We had a short class tonight with a few projects and a lot of discussion among the students. Some of my photos came out better than others and I spent a lot of time taking quite a few similar shots of the same item set up at different levels and at different angles. The center photo below is a photograph of clear plastic tableware sitting on a white background and taken with a polarizing filter. The filter actually turns the white background black and brings out the separated lights caused by the stress put in the plastic during the molding process.
As part of my Creative Photography course I was able to get into a Photography Studio and photograph for a couple of hours last week. Having used a speed light only on very rare occasions and having never been in a studio before, it was all a little bit bewildering. I think if anything I realized how little I knew about studio photography or how to properly shoot with a speed light. One of the nice things about taking a course like this and getting out of my comfort zone is finding out how much I don’t know. It forces me to get out the manuals and find out what all this equipment can really do.
In the end I don’t know how much studio work I will ever want to do but I’d like to have the equipment to be able to at least do some studio work sometime. I’d like to be able to take really nice portrait photos of friends and family. In order to do that I ordered some studio type stuff that can be used anywhere to include outdoors if needed. I ordered a Manfrotto 1004BAC Master Stand (Black), a Manfrotto 026 Swivel Lite-Tite Umbrella Adapter, a Stroboframe Accessory Shoe, a Photoflex 45 inch Convertible Umbrella, and a CowboyStudio 43 inch 5-in-1 Circular Collapsible Multi-Disc Reflector. I think that equipment will enable me to create a beginner’s studio and help me expand my knowledge of photography. Wish me luck!
I went on a shoot at a local ranch to capture photos of emus. The only one that befriended me was the one below. He was a friendly emu and liked my camera. He may have thought that me and my camera were food. No one says emus are the smartest birds on the planet!
Anyone really serious about photography eventually gets around to buying a tripod. Sure, you can take photographs without one, but if you move even the slightest amount your image is going to be blurred. And who wants that? The whole point of paying all that money for photo equipment is to get a clear sharp photo and sometimes a tripod is the only way to do that. As your skills in photography increase and you begin to take photographs with longer exposures or longer focal lengths, a tripod becomes all that more important.
I've had a couple of cheap tripods over the years but when I got my Nikon D7100 I wanted something stronger and steadier. I didn't want one of those all-in-one tripods that discount retailers sell. I wanted a serious tripod, but I wanted to buy one without taking out a loan. After extensive research I came across the Vanguard Brand of tripods and heads.
Most tripods are made of either aluminum or carbon fiber and come in a three-section and four-section leg extensions. Carbon fiber is significantly lighter and more expensive than aluminum so if you think you're going to carry it long distances you might want to consider carbon fiber. If you want to save money, get aluminum. The three-section and four-section leg extension versions have different degrees of sturdiness and compactness. Four-section extensions allow tripods to be reduced to a size to less than 24 inches in length which is the general requirement for carry-on luggage on a plane. The three-section version is sturdier simply because every extension point can introduce wobble. For the most part these are the primary considerations in buying a tripod. One final consideration if you are very tall may be the height of the tripod. For tall individuals you may need to find one tall enough that you're not bending over all day looking thru the lens.
Tripod heads are another matter. There are all shapes and sizes and some work better for those photographers that take still photos and others that are preferred by those taking movies. I settled on a ballhead. It's preferred by most still photographers and that's what I intend to use it for the most. Various tripods and heads of virtually all manufacturers are interchangeable so many photographers have tripods and heads that are from different manufacturers. It's really just a personal preference. The primary requirement of the head is the ability of the head to support at least the weight of your equipment.
I ended up getting the Vanguard 263AT with the Vanguard BBH-200 Ballhead. This is an outstanding combination. The tripod is aluminum and has legs with three-extensions and the ballhead is the middle of the line of Vanguard BBH Ballheads. It's a wonderful combination and I couldn't be more pleased. You can find out more information from this company at their website, vanguardworld.com. Below are two videos demonstrating this tripod and bullhead.
Here's both a written as well as a video review of my camera, the Nikon D7100. I waited a long time for Nikon to finally get all the features I was interested in packaged inside one very nice DSLR. For serious amateurs who don't want to pay those hefty prices for an FX camera, I don't think you can find a better camera on the market today. I can't imagine Nikon making a nicer or better DX camera at any price. However, I'm sure they will one day but until then I think this is the best camera on the market.
A nice written review by Ken Rockwell can be found at this location. Or you can see a video review below.
Life seems simple. Buy a camera and then go out and start taking photos. Soon you've bought another lens, filters, a flash, a tripod, another lens, etc. You've also got batteries, SD cards, cords, chargers, etc. Before long you've got a lot of "stuff" and you realize you need a camera bag. For me that meant getting a backpack. After careful research I decided to get the Case Logic SLR Camera and Laptop Backpack SLR-206. I'm not recommending this for anyone else but it's exactly what I needed. I wish it held more because I have to make choices when I fill it up for a shoot but if it was any bigger I probably wouldn't like it. It just seems about perfect for my needs. Please see the video below.
This evening I attended my first class on Creative Photography. The purpose of this class was not to make me into a professional photographer but rather to give me ideas that are creative in nature. In essence to think outside the box. Photography is simply the manipulation of light and then the recording of it. A process that is so simple, yet so difficult.
Tonight we worked with light. Initially we were inside where we photographed a wine glass on a black background in the dark and then added a moving flashlight. It was fun and informative. The resulting photos can be seen in the slide show immediately below.
During the second half of the class we went outside near the duck pond on the campus of Central Texas College to take photos at night. We were told to photograph using whatever ambient light we could find and however we could manipulate our cameras. It was a fun assignment. The resulting photos can be seen in the slide show immediately below.
I am an amateur photographer and I have been actively taking photographs most of my life. My primary camera is the Nikon D7100 with an 18-135 mm lens attached, but I'm also known to use other lenses as well as the camera on my iPhone 5.