Computer Problems

I readily confess that I am a computer geek. I love the technology we have at our fingertips today, especially in the wonderful world of photography! After all, where would we be without digital cameras and post-processing software?

That being said, I also prefer our computers to work for us rather than the other way around. My old laptop was not even two years old and was causing me much pain and aggravation. I had already re-formatted the hard drive and re-installed Windows on the machine twice but was still having major problems. It was enough for me to start pulling my hair out!

The final straw came when I spent the better part of a day creating a presentation only to have my laptop completely let me down. I had used the thing all day but when I went to restart later nothing happened. After some frustrating troubleshooting, I discovered that the motherboard was fried. Arggghhhh!

Now many of us know that many photographers enjoy using Apple computers–well, Macs, to be exact. I was exposed to this preference in the photo world from many different angles–photo workshops, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. The thought was already in the back of my head that one day I would perhaps consider moving into the Mac world.

When my old laptop died, this thought came to the forefront in a huge way. I told my friend, who by the way only prefers windows pcs, that I was simply looking for a computer that didn’t require me to work to make it work before I got to work on it. Reliability and stability were my primary goals in looking for a new laptop to replace my old one.

Well, after some agonizing and deep thinking, I made the plunge and ordered my first Mac–a MacBook Pro laptop. It was ordered on a Thursday and traveled all the way from China to my doorstep on Monday! I was amazed at the quick delivery. I was even more amazed when I opened the package and turned on my new MacBook Pro!

I will not bore you too much with my enthusiasm now. Just let me say that I can see what others meant when they enthusiastically proclaimed their joy in using them!

So, this is my first blog in a long, long time due to computer problems. And yes, it is coming straight from my new MacBook Pro. I’ve had it for a little over a week and I love it! I am sure you will hear more about this in future blogs. For now, I am enjoying using Lightroom and Photoshop on my new laptop. It is quick, fast, and speedy!

I am hoping to say goodbye to computer problems. I am hoping this new laptop will keep those computer problems at bay. Only time will tell.

“R” is for R-Strap

Do you ever carry two cameras on a shoot? If you do then you know the trouble that comes with this territory. Two cameras on their original camera straps are prone to clank into each other and weigh your neck down. It is uncomfortable to say the least, is not good for your camera bodies or lenses, and just is not an efficient way to work.

I shoot a lot of baseball games and like to have two camera bodies on me. My main camera, the Nikon D300, sports the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and is mounted on a monopod. The second camera is my older Nikon D-70 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I really like this combination but carrying the second camera on its regular strap was becoming nothing short of a pain in the neck!

I heard about the R-Strap and decided to give it a try since I also had a wedding coming up. I tried it and I love it!

You can read my review of the R-Strap that I posted on my website. If  you ever carry two camera bodies you really should consider using the R-Strap.

New Nikon Lens Ordered

I just ordered a new Nikon lens; it is the 50mm f/1.4 and I cannot wait to receive it!

I have heard a lot of good things about this lens. The best feature of this lens is the ability to make photographs in available light. The fast f/1.4 aperture allows available light to create an image where no other lens will work. I cannot wait to try this lens out! I plan on using it for some wedding applications, portraits, and stock subjects. The reviews tout the usefulness as well as the versatility of this lens.

I know from firsthand experience that Nikon makes great glass. I never have to worry if my equipment is good enough. Nikon flat out makes excellent glass and I won’t buy anything else. I realize there are plenty of other lens manufacturers out there, but I am a devoted Nikon fan and will not apologize for this. Nikon is my preferred choice. I know that Canon and Olympus make excellent products, too, but I will stick with Nikon because I believe no one can beat their product line for what I am doing in my photography.

I expect to receive delivery of my new 50mm f/1.4 mm lens fairly soon and I am getting impatient already!

Old Fashioned Drawing Diagrams Can Help

I am a computer geek and prefer using the computer for just about everything possible. In fact, I’m not sure what I would do without a computer!

However, I still know the value of good old pen and paper. Drawing diagrams can help in planning a photo shoot. Where is the main light? Should you add a fill light and where should it be placed? How about your subject–where is it in relation to everything else? What about the camera–should it be at a low angle?

Admittedly, this is quite difficult when photographing wildlife, but just about every photo subject can be better photographed with advanced planning. I certainly am no artist, but diagrams definitely help me in the planning stages of a shoot. These diagrams allow me to think ahead and do some planning before I even get to the location.

I find these diagrams very useful. Give it a try. Before you go to you next photo shoot take some time to draw up a diagram or two and see if they help.

Get Out and Shoot!

I have a confession to make–I am a huge gear junkie!

I love to research and eventually purchase camera equipment of all kinds. B&H Photo and Nikon are two of my most favorite websites to frequent. In fact, they are typically in one of my many browser tabs. I also enjoy reading about equipment, comparing technical specifications, and reading user reviews on camera equipment. I have a long equipment “want list,” too.

