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Friday, July 29, 2011

My Lee Holder is here

I love my new Lee holder. It arrived on Monday...but it was not until about Wednesday that I opened the box...then of course, I decided to wait for a couple more days before getting together a blog post about it. So without further it is.

This was what was in the box. This is "Chicken Soup for the Landscape Photographer's Soul"

Primarily, the Lee holder comes in two component parts. The adapter ring which hooks onto the lens.

You'll notice the threads here to attach the adapter ring to the lens. In this case; the 67mm adapter ring is going to attach to a Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

The box the Lee Foundation Holder kit came in. Nice...isn't it?

What came in the little Lee bag that the holder came in: 1) The basic holder (with two slots). 2) one additional slot for a 3rd filter if needed + plus longer attachment screws (you replace the shorter screws attached to the holder with the longer screws when you attach the extra slot) 3) a jewellers screwdriver is provided (which is a really nice thought). 4) and a lovely canvas protector bag that you can carry this in. felt like Christmas opening this box up.

Now this is what the adapter ring and Lee foundation holder look like fully assembled. I'm going to have to do a video for those who are learning the Lee system. Look for that to come in the next few weeks. It'll be a close-up video of just my hands putting the pieces together, plus me narrating the steps to assemble the pieces together.

QR for iPhone for my 500px FalconRose Photo Site

Here is the new QR code for my 500px FalconRose Photography site.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Camera Store

Tomorrow, FalconRose Photography's order goes into Calgary for the Lee Foundation Filter Holder kit, and the Lee 67 Wide Angle Adapter Ring. On a waiting list for the Lee ND Grads. Seriously looking forward to getting some scenic landscapes (cityscapes) of Vancouver whenever I can get a hold of those ND Grads. Next month Capture NX2 and a 67" Hoya or Kenko Pro-1D Circ Pol, trying to decide between the Moose Warming Pol and the Standard Kenko/Hoya Pro-1Ds.

Will be saving up for the Lee ND Grad (softs) set and putting them to use as soon as Lee gets enough of an order sent to the shop that I'm buying them from. I have to thank my friend Darwin Wiggett for referring me to that particular shop because I haven't been able to find a damned Lee holder ANY where other than that. Of course they're handmade; and of course their quality control is the point where they're so in demand that you can't find them unless you have the dough to dump on 'em when they do have them in.'s to chalkin' up money in a savings account set aside for equipment (wife's idea).

Thanks to the great service of The Camera Store in Calgary, I will have the necessary equipment (the holder & adapter) to start using the Lee ND Grad filters when I can manage to get a hold of a set. Thanks to Stacey for the great service (holding the items on order till my money order gets there) and to Evelyn for placing me on the Lee 0.3/0.6/0.9 ND Grad (soft) filter set waiting list. I look forward to making the order as soon as they arrive. And I hope to one day manage to get a chance to visit the physical retail location in Calgary. Looks like a great store filled with knowledgeable staff.

Friday, July 15, 2011

500px - A site for serious photographers...only...

Over the past few years, I've been on Flickr and I've seen it grow from a site dedicated to showcasing and sharing your "best" photography to an behemoth that seems only concerned with the bottom line with no regard to the quality of images being placed up on there.

Now Flickr seems to be populated by high-school/college students (now don't take this the wrong way and assume that high-school and college students can't be AWESOME photographers - the Awesome HS and college serious photogs are certainly welcome to join 500px) intent on sharing their latest wild party pics with no artistic bent in any of them. That was not the Flickr I joined way back in 2005. At least back then, you could sort the wheat from the chaff. Now with the proliferation of drunken party pics that seem to permeate Flickr, I've gotten disgusted with the whole Flickr thing, thrown copyrights onto the remaining photos I've placed on Flickr and decided to amscray for the new Toronto startup 500px.

500px was just started a few years ago (2009 in fact), and it's been popular with professional and serious amateur photographers. That has been its focus and hopefully will remain that way. The site is self-critique: you put what is considered your "best" work up. Frankly, there is no excuse for not harshly critiquing your own work. People also get to like or dislike your images, depending on how they perceive your work, so you can get a good idea of just how popular your images are and tailor your image uploads accordingly. Also, you have the option of following other members to see just what the other members are producing in terms of quality of work and other members can follow you. If you go up to 95% or more in photo popularity, your picture will be placed on a Popular Images lightbox...and you will generate much more traffic for your overall 500px profile (don't ask me how it works, I haven't got there yet).

Now that 500px becomes more popular, I'm hoping that the image quality remains high and that new members will self-critique their images to keep their image flows in context with the high-quality that permeates throughout this photo-site. Or that members will harshly critique "stupid party" pics that are placed up just for the sake of "attention-getting". That's the only way that 500px will maintain its commitment to high-quality images when it goes mainstream like Flickr. Call that elitist, but that's how I feel with regards to this new place we've found. It's become an "old-boys n'girls" club and the only way that we can keep the standards high is to coldly evaluate and ostracize or completely kick out those who "flout the rules".

Previous 500px Profile Lightbox

Current 500px Profile Lightbox

My 500px profile is here: (let me know that you've followed me and I'll follow you).

For those of you who want to check out my spouse and photography partner's work. Here's the URL to her 500px account

I think Ian Sobolev (the Creative Director for 500px) says it clearly when he says "And thirdly, by showing only great photos and reinforcing this principle helps people realize that this is not a place for their family photos, even though we are not against those — they will be just ignored by the public. All this lead to an interesting effect — the quality of the photos in Popular is constantly improving, and comparing top photos from just half a year ago shows a great leap in quality. So I’m very excited to find out how it will play out in the future." Read the whole article at Naturography - Interview with Ian Sobolev Creative Director, 500px.

Call me controversial and antagonistic, but on 500px, I don't want to see your party pics. I don't want to see your friends making silly faces. I don't want to see the raves that you and your buddies have attended. I make NO apology over my stance on those type of pics especially on a site like 500px which caters to artistic photography. What I want to see from new members is PHOTOGRAPHY; tastefully and artistically done, This site is dedicated to art and should stay that way. There aren't as many restrictions in the way of censorship so you will see artful nudes and boudoir type photography tastefully done, however, outright pornography will get you banned. I tend to stick to my favorite genres, wildlife, aviation and landscape...and the photographers who do those genres are the ones that I tend to follow. I will not hesitate to use the "dislike" button when justified, if I see something that will contribute to the dissolution of the high standards for which 500px is currently known for, so be warned. You can call me a photography snob, but when I find a place that I'm comfortable in, you can be damned sure that I'll out the rabble who want to destroy the place.

Enjoy the place, have fun there, admire the works. Put up your own best work, but please keep the standards high. That way we can scare the rest of those who just don't care about standards into not even joining. Let's keep this a place for serious amateurs and professionals.

Edit: July 16, 2011 Update: after researching what others think about 500px.

I hear that people are complaining about the 500px "Dislike" button: Especially the conspiracy theorists here: 500px is conspiring to keep me down with the DISLIKE button

The Icebox (Flickr) is especially hilarious when it comes to online-theatrical rants against 500px

Periodically in some "so-called" artists profile portfolios I see a standard "head and wall" shot; just a "snapshot" of someone that somebody knows. I don't care for those type of shots. There is no artistic mien to those kind of shots. Anyone can do this with a point and shoot. And it degrades your art. If you're guilty of those kind of shots. Do us all a favor and get them off 500px. Put 'em up in Flickr. I'm not interested in your family shots and I will "dislike" it just to get it the hell off the wall. I don't "dislike" ordinarily out of spite, but I will "dislike" a photo if I feel that it doesn't meet the requirements of what most people would consider "their best photo".

