December 8, 2013

Merry Christmas to all.......

Another year slowly coming to an end. I hope it was a good one for all of you. I just might have another post before New Years because I'm treating myself to a couple days in NYC and hopefully I'll get a "few keepers".  This will be my second trip into to New York at Christmas time and I'm hoping to visit some of the sites I missed on my first trip like the WTC memorial, Top of the Rock and Central Park. I'll be on a pretty tight time schedule but hopefully with some decent planning, I can visit all these places while I'm in town. Who knows, maybe we'll get a little dusting of snow while I'm there? I'm going in with a friend from my camera club on an early train leaving out of Providence, RI.  I've never taken a train any real distance so I'm looking forward to the train ride also. My friend did a little homework herself and found us a couple of affordable rooms in a nice hotel only a block or so away from Penn station, right in mid-town Manhattan. Nice huh?

This Christmas tree photo was taken two years ago on my first trip to the Big Apple around Christmas and it has special meaning to me personally. It was my first time going into NYC during the holidays and it proved to be a very enjoyable trip.  I've mentioned a few times on my blog that I belong to a pretty good sized camera club and a small group of us (7 of us) took an early morning bus into New York city back in December 2011. We only had about 8 or 9 hrs in the city total and we wanted to check out some of the popular tourist sites. Luckily for us, the ones we were checking out were all within walking distance of the bus station. We had to hustle to take them all in, but we got a chance to check out attractions like the Skating Rink, Times Square, Grand Central Station and Bryant Park. Bryant Park is right next door to the New York public library and only a few blocks from Grand Central Station. I had seen photos of it before and I knew it was known for having a beautiful tree and a nice display at Christmas time. 

I got a chance to see the park early in the day with my friends and I knew immediately when I first saw it that I was going to try to go back around dusk and shoot the tree again.  (pictured above). So when my friends ventured back to a pub closer to the bus station, I hustled over to Rockefeller Center and shot some more photos of the Christmas Tree and the Rink then rushed over to Bryant Park and got the shot above.  

I know that we all had a great time on that trip and that this photo will continue to be one of those shots that holds many fond memories for me. I hope you like it too

Remember, keep shooting and have some fun!

November 10, 2013

Last minute Photoshop / Lightroom deal..........$9.99 !

A few days ago Adobe announced their own special Black Friday Deal that some of you might want to take advantage of. Get this, for a very short time they're offering everyone a chance to get in on the photographer’s $9.99 a month Photoshop / Lightroom bundle deal. It was originally only for folks who owned some previous version of Photoshop (from CS3 on up) and was available only until the end of the year, but now everybody can get in on the deal for the next few days (only until Dec 2, 2013) even if you don't own any version of either product!
I know a lot of people have their own opinions on this offer, but for me, it's a no-brainer. I already own the newest version of PS but I'm still running Lightroom 3, so instead of upgrading that for $80, I can upgrade both instantly for the $9.99 offer and always have the newest version of both without waiting for the next version to be released.  For those of you that are still using Elements or an earlier version of PS or LR, you can get both Photoshop and Lightroom for only $9.99 / month. That's only 33¢ a day for the newest updated version of both products.

This is a limited time offer so don't miss out on this offer.  It's  Dec. 2nd for non-users and until Dec. 31st for previous users. Don't miss out on this offer!

October 8, 2013

Tamron 28-300mm VC lens

For the last four or five years my go-to camera has been a full-frame Canon. I was shooting for a few years with the original 5D and just recently, I upgraded that camera to the Canon 5D Mark II.   Now both of these are awesome cameras but what I really needed was a good walk-around lens. I wanted a lens that I could just leave on my camera all day that would cover just about any situation so that I wouldn’t be constantly switching lenses to get “the shot”.  Sometimes it’s either dark or dusty or just too wet to change lenses or even if you do switch lenses, half the time you miss the shot anyhow.  Does this sound familiar?

The original photo with the red arrow was shot at ƒ7.1 - 28mm at 200 ISO and the second shot was zoomed all the way out to 300mm. This will work for me, how about you?

If you’re like me, whenever I’m planning on getting some new gear, I go online and start doing my homework. I read all the reviews and write-ups to get the pros and cons before I buy anything. What helped me finally make a decision was a review by a photographer that I really admire, David Ziser.  David is a world class wedding photographer and has been speaking and teaching at seminars for years. Plus he’s a Canon shooter himself, so when he said he was using one of these lenses to shoot an entire wedding I took notice. I had read probably a dozen write-ups on this lens, but when I read his blog post on this lens I was sold.  I’ve shot quite a few weddings myself so I know what it requires to shoot a wedding and I was already a big fan of his photography. On a full frame body the Tamron 28-300mm but on a crop body (like my 40D) it’s a 43-465mm!  Pretty nice huh?