But with all this research and dreaming, there is nothing better than getting outdoors to actually shot our cameras. The weather here in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania is finally starting to feel like spring. So instead of thinking about camera equipment it is time for me to get out and actually use the camera equipment I have currently!

We learn a lot by reading, but we can learn a whole more from experimenting and actually using our cameras and camera equipment in the field. Give it a try. Get out and shoot your camera!

It’s always fun to buy new equipment!

Today I received shipment of the MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Grip to be used with my Nikon D300. And I cannot wait to put it into use!

I recently watched DTown TV, hosted by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski. I love this show! On a recent episode they talked about the MB-D10 and how with using 8 AA batteries you can get 8 frames per second from the D300. Since I shoot a lot of baseball games, I figured this would be a great addition to my setup.

Ordering from B&H is always a pleasure and some day I am actually going to get to see their store in New York City. Then with the informative UPS tracking system I could confirm the expected delivery date and watch the packages make their way to my front door. Amazing! It sure beats the Pony Express!

Opening new camera equipment is fun, too. So fun, in fact, that I always forget to take a photo of the unopened package sitting before me. Oh well, now it’s time to start putting this puppy into use!

Is a computer considered photography equipment?

I readily admit that I am a computer geek. I took a Fortran computer language class at Temple University, back in the days when we still used punch cards! My laptop often has a large number of programs running in the task bar and my browser typically has far too many tabs open. Yeah, I like computers.

However, I would rather spend my hard-earned money on more photography equipment than on a computer! But reality has set in and I know I need a new pc. I recently purchased a Drobo and my current desktop is unable to run the Drobo–it’s just too old. My wife is reluctant to let me share her desktop pc, worrying that I will hog it much of the time and cut out too much of her surfing and pc game time! Hmmm, I guess I do have to spring for a new pc of my own.

I spent some time tonight configuring some pc arrangements. I am planning to use the new pc almost exclusively for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I want 3-4GB of RAM and a fast processor. Not much need for any other software at the moment. Oh, yeah, and I want Windows 7.0.

Do you think of your computer as photography equipment?

Using Flash

As a wildlife and sports photographer I do not use flash all that much. Yes, there are times when fill flash is needed for a shot, but those times are relatively few and far between for me. In fact, until recently I didn’t even pay attention to the necessity of learning about flash photography.

All this is changing, especially since the new flash strobes do an incredible job of replicating the natural light look. It is amazing what these small strobes can do and they even work wirelessly! I love the Nikon system that incorporates built-in wireless flash. With just a simple set up I can use my pop-up flash to fire an off-camera flash and get a variety of different looks. It is amazing!

Now don’t get me wrong; y0u still won’t see a flash on my camera very often, but when needed I will know how to use it. And isn’t this what photography is all about; using the tools at our disposal to achieve what we are looking for in a photograph?

The Value of a Spreadsheet

Do you know how much a spreadsheet can help your photography?

Most people assume that spreadsheets are only for working with numbers, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I use spreadsheets for all sorts of things. For example, I have one spreadsheet with my photo equipment dream list. One one sheet I prioritize the items I hope to buy in the future. On another sheet I track my savings for the next piece of gear. I can even compare features of several lenses side-by-side.

I use spreadsheets for upcoming photo events, too. I can list shots I don’t want to miss, create to do lists to make sure I am ready for the event, and even track my progress by using little check marks and highlighting what still needs to be accomplished.

Spreadsheets can be a great tool for the photography. Give it a try!

First Impressions

What do you think about first impressions?

Are you the kind of person who believes strongly in first impressions? Can you truly judge a book by its cover much of the time?

Well, my first impressions of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is full of praises. It is a beefy lens, which I like. Some say it is to big or too heavy and I’m think, “What? Are you crazy?” Far too many modern products are too flimsy and will not stand up to much that is thrown at it. Not the case with this lens!

The auto focus is quick and responsive and the AF-S adjustment allows the photographer to dial in a quick fix adjustment on the focus by hand. The range is nice, too–24mm to 70mm, which is the perfect range under my 70-200mm f/2.8. I can see this lens being great for portraits, landscapes, and indoor photography. 24mm is not all that wide on the digital cropped body, but it is better than what I had before so I am happy.

I still haven’t taken all that many photos with this lens, so I am not posting any samples yet. But I can tell you that my first impressions of this lens are, well, impressive! This may sound redundant and perhaps predictable, but I extremely happy with this purchase and I believe I will get a lot of use from this lens. The photos I have taken are crisp, sharp, and full of amazing color. My first impressions give this lens an A+ so far. Of course, seeing is believing so I hope to share a few photos from this amazing lens soon.