Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Curious.

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True North Helping Hands and I

Well, I turn 41 in just a few days and I will have the pleasure of spending it in Ensenada, Mexico shooting photos for a ministry group that helps build schools for displaced indigenous people. True North Helping Hands. Unfortunately my family will not be there with me. Last year, I was in Uganda on my 40th birthday and Hannah was there with me… not this time. It seems to be the trend that the older you get the less important birthdays are. What once was, “YEAH! I’M OLDER!” becomes, “yeah… I’m old… er.”I still believe that my 40′s are going to be the best years of my life… and of course I’ll stand firm on that… until I turn 50.Yet, one thing I know, I’m living a wonderful life. I have a beautiful family and I know they give more than I can ever know.So, if you think about it, lift my family up in prayer while we are apart.I hope to have some images to share with you soon from my trip to the Dominican Republic with World Vision. They have posted some of them on their Child Ambassador website HERE.peace.johno~

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Dominican Republic

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Well, here we go again.

It’s time to pack my bags again. This time I’m off to the Dominican Republic with World Vision. My wonderful family has allowed me to share my gift of photography with others and I’m very grateful for them allowing this… Especially my son Adam who will be turning FIVE on March 21st.This map represent where I’ve been and where I’m going. I thought about putting a, where I would like to go… but, I didn’t.It’s funny… When I was a child, my mother would always say, “If it be the Lords will, we’ll see you later.” Or, “I’m planing on seeing you if it be the Lords will.” I suppose she has this Bible verse on her mind when she says it…

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”James 4:13-15

I find it funny that I think of this only when I have big travels but shouldn’t this include everyday? It’s almost like only praying to God for the BIG things and thinking He wants little or nothing of the small things in our lives. How arrogant we can be somethings.So, having grown older and wiser I would like to say, “If it is the Lord’s will,I will do this or that on the map this year and everything in between”LORD, I don’t know where this is going or how it all works out but lead me Lord into the path that never fails.I hope to be able to blog while on my trip, but I know that it’s not always possible to do so.Now I’m off to pack and gather the few things I need before the 19th.peace.johno~

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Blurred.

It’s the only thing I can think of… blur. This last month has been a blur full of ups and downs. I’m so thankful for all those who have stood by our family in thoughts and prayers. This last Monday it had been 30 days since my wife’s mother passed away. Blur.

A mix of things moving so fast and the kind of blur that comes when you first wake up in the morning when you’re trying to read your alarm clock, hoping it says 7:15 AM and not 9:15 AM.As far as writing this blog, I feel like it’s 9:15 AM and I’m late. Your heart races to get ready to go because you realize you should have been somewhere an hour ago. Skip the shower, not the brushing of teeth. Forget breakfast, the most important meal of the day… I’ve got to go. Every attempt to arrive at your appointment is full of detours, red lights and that fellow driving in front of you that seems to have no plans to be anywhere until December 12th… 2012!That’s how I’ve felt. So here I am, back at the keyboard typing away wondering, “Where in the world do I start?”Why not with photography? I’m reminded that not every image looks good sharp. True, everyone wants sharper images and they spend lots of money to get that result, but there is something to be “looked” at in images that are blurred. I’ve posted a few images that I would consider more “artsy” than anything else. These images are ranked in my top images. (Which means I have them saved as desktop screen images).I’ve heard and seen a lot of frustration with images being blurred or out of focus (OOF). Some of these OOF and blurred shots could really be something more if you spent a few moments thinking of new ways to see them. This could be converting the image to black and white, over saturating the colors, adding film grain or square cropping the image.I would love to see some examples of images you’ve reworked. True, some images will not cut it, but you never know unless you try.This is what I’m trying to do with my blurred month. I’m really hoping to get something usable out of the entire thing. I’m hoping for beautiful art and not something I just throw away.peace.johno~

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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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Don’t change your photography, pick it up.