The original shot of the warehouse was taken at ƒ6.3-55mm at ISO 160, the zoomed version was just cropped in Photoshop at 68%.  Nice huh?

This figurine was shot handheld at ƒ6.3-300mm - 1/100 at ISO 640. You’ll notice the shadows from a little fill flash, but keep in mind this is almost straight out of the camera hand-held.  Now I'm used to shooting with Canon’s “L” glass and I knew I was going to have to make some compromises. Canon also makes a 28-300mm lens, but their lens weighs over 3½ lbs compared to the Tamron which weighs in at a little over a pound. Plus, all of my camera bodies have a battery grip so weight was another factor. As far as the focal range, the Canon lens was ƒ 3.5 – ƒ 5.6 and the Tamron was ƒ 3.5 – ƒ 6.3, which meant I only lost a third of a stop with this lens.


Another big factor was that the Tamron was advertised as a Macro lens and said it could focus from only 1½ feet away. I don’t know about you but that’s a big feature for me. I just had to test that out for myself. Check out the photo of the watch. I grabbed a tape measure, and get this, the end of the lens was 9 inches away ( I focused on the gem at 12 o’clock). The background I used was an insert from the Sunday paper from a local grocery store and that was only 10 inches behind the watch!  So this lens focused from only 9 inches away and totally blew out the background only 10 inches away from it at ƒ6.3.

Lastly, I was very impressed with Tamrons VC (vibration control). I was used to shooting with Canons IS (image stabilization) and I absolutely needed this feature especially with these focal lengths. In his blog post, David shows images shot at 1/10 of a second at 160mm. Most cameras these days can shoot quality photos at very high ISO’s and with my Mk II I knew I could shoot all day at 2500 or better but sometimes you need to drag the shutter so after seeing his images, I knew the VC on this lens would work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my trusty “L” glass, but I’m not locked into that option these days. These days, my Tamron 28-300mm VC is on my camera 75% of the time when I out shooting for myself. Check out some of the photos taken with this lens online and I think you’ll be impressed.

Like all this wasn’t enough, the price was the final clincher. The Canon lens sold for $2500 bucks and the Tamron 28-300mm Di VC  lens was only $630 when I originally wrote this post, but the price did go up to $849 with a bunch of improvements! So, when David Ziser said this was his new go-to lens, it was a no brainer for me.  Sure the Tamron could be a little softer at certain focal lengths, but I knew I’d have no problem doing a little extra sharpening in post to save $1900 bucks and almost 3 lbs of weight. A lot of the reviews mentioned the Tamron had some chromatic aberration when zoomed all the way out to 300mm, but I use Adobe Camera RAW and fixing that was as easy two mouse clicks away. In the Lens Corrections panel in CS6, just click the middle tab marked color and then click Remove Chromatic Distortion, how easy is that?

If you’ve been searching for a good all-purpose lens for your Nikon or Canon camera that won’t break the bank, maybe you should put the Tamron 28-300mm Di VC macro lens on your Christmas list this year!

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

September 12, 2013

How to make the most out of a shoot

Have you ever made plans to go to a particular place for an event or some special occasion that got you all revved up, but on the day of the event, nothing seemed to turn out the way you planned? This post is about one of those times when things didn’t go as planned and how to make the most out it.
Back on June 23rd, we were supposed to have the “Super Moon” event. The Super Moon was when the moon was on its closest rotation to the earth in 2013 and was supposed to be huge. This sounded like a great opportunity for a shoot and a chance to get out with some fellow photographers and have some fun. The night before, I went out on a practice shoot with my friend Avis to shoot some moon test shots. She had just purchased a new camera and as luck would have it, I owned the same camera and was able to help her get familiar with some of the features on her new toy. That evening we drove to a couple places trying to find a good shooting location but the night was overcast and we really couldn’t get any decent shots.

