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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Samples of My Photos - click on them for larger view

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My Transition to Digital Pro

I've been doing this a long time. Photography, that is. Both as a job and as a personal art form.

The transition from being a film professional and hobbyist to doing all the same things in digital has taken me some time. Part of the reason is the sheer cost of some of the equipment. When shooting film was the norm, I could buy and sell used equipment at the drop of a hat. Being trained in camera and lens repair also helped, since I could basically buy low, fix and use, then sell high.

High end digital equipment, on the other hand,  is expensive, period. But, by being patient and frugal, I was able to piece together a set up that equals or surpasses almost everything I did in film.

Not a single brand new item in this rig. Used, demos, refurbished... saved me a lot of money. And yet, I get to shoot with heavy duty, super high resolution, and extremely versatile equipment. About the only thing that still doesn't match up is the large format view camera movements and the extreme depth of tonality in those films, but even at that, I can get pretty close with some of the newer image manipulation software programs.

Even the motion picture work I did (on film and video), training videos, local TV commercials, and an independent feature length film, I could now do on these same cameras.

In one bag, I can transport a rig covering fisheye and ultra wide angle to super telephoto and including macro and portrait. And it all doubles as a motion picture outfit. Of course, I still need other bags for the tripods, lights, reflectors, panoramic mounts, etc...

I still love film. And film is still needed for certain applications. But the high quality and versatility of digital has remade professional photography in this modern space age. I, for one, am loving it!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Panoramic Rig

Setting up a new rig for my panoramic photography

I've been using a budget rig and adapting my procedures to make it all work out. Since I've been consistently getting the highest ratings from my contracted client, my procedures have obviously worked.

But, I want to be available for the higher end jobs for my client, so I updated my equipment. 

Still, I didn't want to break the bank, so I even upgraded on a budget!

You can do that. Buy used. Used, refurbished, demos, all are good sources of quality equipment at bargain prices. 

You have to find places you can trust, tho. I picked up an 8 year old camera with almost no use at all for about 1/8th of its price when brand new. Sure, there is a new upgraded version of the camera in the brand's current line up, but did I want to pay almost $1800 more for that brand new camera? Or, could I use the high end features and quality of the used high end camera? I chose used.

The fisheye lens, too. I saved $500 by scouring the internet for a usable version. 

So far, I saved $2300.

The tripod set up I use is over 30 years old. Yep, I bought it in 1981. The same model is still for sale. Around $350. I can't recall how much I paid back when, so let's just call this a little more than 1/2 off, or $150 or so.

The one brand new item was my panoramic mount. There are several on the market, from $200 to $950. The most common brand/model is about $300. I found thru a multitude of reviews that the $200 brand is exactly the same, just not well known. So, a no brainer for Mr Budget. Another $100 saved. 

Even from discount sources, all brand new and current equipment would have been about $2500 or so more than what I have invested. For a rig that has no substantial difference in quality or use for my specific job needs. 

Want to know what I got?

(This was me calibrating the rig) 

I'm using a Nikon D300, Sigma 8mm f/4.0, Panosaurus 2.0 nodal point mount,  Bogen (now Manfrotto) 3021 legs plus 3028 head.

New models would be D500 (D7200 would work but is missing a few vital features), Sigma 8mm f/3.5, Nodal Ninja MkII, and Manfrotto tripod.

Friday, April 15, 2016

New Travel Photos - Calvin, OK

Here are some images from our latest photo trip.

An old bridge, 100 years old in fact, and some wildflowers growing nearby.

Rendered in color, black & white, and B&W infrared.

We'll be back here in the Fall to get some new Autumn Color pics.

Available for sale on my gallery linked in the header.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What's Your Personal Camera History?

It's the photographer that makes the image. That's an axiom. A good photographer can make wonderful images with whatever equipment they have access to. And... a fantastic, state-of-the-art, super duper, expensive camera can produce lackluster results if not used properly.

With THAT out of the way...

