Sunday, September 25, 2016

I am looking for input from other amateur photographers!

I have a camera collection that I started a few years back and this is one of them. I bought it at a church rummage sale for $5.00. It is a 35 mm camera and it allegedly works, though I will not try to find out as I am content with the digital process. I like to show them however from time to time.

But, I have started off point. A wise philosopher once said, (actually it was me) "THAT AN EXPERT WAS AN ORDINARY PERSON AT LEAST 25 MILES AWAY FROM HOME" I share this quote because I want to get some other amateur photographers to share their stories and techniques. I am sure that you have a lot to offer and others would appreciate being able to benefit from your experience. In other words, I would really like you to contribute. You will get proper RECOGNITION for your work. Plus, if you don't feel that you can write well, no problem if you give me the facts, I will ghost write the article for you. The more people who do it, the more people will be reached. The way to do that is to realize that each of us have a circle of influence and it will exponentially add up. 

If you are interested you can email me or message me on Facebook. I have a public Facebook page and my email is I hope you like the photo above and I will add a couple more now.

Here is another of the collection

This is another oldie but goodie

Look over the blog posts that are already here and figure out what you would like to add to them. It will be fun, and it will help you get further exposure as a photographer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Basic Photography: Using Photomatix Essential to boost dynamic range in your images

If you want the best possible native dynamic range in your photos then you should buy a full sensor camera. If you don't have the money for the latest full frame then you may want to get a crop sensor camera and pay $39.00 US for Photomatix Essentials. I do my processing with Corel Paintshop Pro X 8, but often, I additionally use Photomatix Essentials. What I have found is that Photomatix Essentials helps me boost my dynamic range quite a bit without having the halos and other things that accompanies other HDR tone-mapping. The image on the left is taken along the Mississippi River late in the afternoon, close to the blue hour. I was able to boost the dynamic range with the fusion function in Photomatix Essentials. It enhances the details, brightens the image, and gives the appearance of HDR that is not over the top. I seldom use the HDR with tone-mapping presets. However, the fusion preset is perfect.

Here are a couple of screen shots that show the workings of Photomatix Essentials.  It works like most other HDR programs. You can select multiple bracketed images to merge into a HDR image. Many of them incorporate tone-mapping with the HDR, but there are a few presets on this program that use fusion. As I understand it fusion simply fuses together the best aspects of the image to make the dynamic range greater. It fuses the lighter of the shaded areas, and the darker of the highlighted areas to bring the dynamic range into something that more replicates what the eyes see. I have used the above image to show how I made the fused copy.

It is a relatively simple program to use. The Photomatix Essential program is pretty basic without a lot of bells and whistles. You can buy a professional program called Photomatix Pro. The essentials program is $39 & the pro program is $99. You can find these at I only use it to boost the dynamic range of my photos. I do not shoot bracketed images per se. I make the brackets with PSP X8. Furthermore, I do not even shoot RAW images. Oh I can see the eyebrows raising right now but it is the truth. I do not want to take the time to process RAW images so I shoot in jpeg. I think the results speak for themselves. I am sure that if you were to shoot RAW that you would get even better results than I get.

However, because I shoot jpeg, I have to do my brackets differently. The closer I make the bracketed photos to each other the less problem I have with noise. I don't make them anywhere near a stop apart. I make them closer to 1/3 stop difference and sometimes even less than that. I get the best results this way because it keeps the noise down. I like sharp photos and reducing noise tends to soften images. Photomatix has a function for lowering noise in the process. I use that function as it is not extreme. The only place I do not use this is with my portraits. I think that HDR of any kind makes the facial features too hard.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Basic Photography: Low light Photography

Many photographers still prefer film to digital photography. There is a considerable amount of nostalgia for film produced images. There is one area however where digital photography is well ahead of film, and as the months and years go on the gap is widening. The area where digital cameras are well ahead of film counterparts is in low light photography. There is a correlation between ASA (film speed) and ISO (digital image speed.) Whereas 800 ASA was extremely fast film, digital cameras of two iterations back had an ISO of 1600 to 3200 and now, most cameras go up to at least 12,800 ISO. While none of them perform that well at the highest ISO setting, most all current cameras function well at 3200 ISO, by that I mean, produce images with very little noise, and a lot of them do well at 6400 ISO. Sony has a full frame A7SII, that has a native ISO of over 104,000 ISO. What does all of this mean for low light photography? Well, if you have a fast prime lens, f/2.8 or faster, and a camera that performs well at 3200 ISO you can get very good hand-held low light shots. That was not possible even two or three years ago. The above image was with an f/2.8 lens at 3200 ISO. The lens is pretty sharp wide open so you get good results without a tripod.