The next evening, the actual night of the Super Moon, some of the people in my camera club suggested taking a road trip and it was a toss-up; we could either head north and shoot the Boston skyline or go south and take some lighthouse photos at Point Judith lighthouse in Narrangansett, RI. One half of the group decided to go into Boston and fortunately for them, the weather and skies stayed clear and they were able to get some decent shots. Personally, I love lighthouses so it was a no-brainer for me and I decided to go with the group heading south to Point Judith light. Unfortunately, about 20 miles into our trip the weather had other plans for us as we watched the clouds and overcast skies roll in. By the time we actually reached the lighthouse, we knew we wouldn’t get any shots of the Super-Moon because of the overcast skies. About half the people we came with decided to just pack it up and leave while the rest of us hung out and explored the area a little. There were already a lot of other photographers there that had the same idea as us and other people fishing and just enjoying the location. If you’ve ever been to Pt.Judith you know that there is a long rock jetty that people like to fish off of and I thought to myself that with the overcast skies we’ll at least get some decent light, sort of like a huge softbox right? 

Now I enjoy shooting people so I grabbed my favorite people lens, a Canon 70-200 ƒ2.8 IS and took a hike out on the jetty with my friend Ewa, a lady who was fairly new to our photo club and who was also a Canon shooter herself. I enjoy taking photos of people taking photos. While she was grabbing shots of this and that, I hung back and took shots of her and then I took a bunch of shots of the locals doing their thing.

A lot of times I’ll see someone I'd like to photograph and I'll give them one of my business cards and ask them if I could take their photo. I always offer to send them a shot or two and most people are cool with that. Sometimes people  will even pose for you which makes it even better. The light was beautiful this day and I was able to get some great people shots. We then walked back towards the parking area and grabbed a few shots along the way. By this time the remaining people in my group were getting ready to leave themselves. Right next to the parking area there is an elevated clearing that gives a nice view of the lighthouse with a nice lawn and some benches and I asked the driver if I could run up there and grab a few shots. When I got up there I saw a couple on a bench and clicked off a few shots and then I saw a young woman (Ann) taking shots of her friend doing aerobics on the grass, so I grabbed some shots of her taking photos. 

I saw an opportunity to take some some shots of Ann taking photos on the grass with the lighthouse and mist in the background. The trick to shooting lighthouses is to try to catch the light aiming at you. I have no problems with lying on the ground or climbing a tree to get a different perspective, so I laid down on the grass and clicked off some shots. They didn’t even notice me, but after a few minutes of shooting, I went over to them and introduced myself and gave them both one of my cards and showed them my shots I had taken of them. They both got excited about my shots and I offered to send them some if they emailed me. I then asked if I could take a few more and they both happily posed for me.

I mentioned to Ann that I might do a blog post on this outing and asked if I could use a photo or two of them. They both agreed and asked me to send them a link when I posted it. I knew I got a few shots that I’d be happy with and headed back to the car smiling.

The moral to this story is, sometimes you just have to make the most of the situation and grab whatever shots you can. You know the old saying; when Mother Nature hands you lemons, make lemonade right? All in all, I got some shots I was happy with that day and had some fun hanging out with my friends and shooting.

Keep this in mind next time you get lemons. Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

August 7, 2013

Attending the annual NECCC Photo Conference 2013

Well as promised I put together a post on this year’s New England Camera Club Conference. This is an event that I look forward to each summer. The conference is an annual three-day photography event held each July at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. NECCC is one of the largest in the United States and has over 1000 photographers from the U.S. and other countries that attend the conference every year. Attendees range from beginner to professional photographers. The conference was established many years ago and remains one of the largest events of its kind in the country.

This year was a little different than most years because they usually have special photographic events each year such as skydivers, antique cars, hot air balloons or similar photo events.  For 2013 they didn’t really have anything special set up due to some major construction on campus, but they still had the usual photo opportunities like live models and costumed actors, studio setups of still life objects and small animals to take photos of also.  

But as always, the best part of the conference is the classes and lectures. Every year you can attend classes or attend special lectures by some of the industry’s top-guns, big name photographers and teachers like Joe McNally and Rick Sammon, covering just about every topic you could be interested in. The NECCC also offers pre-conference workshops on subjects like improving your workflow with Lightroom, using Photoshop Elements, Macro Photography and even how to set up a Low Cost Home Studio.

These workshops are an additional cost over and above the price of the conference admission but usually there is something there for everyone.  The conference also has a special vendor section where all the major companies like Canon and Nikon have display booths where they offer loaner equipment to test out lenses and bodies before you make a purchase. They also have other manufacturers set-up and you can purchase just about anything you need (or want) right there. 

I belong to a pretty good sized Photo Club in my area and we usually have at least 25 or 30 members in attendance. Most of us rent dorm rooms on campus and camp out for the weekend. Like I mentioned, I personally look forward to the conference every year. It’s a great time to hang out with other photographers and talk shop all weekend. It’s like a mini Photoshop World and if your into photography, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn in a weekend.  I’m already planning next year’s conference and I hope to see you there!   

Remember as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography