the feel for it. Check out an online photographers forum and upload your pics and ask for feedback. Again, I highly recommend the two forums above. Some forums are filled with self righteous diva’s and can be nasty.7. Make sure your equipment is insured. You can take out Renters insurance or homeowners insurance or a special rider for your gear. March of 2009 in one swoop, someone stole 90% of my photo gear. I have replaced most of my gear with better equipment because I had the right insurance.8. Buy an extra hard drive and back up your images in more than one place.9. If you decide to go with a point and shoot model, see if you can get one with a hot shoe. (that’s the thing on top of the camera that lets you add a flash unit to the camera). With a hot shoe mount you will be able to do a few extra things that you wouldn’t be able to do without one. example, using stobes or speedlights (flashes), etc.10. Insert your question here. This is the first time I’ve ever written this down and so you might have a good question I’ve not stated in the top nine. Or something better to contribute.So here’s the deal, the odds are in your favor since there are about 10 people who read this blog. The best question or number 10 thing one needs to know when getting into photography will WIN a $5 Starbucks gift card. I’ll open this up for a week and see what kind of feedback I get and announce the winner next Friday. I know, $5 Starbucks gift card isn’t much, but until I get better sponsors, this is going to have to do. Enjoy your FREE drink while you consider which camera to buy or enjoy your coffee while you dream of things to photograph that day.I look forward to your comments.peace.johno~

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Thoughts on "Getting into Photography" with a prize.

An email I get often is,

“Hey friend, could I get some advice from you? I am looking possibly at getting into photography and I am considering buying a camera. Any ideas or places to start? Thanks!”

So I thought I might share my story about how I came about my photo gear and some lessons learned along the way.

My first “real” digital camera was a 2 megapixel fuji point and shoot.

It was amazing to take a picture and see your image instantly, let a lone print it on your crappy color printer… but still, you could print your photos at home. In November of 2004 I upgraded to a Fuji FinePix 5000, a 3 megapixel camera, for a trip I was taking to Uganda, Africa. It was with that camera I fell in love with photography. I still have it and I’m finding it hard to think of letting it go… even though I can’t remember the last time I used it.

When I decided to get serious about photography, I didn’t start by looking for a camera… I started by looking for an image, scene… something to capture rather. I must have looked at thousands of images posted in forums like flickr reading the info on what lens and body the photo was taken with. It was only when I knew what I wanted to capture that I discovered what tool I would need to get the “shot.” The simple Fuji 5000 had enough to get me started on my journey. Because the image I wanted was the typical African wild safari shots as seen in National Geographic. It had a 10x optical zoom which I knew would be important for my trip. However, it wouldn’t be wildlife I would fall in love with, it would be people. As a matter of fact, the Fuji is the only camera that has produced an award winning image for me which was displayed in Time Square, New York.

So none of this, I need more gear. Gear is good… Vision is better.

My only unseen setback, as I started to develop my craft, with the Fuji, was camera speed. Most point and shoot cameras really lag when trying to focus on a moving object. They also struggle in writing the image to the memory card. This “camera lag” can be very frustrating when trying to take action shots of your kids soccer team or any other fast action/continuous shooting.

I needed to take the next step… I knew the images I wanted and I had to find the camera that could do the job. I picked up a night job cleaning a bakery to pay cash for my first DSLR. Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) is a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. I bought a Canon 20D and the Canon 28-135 IS kit lens. I bought them new and spent about $1400. Moving from a point and shoot to a DSLR is like switching from a Kia minivan to a formula 1 race car. I had almost one year of frustration and bad images with my “semi-professional” camera. There are not as many “idiot” lights in an F1 race car as in a Kia minivan. So if you are thinking of getting a DSLR, buckle up. You’re in for a great ride but you might not finish the race in first place… not yet at least.

Now, for the sake of my Canon and Nikon friends, I don’t think I’ll recommend one over the other. Both do a good job of taking pictures and both companies technology seems to leap frog each other depending on the year. There are great things about both of them and you just need to pick one up and see how it feels to you. But if you do go with Nikon, don’t ask me for help… I know nothing about Nikon.

Here’s my suggestion of thing to do, or consider when getting into photography. It’s not everything you need to know. If you have more question, I would love to chat with you… but here we go.

1. PAY CASH FOR ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT! Photography is an expensive hobby. So I cannot scream this loud enough. NEVER charge camera equipment. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. If you want it work hard for it. You will enjoy your camera more if it’s paid for. Understand that there are LOTS of gadgets to buy. Take your time to grow your gear.

2. Don’t be afraid to buy used. (I would not recommend ebay) There are a few good forums around with a community of photographers who sell used equipment. I’ve purchased 4 camera bodies and 2 Pro lenses used from forums… all of them in excellent condition. Warning… there are some who scam. Use common sense. Check feedback of a seller, do your homework and ask questions before you buy. The only forums I’ve used are Fred Miranda or dgrin.com Locate the “buy/sell” in these forums and browse away. You can get some great deals on entry level DSLR’s in these forums.