There are essentially two ways to get good results in low light photography. One is with a fast prime
lens and a camera that functions well at a higher ISO like described above, and the other is the more traditional way, using a tripod, and using a very slow shutter speed. An example would be setting the camera at f/12, ISO 200, and a shutter speed of 5 seconds. That method will get the sharpest low light images. The image on the right was shot in that manner. If you click on the image to enlarge it you will see that the lights are starred. That is a characteristic of low light images shot manually with a narrower f/stop and a slow shutter speed. With that type of photography you have to use a tripod to keep it from blurring. Since I have an APS-C sensor I like to do a form of HDR fusion to get a greater dynamic range for my low light images. Those shooting full frame sensors have a natural dynamic range that is greater and can easily get by with one image. The secret I have discovered for doing HDR fusion with low light images is to make bracket images very close to each other, that is, less than 1/3 EV apart. The closer they are to each other in exposure brightness the less noise. I do not shoot three EV brackets. I create them with my Corel PSP X8 from one shot.

This image on the left was shot hand-held at dusk just before the sun disappeared in what is known as the blue hour. I used the same technique to create close together bracketed photos to make sure that the noise is negligible. The slightly higher dynamic range makes the photo pop and makes it easier to make it sharp. Even when it is a hand-held image shot at f/5.6 to f/7.1. When the closest object is further than 30 ft away then you get a pretty sharp image all the way to infinity. Low light images, at sunset or darker, evening city scapes and street scenes are much more interesting than images shot at high noon or mid day. The best times for interesting photos is early in the morning or late in the afternoon and evening.

One thing that you must do is experiment. You have to be willing to shoot some failures to find out how to be successful. The once nice thing about digital cameras is that you can see the results in the LCD view screen. This makes it possible to perfect what you are doing without returning to the dark room to find out what you accomplished. The other thing that I recommend is to check your exposure meter to be sure that you are at the correct exposure. When I shoot in regular daylight, I like to set my camera at -.70 EV, but not with low light shots. There I want to make sure that I am at .0+/- or if anything at +.30 EV or above. This makes the results much more appealing and avoids having images that are too dark to salvage. If you have a camera that will shoot fairly good images at 1600 ISO, and you have a fast prime, either f/2 or f/2.8, you will find that you can get some really good results hand-held... however, no matter what digital camera you have, you can use manual, a tripod and a slow shutter speed and get really good results.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Basic Photography: What about composition?

I was a painting and drawing instructor for many years. During that time I found that some people just have a natural sense of good composition. Good composition is simply arranging things so that they are pleasing to the eye and interesting to behold. However, there are some basic rules that help improve ones composition, but they also occasionally can be broken under the right circumstances. The image on the left incorporates many of the rules. First I would like to use it to define some terms. Within a photo, painting, or drawing one has to deal with space within the frame of a two dimensional surface. I would like to label these areas of space as positive or negative space. In the image left, the positive space is all the detail of the light and light pole. The negative space is the clear blue sky. You can also think of positive space being the subject. In this photo the subject is the light pole. The light pole creates a stark contrast from the sky. This is not always the case. Many times a plain mono-toned sky is boring and clouds create a dramatic effect, but in this particular image the mono-toned sky helps make the image. This image also provides balance as contrasted with symmetry. Don't get me wrong... there are times when symmetry can be effective, but usually balance is a better device to use. What do I mean exactly? In the image there is a balance of positive and negative space that makes the full frame of the image pleasing to look at. The last thing that I would like to mention about this image is the way in which the pole runs out of the image on the lower left. It is important to have things either run off the page of the image or to be clearly within the confines of the frame. Objects placed too close to the edge are usually distracting.