I most likely will never be known as one of the top “photo blogs” for student or aspiring photographers and that’s OK. In a world where it seems as if everyone owns a camera of some kind, it also seems as if everyone is now a photographer, and I’m OK with that too. So, in the world of “Big Brother” with cameras everywhere, what makes your image different from anyone else?I can’t tell you how many Sunset images I’ve seen in my life time, but there once was a time when a good sunset photo made me “oohhhh” and “awwwwww.” But now, from expensive DSLR’s to small compact point-n-shoots, everyone shoots sunsets and it’s hard for me to fall in love with something that everyone has. Like it’s lost value. I sometimes feel like an adult who walks over a penny, because, it’s a penny and not worth the effort of bending down to pocket the small value. However, when a child sees a shiny or even a dull copper coin they act as if they’ve hit the jackpot… The gods have smiled on them and they know it’s going to be an incredible day. With a small amount of effort and a ton of enthusiasm, they bend down and pick it up the coin. At the end of the day, their efforts truly have paid off and my pockets are still empty because I didn’t take the time to act of something of value. There is value, we just have to “pick it up.”Taking better photos can simply be, taking a moment of time to “pick up the pennies.” I recently watched a video by a guy who shot an entire model shoot with an iPhone, which proves you don’t have to have great equipment to do good work. Any device that captures an image will do. You just have to make an effort and think a bit different. The guy with the iPhone used hot lights to light his model and a touch up artist for the final product… I’m not saying you have to do all of that, but make some effort to see what you want to photograph from a perspective that’s different from the next guy.Here are a couple things you might try.Shoot from a low angle.Bend down and pick up the penny. You’d be surprised by the difference an image makes when you “get down.” Most people walk around shooting pictures from their physical eye level and because of that, many people with cameras miss incredible photo opportunities. Break from the average five foot nine photo shot and get on your knees or better yet, put your ear to the ground and click away.Go wide. Here’s an example of three images that I stitched together using photoshop.There’s plenty of free software that can help you “stitch” a photo together. Wide angle lenses are fun, but can be expensive, unless you pick up a bunch of pennies. In order to get that wide angle shot, take three or four photos across your subject and then use your favorite photo program or the one that came with you printer to stitch them together. You’ll end up with something no one else has… because no one else took the time.Sure it takes a small amount of effort, but that effort will make you stand above the rest and you’ll start feeling better about your photography. Just my two cents worth… you can take it or leave it.peace.johno~

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A taste for photography

If you have cable, you’ve most likely watched the Food Network or at least been stopped on the channel as they show delicious entrees that make your mouth water and your stomach growl. I admit, I like the food channel. I use to watch it regularly, but, I soon became frustrated. I couldn’t understand why my food looked and tasted nothing like what was shown. They take this and that, in pre-measured cups and dishes… drop here and there… place everything into one oven… pull some masterpiece from another oven… and TADAAAAA! Frustrating to say the least.Yet, taking a closer look at the food network, you might realize there is much more going on than the one hour show can air. Research, trial and error, adjustments to ingredients, etc. The deal is, it takes time. I found that I’m not the kind of person who wants to take the time to perfect a masterpiece when it comes to food. I try to accomplish my dish in 30 minutes before my wife gets home for dinner and I find that I’ve rushed it to fast, cut corners and have finished half the wine intended for the recipe… and I don’t usually drink wine. Sure there’s iron chef… those guys crank out 7 dishes in one hour on live TV… But, I’m no Iron chef, I’m more like tin can chef. I buy the ingredients and want it to look just like what I saw on TV. Sometimes I get close, but for the most part, I fall way short.Photography can be like cooking in many ways. I get many compliments on my photography and I thank you for your encouragement. But, on the other hand I hear many tell me how they “wish they could take better pictures on their cameras” and I’m here to say, “you can… It’s just going to take some time.” My friend Jason is the master BBQ’er. I wish I had the patience to smoke meat like he does… I think about cooking on my BBQ a few hours before we eat… Jason thinks days before, smokes meat all night for the next day and ends up with a masterpiece that make me want to lick my computer screen when he post an image of his dish.There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to photography, but for the most part it’s not a frozen dinner you pop in the microwave for 3 minutes and eat. Good stuff doesn’t come in a frozen entree that takes 3 minutes to warm up.I want to give an you an example of the photo above as it came out of my camera. I shoot in what is called “RAW” format and very rarely in jpeg, (if you would like to know more about what RAW is, google, “shooting in RAW” and you will find a lot on the topic from people smarter than me). Like going to the market to find all the right ingredients, when I shoot photos, I look for the right “ingredients” that will add to the final product in the end. I try my best to plan for as much as I can, so when I go to the “kitchen” I have everything I need to make the shot what I know it is or can be. So, here is my sunset shot from last night as it downloaded to my computer.There’s a bit of a difference between the first shot and the second… It took some time to make the first shot look like it does. All the ingredients were there. As I stood on the edge of the river, I knew I was going to like this dish.Photography takes time, planning and patience. Much of the splendor of your image will not be right out of the camera… it will be in the kitchen as you combine ingredients and bring the flavors out.peace.johno~DON’T FORGET: Only two days left to post comments and be entered into the drawing to win a basket I packed over from Uganda like a pack mule. Post your comments here and you could be a winner.Here’s a picture of the basket.

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grand canyon, arizonia

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World Vision Guatemala Trip 2010

Thank you everyone for your patience. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to partner with World Vision and their efforts to bring awareness to global relief through child sponsorship. If you would like more information about child sponsorship, please contact me or visit www.worldvision.org.