3. If you go the DSLR route spend you money on the glass. Your lens is the money of your gear. Camera bodies come and go and there value drops like a rock. I bought a used Canon 1D in 2008 for $500… It retailed for $6000 when it was first released in 2001. Nikon and Canon glass do a fare job of maintaining their value. As a matter of fact, I have seen the price of Canon’s 100 2.8 macro lens increase from $450 in 2006 to $600 in 2010. This isn’t a Luxury glass… it’s a simple macro. A premium lens is going to have a low aperture number. Example f/1.8, f/2.8, f/4. This number is what allows light into your camera and should be faster to focus on your subject. The bigger the number, the less light can get in… these higher apertures, f/3.5, f/5.6, f/6.3 or higher are less expensive and can be slower to focus on your subject. A camera lens that says 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, for example, means at 28mm (zoomed out) the maximum light that can get in is f/3.5. At 300mm (zoomed in) the maximum light that can get in is f/6.3. At f/6.3 you need a twice the amount of light from the f/3.5 setting. Blah, blah, blah.

4. Spend a few extra dollars for some accessories. Extra batteries and memory cards are a must. I can’t tell you the times I’ve gone out on a shoot with someone and their “new” camera for the day only to have it cut short because their one and only battery died or they filled up their flash one card.

5. Find a good camera bag. You just invested a big chunk of change and you should baby it in a nice padded case, pack or bag.

6. Once you get your equipment, use it. Go out on the town and get the feel for it. Check out an online photographers forum and upload your pics and ask for feedback. Again, I highly recommend the two forums above. Some forums are filled with self righteous diva’s and can be nasty.

7. Make sure your equipment is insured. You can take out Renters insurance or homeowners insurance or a special rider for your gear. March of 2009 in one swoop, someone stole 90% of my photo gear. I have replaced most of my gear with better equipment because I had the right insurance.

8. Buy an extra hard drive and back up your images in more than one place.

9. If you decide to go with a point and shoot model, see if you can get one with a hot shoe. (that’s the thing on top of the camera that lets you add a flash unit to the camera). With a hot shoe mount you will be able to do a few extra things that you wouldn’t be able to do without one. example, using stobes or speedlights (flashes), etc.

10. Insert your question here. This is the first time I’ve ever written this down and so you might have a good question I’ve not stated in the top nine. Or something better to contribute.

So here’s the deal, the odds are in your favor since there are about 10 people who read this blog. The best question or number 10 thing one needs to know when getting into photography will WIN a $5 Starbucks gift card. I’ll open this up for a week and see what kind of feedback I get and announce the winner next Friday. I know, $5 Starbucks gift card isn’t much, but until I get better sponsors, this is going to have to do. Enjoy your FREE drink while you consider which camera to buy or enjoy your coffee while you dream of things to photograph that day.

I look forward to your comments.

peace.
johno~

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Thoughts on “Getting into Photography” with a prize.

An email I get often is,

“Hey friend, could I get some advice from you? I am looking possibly at getting into photography and I am considering buying a camera. Any ideas or places to start? Thanks!”

So I thought I might share my story about how I came about my photo gear and some lessons learned along the way.

My first “real” digital camera was a 2 megapixel fuji point and shoot.

It was amazing to take a picture and see your image instantly, let a lone print it on your crappy color printer… but still, you could print your photos at home. In November of 2004 I upgraded to a Fuji FinePix 5000, a 3 megapixel camera, for a trip I was taking to Uganda, Africa. It was with that camera I fell in love with photography. I still have it and I’m finding it hard to think of letting it go… even though I can’t remember the last time I used it.

When I decided to get serious about photography, I didn’t start by looking for a camera… I started by looking for an image, scene… something to capture rather. I must have looked at thousands of images posted in forums like flickr reading the info on what lens and body the photo was taken with. It was only when I knew what I wanted to capture that I discovered what tool I would need to get the “shot.” The simple Fuji 5000 had enough to get me started on my journey. Because the image I wanted was the typical African wild safari shots as seen in National Geographic. It had a 10x optical zoom which I knew would be important for my trip. However, it wouldn’t be wildlife I would fall in love with, it would be people. As a matter of fact, the Fuji is the only camera that has produced an award winning image for me which was displayed in Time Square, New York.

So none of this, I need more gear. Gear is good… Vision is better.

My only unseen setback, as I started to develop my craft, with the Fuji, was camera speed. Most point and shoot cameras really lag when trying to focus on a moving object. They also struggle in writing the image to the memory card. This “camera lag” can be very frustrating when trying to take action shots of your kids soccer team or any other fast action/continuous shooting.

I needed to take the next step… I knew the images I wanted and I had to find the camera that could do the job. I picked up a night job cleaning a bakery to pay cash for my first DSLR. Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) is a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. I bought a Canon 20D and the Canon 28-135 IS kit lens. I bought them new and spent about $1400. Moving from a point and shoot to a DSLR is like switching from a Kia minivan to a formula 1 race car. I had almost one year of frustration and bad images with my “semi-professional” camera. There are not as many “idiot” lights in an F1 race car as in a Kia minivan. So if you are thinking of getting a DSLR, buckle up. You’re in for a great ride but you might not finish the race in first place… not yet at least.