The image on the right has several aspects of good composition according to the rules of composition. First it is a great example of the rule of thirds.... top third sky, middle third, buildings, bottom third freeway. Just to be clear, thirds can also work horizontally as well as vertically. There is also the rule of diagonals at work in this one. The streets and railroad tracks go back vertically drawing the viewer into the scene. Another compositional piece is selecting the time of day. It is at the end of the golden hour and the beginning of the blue hour. There is enough subject in this one so that many spaces run off the page and some are contained. There is not a concept of negative and positive space so much in this one. However, the focus of the building in the lower left and the buildings running diagonally across the image also helps draw the eye into the entire scene.

The photo on the left is a good example of making the subject the focus of the frame and allowing the background to be muted becoming negative space that enhances the subject. The detail of the brick works to ground the people and the lack of symmetry adds interest. Both of the figures are allowed to run off the page at different places adding interest as well. It is important to have crisp sharp detail with the subject. This image was also taken at a time when the sun was overhead and the lighting is harsh. It adds to the overall brightness of the scene making it work as a candid moment captured in time and space. Another element that adds to the design is the curve of the arms of both grandma and grandson. This is a device that can be used often simply known as repetition. In critiquing the shot, I would say that it would be even more impacting if it were cropped square. While the negative space above the heads works ok, it would be a stronger composition if it were cropped to be a square frame.

Finally the image on the right shows additional aspects of good composition. The truck is placed on the left side of the frame to allow it room to run out of the scene. This helps carry your eye across the entire frame. There is a lot of contrast between the negative and positive spaces within the image. This is also and example of vertical thirds. Finally, I think that this shows a way in which breaking the rules works to add to the composition. The post and pier placed in the center of the frame add interest and make the image just a little off to the point of being interesting. The stark contrast between blue of the sky and the almost black tones under the bridge structure really add over-all interest to the image. I would suggest that you click on all of the images to see them in a larger format to be able to see the detail in each. Keep in mind that rules are made to be broken and you can break them all you want, however, you will only be happy with rule breaking when it works! Please comment and add your experience and perspective. We will cover this again I am quite sure.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Basic Photography: The confusing world of focal length simplified

There are many confusing concepts in photography but one of the most confusing is focal length. The definition of focal length is as follows: "The distance from the surface of a lens to the point of focus." That is easy enough but it depends on the size of the sensor or the film that is the focal point. It is in the size of the sensor or film that a source of confusion enters the conversation. The photo at the left shows a Pentax 35mm camera. I show this because 35mm film and sensors have become the standard for explaining crop factors. I always like to understand it in relationship to what the human eye sees. I can remember, back in the day with the Kodak Instamatic Cameras. I was a young adult in the late 1960's and early 1970's and the Instamatic film camera was a staple to be taken on vacations. When traveling in the mountains out west, and in Appalachia as well, I was always disappointed with any scenery photos that I took. The reason was that they never showed the depth and height of the mountains that I was looking at. I have since found out that the reason was that the focal length for those cameras was very wide angle compared with human vision.

Human vision is close to a 50mm focal length on a 35mm camera. That is likely the reason that most SLR's and other view finder 35mm cameras had a 50mm lens. These cameras most closely mimicked what human vision saw naturally. Therefore, the only camera that focal length is not a source of some confusion is the 35mm film camera and the full frame DSLR. Why am I mentioning this? Well, you need to be aware of crop factors.

As I have stated before in this blog. I own a couple Sony A3000 which are mirroless APS-C cameras which have a crop factor of 1.5. This means that I have to take the focal length of the lens and multiply it by 1.5 to get the equivalent of what a full frame camera would be like. Therefore, if I want to get close to a full frame 50mm lens view, which will mimic human vision, on my APS-C camera, I have to use a 30mm to a 35mm lens. I have a 30mm Sigma f/2.8 lens that actually mimics a 45mm lens on a full frame and it gets me pretty close to human vision. If I use a 35mm lens, i mimic 52.5mm on a full frame camera so both the 30mm and the 35mm will get me close to a 50mm image on a full frame camera. So if you want a view close to what you see with your eyes, and own a APS-C camera, then you will want to choose a 30mm - 35mm lens, or you will want to set a 18-55mm lens on approximately 32.5mm to get that view.