I love photography. All types. I've applied myself over several decades to refine my art and craft. And I really REALLY like some of the cool machines I've owned or used. So, here is a brief history of my cameras thru out the ages:

To begin with, I first remember at about age 6 using a folding Polaroid and peel apart film. That goo we spread on the B&W prints was really smelly. And we saved the negatives to order prints from (or print yourself).

Dad also let me use as my own cameras his Baby Rollei (using 127 film for 4x4 negs) and a 35mm rangefinder Kodak Pony.

We photographed a lot of stuff in the 60s and 70s. I learned from my Dad and from magazines how to manipulate what I had on hand to get the final result I wanted. No surprise that I took a couple of years of photo classes in high school. Actually, I primarily did that to gain access to their darkroom! I ended up with an arrangement where I took care of the maintenance and resupplied anything I used personally. 

Finally got my own darkroom at age 17 when I won my bid to do the corporate portraits for the engineering firm my Dad worked at. The profit from that job paid for the entire darkroom and more.

So, I was a professional photographer in the  real sense. People paid me for photographs I took. Besides the portraits, I did job site photos of construction projects and finished plants and buildings. Did you know that some of the best views of a petro-chem refinery can be found at 2:00am from one hundred feet in the air?

Obviously, I was using higher caliber equipment by this time. I purchased cameras and lenses used and new as I needed them. One of my first 'real' cameras was a Nikkormat FT, later upgrading to the Nikon FM. I was working part time at a camera retail store in my late teens and early 20s. Discounts were not to be had on the extremely slim margins photographic retail operated on for bodies and lenses, but I had 1st choice of virtually any trade in that came thru the doors. Plus, I could borrow store/dealer/rep demo cameras that would later be sold at huge discounts. Which is how I fell in love with the Nikon F2AS and Hasselblad 500C/M outfits.

I settled for owning the Nikon FM with a variety of lenses (including the legendary 105mm f/2.5), a Leica M3 with several lenses (50mm Dual Range was a fave), and the early Mamiya 645 system for weddings.

I kept those for a long time, but I did add to and sometimes replaced with other systems for various reasons. Like, for size, I opted in to the Olympus OM system with the OM-1 and OM-2SP. Also, for certain specialty lenses such as the 250mm f/5.6 mirror lens (great for astrophotography) on a Minolta XD-11.

For the one season I shot high school and junior college football playoffs, I used the built for sports photography Canon F1 system. Their lightweight telephotos and the F1's Speed Finder were great for that use.

I was offered the opportunity by the camera store I worked for to do some of their commercial print ads and even some training videos and local TV commercials. I used my own Leica Visoflex and 65mm Elmar along with the store's Pentax 67, Mamiya RB67, and an old monorail 4x5 view camera. I also used my own early JVC video camera (recording on U-Matic and early VHS decks - NOT portable!) and the store's 8mm and 16mm film movie cameras.

From the mid 1990s on, I was also shooting digital. I used little point and shoot cameras and had my 35mm chromes digitized to satisfy my clients need for digital files. I wasn't giving up 35mm SLRs until digital matched Kodachrome 25 for quality AND at a reasonable price. That actually happened sometime around 2001 or so with the Canon EOS 1D. Still, I waited for that quality to come down to consumer priced models, which it had by the time I got my first Digital SLR, an early Nikon in 2007.

Now, I don't use my 35mm film cameras (what few I have left) much at all, but am constantly upgrading to better, higher image quality DSLRs, lenses, and all the supporting image manipulation software. I still use some roll film medium format folders from time to time for personal B&W, but all my WORK is digital.

I enjoyed my trip down Camera Memory Lane, hope you did as well.

Monday, March 28, 2016

North Texas Travel Photos

We've been doing a lot of commercial work in and around Amarillo TX and other parts of North Texas the last couple of months. Not wanting to waste any opportunities, we scoured the area online and on the road for interesting photographic subjects. 

Any place can have lots of interesting photographs just waiting to found by the right artists. Enjoy our views of the Texas Panhandle and North Texas, and look around where ever you are for those great photographs waiting to be made.

Most of these photos are available for sale at my Foto Time gallery. If you want a print or legal download of any of my photographs on this blog, check in my gallery. If it's not there, message me and I'll add it to the gallery of available art.