Also what pisses me off immensely is people putting up minor variants of the same goddamned picture. Saw several like images of half-cut off b&w portraits. We get what you're trying to do with one shot. Don't inundate us with 50 shots of the same goddamned CRAP!!!!

Or people putting up gritty urban-style post-processed B&W shots of a blurry bench. WTFH are you trying to express? Because all I see is a f*ng blurry bench. OK? Unless I'm walking around in your brain at the time you pressed the shutter I have no f*ng idea what you're taking the picture for. And it makes me think that you're a "great artist-in-your-own-mind". Listen, Andy Warhol died 24 years ago and frankly you're just a wanna-be. The point of a picture is to get your viewpoint across to other people. And frankly...your picture ain't doin' it for me.

Wildlife photographers don't put up "cutesy animal images". It takes more thought and planning than you could ever put into photography with your just uploading a shot of a candy wrapper lying in the street and calling it "Urban Waste". And shots of models standing take more thought than just merely plunking a human being in front of a building and taking a shot. More Lighting and other effects that you could ever even dream about in your feverish little anarchist "rebel against the system" mind. Don't laugh at what you can't think of producing.

You know what, keep laughing at the photographers who produce award-winning images, keep stewing in your own bitter juices and let the photographers who know how to produce the images that sell...laugh all the way to the bank.

That's all I have to say to the "I'm the best...because I rebel against the system...and produce images that" supposedly "have meaning" type photographers who seem to litter places like Flickr.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Tell Us A Story, Make People Care" - David Griffin, National Geographic

A lot of people look at this video and one stark comment comes home. David Griffin stresses the“flashbulb moment” - the moment that takes you and grabs you by the throat and makes you sit up and take notice - And that ultimately is the difference between an amateur and a professional. An amateur takes one or two flashbulb moment photographs; a professional creates them all the time.

But what most people may not see is that David also gives you one of the keys to photojournalistic success and that is "Tell a story, make the viewers empathize with the subjects of your photographs, and provide a solution". This is an important lesson to all who listened is that people, no matter what we are as photographers, whether amateur or professional, is that we need to look at the story behind our images. "Bring out the story, make us care, make us find a solution to a problem". Photography is so much more powerful when it tells a story. Photography is an important medium that can be used to drive home a point when it is used to evoke a feeling, tell a story and make us think about the message that is being sent. And that's the message that I took home from that lecture and presentation. We have each been given an incredible skill and maybe we all should take a look at how we use it.

We can all take beautiful photographs, some of us can do it more regularly than others. But to take that ability and tell an empathic story with it takes photo-journalists to a whole 'nother level. Whether you're a wildlife photographer - (take a story of the plight of an endangered creature, dig deep into the cause, find out why the creature is endangered, picture why the creature is so important to us, seize on a possible solution to the inherent problem. grab people's heart-strings and make them care) or a wedding photographer (Show a person's lifestory in images. bring out their relationship, make their story tug at the heartstrings of the viewer), the recipe is the same. No matter what genre of photographer that you are, it makes no difference, the concept is the same and it makes your photography have more punch.

David Griffin gave me (in this presentation) an essential keystone of what I can turn my photography into, a strength in telling a story that tugs at the heart-strings and the possibility of solving problems with my photography.

The underlying question is: Can we all care enough to make a difference with our photography and will anyone listen?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Outdoor Photography Canada: A rare find and a great magazine

One of the best finds that I have seen in my hunt for photography information is this new magazine that came out four years ago. It's called Outdoor Photography Canada. It's outdoor photography for Canadian wildlife/nature photographers. It's a quarterly magazine that is jam-packed with info about photo techniques, equipment and other things relevant to a nature photographer. There's even an article by Paul Burwell in one of the issues with regards to smartphone apps that are of interest to nature photographers. And each issue is jam-packed with not only information but eye-popping photography from the likes of Scott Linstead, Paul Burwell, Darwin Wiggett, John E. Marriott, Ethan Meleg (just to name a few) and others.