The one thing that you can count on is that point and shoot cameras show their focal lengths in 35mm equivalent terms. So, when they tell you that they have a zoom range from 24mm to 640mm, they are explaining that it 35mm equivalent terms. I hope that I have explained that the main thing to consider is how any focal length will compare with what you see with the naked eye.

Below are some images from my 30mm lens which comes close to human vision.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Basic Photography: Aperture Mode

Aperture mode is exactly what the doctor calls for in portrait photography. The reason is that one can get excellent bokeh with a wide aperture setting on a prime lens. This brings all the focus to the subject. If you are doing manual focus, you can make sure that the eyes are in sharp focus with other parts of the portrait being softer focus moving back to a smooth, delicious bokeh. Set your camera on A priority and make sure that the lens is set to its fastest setting. For example, if it is a f/2.8 set it there, if a f/2 set it there, and if it is a f/1.8 or f/1.4 set it there. You will end up with a professional looking photo that will make you proud.

Above is a photo that was taken with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens. It was on aperture priority setting the camera used a 1/3200 sec exposure with an ISO of 200. If you click on the image it will be enlarged so you can see the way it focuses sharply on the subject, grandma and grandson and blurs the background so that you are not distracted.

Using aperture priority mode when there is a lot of ambient light available works very well. That is the circumstance of the above portrait. With aperture priority mode, the closer you are to the subject and the farther back the background, the more blurred the background and the more bokeh that is present. Below is an example of being close to the subject with a completely blurred background.

This image again was shot with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens wide open.

Now then, if you move away from the closest subjects/objects with a fast lens wide open, you can get all of the background in fairly sharp focus. I use prime lenses wide open in night street photography and have a great amount of success with the results. My Sony A3000 has a native ISO up to 6400 and I find that the results are pretty acceptable all the way to ISO 3200. It is very good at ISO 1600. I have done a lot of hand-held street photography at night and my results are quite acceptable with very little noise.

Both of the above images were shot at night, hand-held with the aperture wide open. This type of photography will become easier to do with much better results as camera sensors continue to improve. Sony has a full frame mirrorless, an A7RII, that has a native ISO that goes over 100,000. It will make unbelievable hand-held low light photos without any noise.

As you can see, aperture priority has a variety of uses that enhance you ability to make photos that you are proud to showcase. I will leave you with additional examples of images shot in aperture priority. Click on all photos to see them enlarged in a slide show format that will allow you to click through them. Also, feel free to comment in the comment section.

Photography Basics: Moving from Auto Mode

All digital cameras, whether point and shoot, mirrorless, or DSLR have an auto function where the camera makes all the decisions for you. It meters the conditions and decides what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to use. This does not insure however that you get the best image or even the one you want. Equally true is that most all digital cameras, including very inexpensive point and shoot cameras have mode dials that allow you to take more control. Most all cameras, at the very least have the following mode settings: (M) manual, (A) aperture, (S) shutter speed, and (P) programmable. You will find that these more manual modes will give you creative control that you do not otherwise have. Additionally, most digital cameras, especially entry level, whether point and shoot, mirrorless, or DSLR have various scene modes that are set for specific types of photography, such as landscape, portrait, low light, etc.
 Some of these work quite well and some not so much. Quite frankly, when you are out shooting you should try several of these things with a particular point of view so that you can understand what is best for you. To the right is a typical camera mode dial. This one is Nikon I believe, but all are similar, however Canon cameras have Av & Tv in place of A & S.

I shoot a lot of landscapes/cityscapes so I like to use the (A) aperture priority for many of my shots. It allows me to set the aperture opening and ISO and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed. I also like to under-expose my images so I usually set it for either -.30 or -.70EV. However, I have a friend who shoots mostly street photography and he likes to use (S) shutter speed so that he can make sure he controls whether there is blurring with motion or not. If you are photographing anything moving such as bicycles or motor vehicles you will want to control the shutter speed value.

