Posts Tagged ‘Contest’

International Guild of Visual Peacemakers

I’m trying to use my powers for hope and not hurt. Photography has been a wonderful tool for me to help bring awareness to many about the world we live in. I’ve been very blessed to travel to several third world cultures, independently and with World Vision using photography to tell a different story… a story of hope. Everyone is created equal in the eyes of God… I’m amazed at how so many never see that.Later this week I will be meeting with a friend who will help me define some ideas for a website on how to help people “see” better the opportunities to serve people around them. However, until I get my peas in a row, there’s a group of photographers with a similar core value that I have who want to use photography to help redefine the world we live in through the images we receive.I would encourage you, if you are a person who takes photos and has a soul for poverty and justice issues, that you check out the International Guild of Visual PeacemakersVisual PeacemakersStop by and look around. It’s brand new, but has good potential to bring humanitarian photography into new light.peace.johno~CONTEST UPDATE!I realized I didn’t give a deadline for my contest, so I’m shooting for this Friday, August 27th at 12:00 PM, Pacific Time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s OK… I forgive you. Check out my post here for the story and the contest.

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The WINNER IS…

Number 4 according to RANDOM.ORG.I assigned a number, starting at one from the very first comment being number 1, to the final comment being number 31. I entered the minimum number and the maximum number at random.org and clicked “generate” which gave me the number 4.The fourth comment made was in the first post by Patty.Congratulations Patty! You’re the winner of the Uganda basket in this weeks give away.I can even had deliver it, since I will be in Portland tomorrow.If you didn’t win this time, don’t worry… I’ve got more to come.Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement.johno~

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Welcome to the new site!

Hey everyone… Welcome to my new website, lightexposure.org. Well, you might also notice that it’s still johno.org but the lightexposure will point here for now. Much of this site is still being worked on, but I like the look and I think it has potential for future projects. Future projects I would like to finally see take off.I’m making this change because I need a fresh start. I’m not sure that I have fully developed my idea but that’s ok. What I really want to do is write more… everyday really. However, I know that sometimes my schedule prevents it. I believe that’s no excuse. I could schedule blog posts for days I know will be more hectic than others. I don’t have to write a novel. I just need to write. Alas, I have a fear. Fear that what I have to say is worthless. Have you ever felt that way? I have a fear of writing something and someone thinking, “what an idiot.” Ever think that?I love the ending of Robert Mckee’s book, “Story” where he says,

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Keep Story at hand. Use what you learn from it as a guide, until command of its principles becomes as natural as the talent you were born with. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.

Oh, that’s what I want. I want courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure.So here I go! I’m launching this site with a challenge to myself and a reward to those of you who find yourself getting involved here with me.This week, I’d like to know your thoughts on what topics you think get talked about to much on social websites, i.e. blogs, twitter, facebook, etc… and what topics don’t get much attention on the web.My promise is to choose one topic from the comments and blog everyday this week about something you think doesn’t get much attention.Here are the rules:1. Since this site is viewed by some of my children, your topics must be family friendly.2. You can post your ideas once a day. You can comment as much as you like on things suggested by others or even your own ideas… but, only one post with your ideas will be count.At the end of the week I’ll throw your name in a bucket for every post you made and draw a name at random. That name will WIN a nice basket from Uganda, Africa.If I choose your topic for the day, you will get two shots… One for posting and one for having your topic chosen.I’m just trying to have a little fun and get a bunch of folks over here to my website. I have some great ideas for the future and I don’t want to keep them to myself… and I have no shame bribing folks to read my blog or visit my site.So there you have it. I’ll post a picture of the basket on my twitter account. If you are not following me on twitter, you can do so at lightexposure or you can find it on facebook.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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“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~

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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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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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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~

Share

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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