You can also check out their website for the latest issues. I still have to get the issue that's currently out. Outdoor Photography Canada's website.

I can't consider myself in the same league as the friends who I've mentioned, but I'm certainly going to try to improve. Already, I've been bitten even worse by the photography bug that I'm biting down on a Lee filter holder and am planning the purchase of a set of Lee graduated neutral-density filters for my landscape photography. And I'm indebted to Darwin Wiggett (thanks, my friend) for helping me finally make a choice with regards to a filter holder. Unfortunately Cokin went belly-up as far as I know...and it's just as hard to find a Cokin Z-Pro Holder as it is to locate a Lee filter holder. With Darwin's help, I managed to locate a store in Calgary that has Lee holders in stock, so that's where I'm placing my order on the 20th of this month.

My shot of a blue heron wading in the shallows at Vanier Park

As I said before, I can only try to get as good in my photography as I can but it's going to be a lifetime of studying the habits of the creatures I'm going to specialize in. And I'm extremely grateful for the friends that I've made from reading Outdoor Photography Canada and "finding them on Facebook" and their acceptance of me as their "Facebook friend". They provide me inspiration to improve and progress in my nature/wildlife photography. If I can get my photography to the point where I can get a picture on the cover of "Outdoor Photography Canada", that'd be an added bonus. Thanks a bunch to all of them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nature Photography - More flower shots.

With the 50mm f/1.8 lens, I find that there is enjoyment in shooting flowers. So thus I've concentrated on those subjects. There really is no special technique to it other than composition. You want to make sure that there is nothing that would affect the bokeh in the background. Cement will put a grey blurry bokeh. Wood chips will put a nasty reddish-brown bokeh. Dirt will be a greyish brown. Those tend to do nasty things to your image. So watching what constitutes your background is important. Positioning your camera to eliminate nasty bokeh, you can make certain of having pleasing bokeh in the background of your image.

Monday, July 4, 2011

When Your Camera Serial Number Is Not Your Own...

Copyright Protection is a royal pain in the behind for most people. Even more so when your camera has the same serial number as someone else. It just so happens that my D300s has the same serial number as a particular person on the east coast of Canada that has a D60.

Here's the Gadgettrak search on my D300s' serial number and the result of that search has turned up quite a few entries, not including my own 4 results all labelled D300s. All of the other person's are labelled D60.

Now what this means is that I have to go to extraordinary measures to prove that my images are MY images. I have all RAW files for each and every file that I have placed up on I will be purchasing Nikon's Image Authentication Software as well as Nikon Capture NX2; I will be filing copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. I am also expending the cost of a Nikon GP-1 GPS unit to location-authenticate my images from now on. (I'm sorry to any person who likes their privacy, but my copyright protection is more important than privacy issues (at least $150,000 worth for each image potentially stolen)) And I will be putting a digital watermark on each and every image that I put up for sale on my website.

Nikon GP-1 GPS

This may seem like a big deal over a bunch of numbers, however after having 6 of my images stolen via webcrawler and having to enforce a DMCA takedown notice to get the offender to remove them, I have gotten very paranoid about my images and protecting my copyright. Afterall no-one else cares about your images' copyright BUT YOU.

All because a camera manufacturer likes to recycle serial numbers for different camera makes. I certainly hope that Nikon takes this to heart and decides to use model numbers in their serial numbers to differentiate right from the outset that such and such picture was taken by such and such camera. I'd prefer their numbering for semi-pro and pro bodies to be XXXXXXX(7 digit serial#)+(cameramodel#) (for example XXXXXXXD300S or XXXXXXXD3X). That would make it much simpler to differentiate between cameras then they can recycle numbers all they like. Just don't do it within the camera model# or then you're opening yourself up to major problems.

Let's just hope that Nikon takes this to heart because recycling serial numbers opens your company up to a major league lawsuit.