I also shoot a large number of night or low light images and that can often require (M) manual mode. In this case, you choose the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the exact results you want. A lot of night/low light photography requires the use of a tripod. The reason is that many times you want to slow the shutter speed down to having it open for several seconds and if you use a hand-held method you will blur your image beyond recognition. In this way, you can set the aperture to a higher f value that restricts the amount of light coming into the camera. Slow the shutter down to several seconds (4-30) depending on available light, and keep the ISO low (100-200). This gives very crisp images with the lights starred.

Here is an example:

You can see the starring on the lights in this one. If I remember, this is at f/14 with an ISO of 200 and a shutter speed of 8 seconds.

However, with the newer mirrorless, and DSLR cameras, that are capable of higher ISO you can take nice night shots hand held. You must use a prime lens that has a wider aperture and crank the ISO up to 1600 or 3200. This will make hand held shots that are acceptable with little noticeable noise. Your camera should be capable of at least 6400 native ISO and it is better if it is even higher like ISO 12800 and above. The key is having a lens with a fast aperture, at least f/2.8 - f/2 or f/1.8.

Below is an example of a hand-held night shot with a f/2.8 prime lens.

And here is another at even lower light conditions.

I will blog about the other dial settings in more detail in further posts.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Photography Basics: What about sensors?

I think sensor size is a conversation that I would have loved to have heard sooner than later. In the long run, it would have saved me some money. I would not have spent so much on a variety of point and shoot cameras, especially the super zoom bridge cameras that look like DSLR's. Why is sensor size so important? Well, the answer is quite simple and there are several reasons. First, the larger the sensor, the better the detail available. That should just simply make sense, right? Secondly, The larger the sensor the shallower depth of field available. This means that the larger sensor is capable of smoother bokeh in the background. Portraits that have a shallow depth of field (DOF) have those soft, smooth, out of focus backgrounds. Sensor size is not the only factor, aperture also plays a part but in order to get the kind of portraits you want, the bigger the sensor the better.

Here is a diagram showing the relative size of sensors. There are more sizes than this but let me say that this shows the glaring difference between the three most commonly owned cameras, namely, the full frame DSLR or Mirrorless, the APS-C DSLR or Mirrorless, and the point and shoot/bridge camera.

What I want to illustrate here for you is the big difference between the P&S camera's and the full frame or APS-C cameras. However, another thing that you must understand is that the bigger the sensor the more expensive it is to make, and the more expensive it is to make, naturally, the more expensive it is to buy. Therefore, you have to understand the trade-offs you get with the various size sensors. The full frame gives the best photo quality and the greatest dynamic range, however to purchase a full frame camera you will find yourself paying from $1,200.00 US to $4,000.00 US just for the camera without the lenses. The least expensive full frame with lens runs around $1.800.00 US. Yes, full frame cameras are expensive and require deep pockets.

This is why as a developing amateur, I recommend the ASP-C size sensor. Now professional photographers don't get up in arms! I will readily admit that if one is planning on earning a living shooting photos he or she should have a full frame camera. I know that a lot of pro's have an APS-C camera as an emergency back up, but the pro will do better with a full frame. However, there are some really great images made with APS-C sensor cameras and that is exclusively what I shoot. What you get with an APS-C sensor is detail in the foreground, middle, and background. Also, when it comes to shooting portraits, you get super great detail up front. There is greater detail in the eyes, skin, lips, hair etc.

It infuriates me to see someone who has deep enough pockets purchase a full frame camera, but not enough skill to make their photos look any better than a P&S camera. I am on a lot of Facebook groups and believe me, I see photos every day that are shot with expensive full frame cameras that are barely in focus, dull and look like they were shot with the smallest of sensors. Maybe I am just jealous but it still makes me angry :).

Now then, small sensors do have their place. They make it possible to zoom to great distances with a fairly small camera and relatively short lens. An example of this camera is the one bridge camera that I have kept around. It is the Canon SX40 HS. If you look at the photo of my Sony A3000 at the top of this post you will see that it has a very long lens. Further, it's maximum zoom is  215mm (larger with the crop factor but that is another blog article). The Canon pictured to the left has a zoom capability of 840mm. Yes, you read me right, 820mm zoom. It allows some spectacular moon shots with a very small sensor. It has a fixed zoom lens but it allows a range of 24mm to 840mm (in 35mm equivalent terms). Here is a moon shot I took with it.