Now, for the sake of my Canon and Nikon friends, I don’t think I’ll recommend one over the other. Both do a good job of taking pictures and both companies technology seems to leap frog each other depending on the year. There are great things about both of them and you just need to pick one up and see how it feels to you. But if you do go with Nikon, don’t ask me for help… I know nothing about Nikon.

Here’s my suggestion of thing to do, or consider when getting into photography. It’s not everything you need to know. If you have more question, I would love to chat with you… but here we go.

1. PAY CASH FOR ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT! Photography is an expensive hobby. So I cannot scream this loud enough. NEVER charge camera equipment. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. If you want it work hard for it. You will enjoy your camera more if it’s paid for. Understand that there are LOTS of gadgets to buy. Take your time to grow your gear.

2. Don’t be afraid to buy used. (I would not recommend ebay) There are a few good forums around with a community of photographers who sell used equipment. I’ve purchased 4 camera bodies and 2 Pro lenses used from forums… all of them in excellent condition. Warning… there are some who scam. Use common sense. Check feedback of a seller, do your homework and ask questions before you buy. The only forums I’ve used are Fred Miranda or dgrin.com Locate the “buy/sell” in these forums and browse away. You can get some great deals on entry level DSLR’s in these forums.

3. If you go the DSLR route spend you money on the glass. Your lens is the money of your gear. Camera bodies come and go and there value drops like a rock. I bought a used Canon 1D in 2008 for $500… It retailed for $6000 when it was first released in 2001. Nikon and Canon glass do a fare job of maintaining their value. As a matter of fact, I have seen the price of Canon’s 100 2.8 macro lens increase from $450 in 2006 to $600 in 2010. This isn’t a Luxury glass… it’s a simple macro. A premium lens is going to have a low aperture number. Example f/1.8, f/2.8, f/4. This number is what allows light into your camera and should be faster to focus on your subject. The bigger the number, the less light can get in… these higher apertures, f/3.5, f/5.6, f/6.3 or higher are less expensive and can be slower to focus on your subject. A camera lens that says 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, for example, means at 28mm (zoomed out) the maximum light that can get in is f/3.5. At 300mm (zoomed in) the maximum light that can get in is f/6.3. At f/6.3 you need a twice the amount of light from the f/3.5 setting. Blah, blah, blah.

4. Spend a few extra dollars for some accessories. Extra batteries and memory cards are a must. I can’t tell you the times I’ve gone out on a shoot with someone and their “new” camera for the day only to have it cut short because their one and only battery died or they filled up their flash one card.

5. Find a good camera bag. You just invested a big chunk of change and you should baby it in a nice padded case, pack or bag.

6. Once you get your equipment, use it. Go out on the town and get the feel for it. Check out an online photographers forum and upload your pics and ask for feedback. Again, I highly recommend the two forums above. Some forums are filled with self righteous diva’s and can be nasty.

7. Make sure your equipment is insured. You can take out Renters insurance or homeowners insurance or a special rider for your gear. March of 2009 in one swoop, someone stole 90% of my photo gear. I have replaced most of my gear with better equipment because I had the right insurance.

8. Buy an extra hard drive and back up your images in more than one place.

9. If you decide to go with a point and shoot model, see if you can get one with a hot shoe. (that’s the thing on top of the camera that lets you add a flash unit to the camera). With a hot shoe mount you will be able to do a few extra things that you wouldn’t be able to do without one. example, using stobes or speedlights (flashes), etc.

10. Insert your question here. This is the first time I’ve ever written this down and so you might have a good question I’ve not stated in the top nine. Or something better to contribute.

So here’s the deal, the odds are in your favor since there are about 10 people who read this blog. The best question or number 10 thing one needs to know when getting into photography will WIN a $5 Starbucks gift card. I’ll open this up for a week and see what kind of feedback I get and announce the winner next Friday. I know, $5 Starbucks gift card isn’t much, but until I get better sponsors, this is going to have to do. Enjoy your FREE drink while you consider which camera to buy or enjoy your coffee while you dream of things to photograph that day.

I look forward to your comments.

peace.
johno~

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Winter Wonder Time

It’s cold, there’s snow and ice and most of the color has gone. Color has slipped away for a few moments of rest before celebration of spring. However, winter offers a unique time of the year for photographers to focus on their black and white photography… whether they want to or not and I’m ok with that… I enjoy black and white photography but, not all color is dormant during winter. Winter offers some colors to shine unlike most other times of the year. You just have to find it. So goes my journey. Until the blooming flowers of spring birth from the ground, I will do my best to find the hidden during this winter wonder time.

Interestingly enough, many believe Jesus and His work is only black and white. True, Jesus has some beautiful black and white images that I love. It’s just that there’s color the masters work too. We just need to look for it. It’s not hard, it’s all around us and we’re really without excuse if we don’t see it. If someone has shown you only the black and white art of Jesus, I invite you to see the colors that he offers in every season. Go ahead and look… you might discover you are one of His many beautiful colors and so is the person next to you.

Take a look around this winter… it’s not just black and white.



Peace.
johno~

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