Here are a few photos from my trip. It’s not all of them and I will post some still images throughout the next few weeks. Until then, here’s a little slideshow put together by the folks at Animoto.

If you would like more information about Animoto, click the link at the bottom of the this blog page under “sponsors.”

Peace.
johno~

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Coming Soon!


I’ve been back from Guatemala for a few days now. Still tired and feeling a bit overwhelmed with work. I’m trudging through lots of photos to post for the World Vision team. Have patience… This isn’t my first job, nor my first love. Family and the job that pays me must be in order. I hope to have a set up by the end of the week.

Until the whole world hears.
johno~

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52 blessing 05.2010


I remember my first taste of coffee… my mothers instant “tasters choice” YAK! I’m not sure how old I was, but I’ll never forget the laughs as my contorted face brought forth wonderful amusement for those watching. It wouldn’t be until I was 19 and fighting fire for Chelan County Fire Department. (Yes, I was a firefighter, EMT at one time). It was winter and cold. Fighting fire in the cold nights, wet and freezing, I knew I had to do something, but coffee? YAK! A friend of mine told me, “You need to drink coffee. What else is there” I told him about my experience with coffee, “tasters choice” and for what I tasted to be the “tasters choice” it must have been in the line up with chum, dirty toilet water and charcoal mixed with burnt food and water. He laughed at me like the others did so many years ago and he told me I needed to try an espresso shot.

My first espresso shot. I would like to say it was heaven, it was not. I still didn’t have the taste for coffee, but I was going to. It wasn’t a matter of liking the taste… it was a matter of staying warm. I knew I would drink coffee if it killed me and I would learn to drink it straight. None of this fancy pants stuff… Cream, sugar, etc. With as much junk as some folks put in their coffee, I doubt they are really drinking coffee.

Winter forged on and I forced every hot cup of coffee down that I could to stay warm. I was told the secret to good coffee was never washing your mug. I gave it a shot and I’m not sure when it really happened, but I got hooked… I fell head over heals for the taste and smell of coffee. I can’t imagine not having a nice hot cup of BLACK coffee. It is one of the best parts of each day. The aroma early in the morning just makes me smile.

Is it a drug? Am I addicted? Say what you want… I don’t really care. I love my coffee.

I’ve managed to have coffee from many parts of the world. Darker roasts are my favorite and I enjoy beans from Africa.

Is this a blessing? Of course it is. Take it away from me though and it could be a curse… for you. :)

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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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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The Challenge

I’ve had several challenges come my way in the past few weeks. Spiritual, physical and mental all at the same time and each one seems to have come from a different source.

Today’s challenge was to think in a different format. A friend of mine, Don Wheeler and I took a stroll to Porters Pond down by the Columbia river. At 3:30 PM the sun had already dropped behind the Wenatchee hill line. It was cold and it was getting dark fast. I didn’t expect much… However, just being out with a camera is good enough. I thought I would try to pretend that I had an old 6×6 camera. How would I frame the shot if it was a 1:1? I thought it would be a great challenge for my mind… the artsy side of my brain.

I’ve alway wanted to just take random shots (like many I see on flickr), and see if I could pull anything out of them. They’re the shots that are worthless except to the artist and then when he/she dies everyone has to have a copy. What any good art is. So here’s my attempt at being purposeful and artsy with an eye looking through my “Hasselblad” slash Canon 1Ds and some post work in Lightroom and Photoshop.

All of the images were run through PS using onOne’s photo tools pro. A great program I highly suggest to anyone wanting to move into a more professional level with their photography.
porterspond
Anyhow, here’s my offerings. You can see a larger version of it here.
porterspond-4
peace.
johno~

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Background for June and other things.

Well, it’s been a long time coming. I have to say it’s been difficult to get back to picture taking since my equipment was stolen. I’m blessed to have a lot back, but there’s still a few items I need to pick up.

I’ve had to rethink the monthly challenge, “Triptych” since some of the photos for the challenge were lost in the theft. I’ve tried to figure out how to make up for it… Thus, the difficulty in getting back into it all. I have one photo that was taken with my G9 that gives me one picture from the week prior to the theft. All others were taken. I had a really nice shot of a blue heron.

So, In the effort to try to salvage something this year, I’m going to just post pictures of the week. I have them, I just need to post them. Some will be triptychs and some will not. The rules are out and I’ve given the OK. WHEW! Pressures off.

I’m also trying to adjust my blog theme. I’ve heard from many of you that a malware warning has been detected. This, of course, doesn’t show up on my mac. I’m suspicious to the theme I was using. I’ll try something different and see how it goes.

Thanks to everyone who’s checked back here from time to time.

peace.
johno~

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