This was on a tripod, 100 ISO, f/8

This is just scratching the surface of the importance of sensor size but will be sufficient for today. Hopefully I have given you food for thought and you will not waste as much money on P&S cameras as I did. One thing is certain. You can get a lot of really nice images with an APS-C sensor on either a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Photography Basics: Equipping Yourself Part III

We have established the fact that it is probably best for you to invest in an APS-C sensor camera in the beginning. If you are very well off, and you are quite certain you want to do photography regularly, then it may make sense for you to buy a full frame camera. Just be prepared to spend two to three times the amount with both the bodies and lenses.

Next, think carefully about what kind of photography you want to do. By that I mean, do you want to do mostly landscape or portraits? The reason I ask this question for you to consider is that it will make a difference in lens choice. I like variety so I do both, and at times, I combine them. When I think of landscape I also include architectural structures and can mean cityscapes as well. Another common combination of landscape and portrait is street photography. Street photography often incorporates both.

You will find, that in the beginning, the kit lens will be sufficient for all your shooting. Kit lenses usually range in focal length from 18mm to 50 or 55mm. An 18mm focal length is a wide angle and 55mm zooms out to cut down the angle width quite a bit. For most shooting the 18-55mm lens will be sufficient. If you want to shoot at the zoo however, you will likely need a lens with a reach of 55-200mm or 70-300mm. This will allow you to zoom up close when or where you can not walk closer.

The above photo shows my Sony A3000 with a 55-210mm zoom lens on it. This is the lens I use to shoot at the zoo and it is also good for portraits.

Above is a photo I took at the Memphis Zoo.

One of the reasons that I show this image is that many of the starting camera kits have two lenses. In the case of Sony A3000 it was an 18-55mm and the 55-210mm. I have both of those lenses but use them rarely now. The reason is that I have three prime lenses that I use most of the time. A 19mm Sigma for wide angle shots, a 30mm Sigma for most of my landscapes and street shots, and as 60mm for portraits.

The truth is that most all of the shots one wants to take can be accomplished with the most popular two kit lenses. This will work well for you in the beginning but no doubt if you stick to photography for a while you will want to get some prime lenses. I would suggest that you read the first two blog posts in conjunction with this if you have not.

Below I am going to post some of the variety of shots that I do.

Here is a portrait of Vallonda, shot with the Sigma 60mm 2.8 lens

This is a street shot of a down town park in atlanta

This is a covered bridge in Stone Mountain Georgia

In the first three posts I have given you some food for thought in getting your photography equipment. What ever you choose, whether new, used, or expensive full frame gear keep looking for this blog to develop. I will share the techniques and skills that I have gained along the way. This is merely a five year journey so far. I have learned a lot, and quite frankly, I am learning more every day.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Photography Basics: Equipping yourself Part II

I really wished that there had been a blog like this when I started out. It could have saved me steps and money. I looked at point and shoots and saw that they were very automatic, and that appealed to me. What I did not understand was that the entry level DSLR's and mirror-less ASP-C and Micro Four Third cameras were also very automatic. They all have auto settings and various specific scene settings. Had I known that, I would have saved a bundle of money that I spent on P&S cameras, and would not have thousands of photos that were inferior simply because of the small size of the P&S sensors. With sensors, size is important, and there is no comparison between the size of your average P&S camera, and DSLR's and mirror-less cameras. There are some P&S cameras that have larger sensors but they are very expensive and you are limited with lens choice. So that simply means that your first camera should either be a DSLR or a mirror-less. If down the road, you want one of the larger sensor P&S cameras to take with you on trips and special occasions then, at that time, perhaps it can make sense.

At this point in time, I am advocating that you purchase a camera that is about two upgrades behind. Let me explain with this example. Nikon now has a D5500 that sells for about $899.00 U.S. You can still find deals where there are new D5200's, or factory refurbished, or used with a five star rating, that sell for $319.00 (camera only.) The D5500, D5300, and D5200 all have a 24.1 MP sensor that is similar if not exactly the same. In other-words, the D5200 camera will do all you want it too, at a much lower initial cost.

Or, you can do what I did finally. You can buy a Sony A3000, entry level with a 20.1MP sensor that takes great images. It looks like a DSLR but is mirror-less. It does have a Sony ASP-C sensor that takes really great images. It also has a lot of really nice features but the view-finder and LCD screen is lower resolution quality than most, but I actually do not mind that, or let me say that I have gotten used to it so that it does not bother me. The images are very, very good however. I think they compare favorably to the Nikon DSLR's or Sony's A6000 which is in the six to seven hundred dollar range. I paid $249.00 on Amazon for my first A3000 and that included an 18-55mm kit-lens. They are a little more than that now but still under $400 if you look for a sale. I got a second one, camera only for about $189 used. It only had about 9,000 actuation's which is nothing, and it looked new. Here is an example of the photo's it takes in this paragraph. You can enlarge it by clicking on the image.

What I am suggesting is that you put some thought into the situation before you invest. If you are headed to your local Best Buy or some other electronics or camera store, do not allow the sales people to sell you an expensive outfit at the onset. Make sure that you have the passion and you are learning the skills necessary to make great photos. I will cover a lot more in subsequent posts but I suggest that you read these articles from the beginning and keep up with them to gain further understanding.

You can see my work at Memphis Mid-South Sights and my Facebook photography page.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Where to begin, Photography Basics; Equipping Yourself Part I

Well, it is always an adventure for me to launch a new blog. This one will allow me to share my experience and journey from being an occasional point and shoot photographer to a developing amateur photographer who has made a lot of mistakes along the way, but has learned a lot because of it. If you are just starting out in photography then perhaps, this will be just what you need. Feel free to advance beyond where I am, but allow me to share my experience and benefit from it.

Right now you are asking yourself, where do I start? What kind of equipment do I need? How can I learn to master the skills necessary to do photography? I would give this answer first. Do you love to take photos? Are you always trying to capture scenes and moments with your smart phone? Have you always wanted to take photos with the urge to learn more about photography? If your answer is yes to these questions then you are ready to take the plunge. If not, then you really should just stick with your phone or an inexpensive point and shoot digital camera. I don't want you to think that you are going to have spend thousands of dollars on equipment. You will not, but you will have to spend some money and you can build your gear over time.

I will be able to show you how get good gear at a very reasonable price. You can slowly build it up over time and you can spend as much or as little as you want. I just want you to know that you can begin making very nice images for under $500 U.S. You can do this by purchasing used or entry level gear.

I began with point and shoot cameras, and frankly, I stayed with them too long, spent the price of a great camera and lens kit in slowly upgrading with point and shoot bridge cameras. If I had it to do over and knew what I know now, I would not have spent all that money on P&S Bridge cameras. It was a waste for two reasons. First, I spent money that could have used to build my gear quicker and secondly, I took hundreds, if not thousands of photos, that no longer meet the standard of excellence that I demand for myself today. Hopefully, if you follow this blog and you are just beginning you can benefit from my mistakes and make a smoother transition from rank amateur to enthusiast.

Just to let you know that you are not wasting your time, I will share a couple of shots I have made to show that progress is very possible, and that with trial and error as well as watching some You Tube videos you can make a lot of progress.

You can enlarge these images by clicking on them, and then you can scroll through all the images in this post.

The three photos I have selected were all done with fairly inexpensive gear. The two camera's you see above were purchased for less than $400 each for the camera body and lens. The lenses are prime lenses, and we will share more about that in subsequent blog posts, but I am really doing photography on a shoe-string budget. I am semi retired and do not have the kind of resources to spend an unlimited amount for my gear. One thing I can promise you is that you will be getting results like this in no time at all. You will have to spend some time with a learning curve and you will have to apply what you learn but it will be really quite easy.

I will advise you about what kind of gear to buy and where to get it. I would strongly recommend buying used equipment in the beginning and I can also help you select it wisely. A real good source is eBay and Amazon. There are others as well. The thing that I can help you with the most is determining what is a good buy and what is not. I will try to do several posts per week for a while until you get to the point where you are comfortable.