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Monday, April 29, 2013

April Is For Flowers

April is pretty much for shooting flowers. Sometimes I wish though that I could get a 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro, but I'm perfectly happy for the time being with my 50mm f/1.8 D lens. At $139.99 CDN, it's probably one of the best prime lenses on the market for the amateur photographer to put into his/her camera bag.

With picking up the TC-20EIII, I'll be back to wildlife photography in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

300mm f/2.8+2x TC versus 600mm: Pros & Cons.

600mm has been a hallowed focal range for photographers. The stunning wildlife images that have been put out there by the likes of Marsel Van Oosten, Art Wolfe, Joel Sartore and Charles Glatzer. There are a number of factors when it comes to getting out to 600mm focal range. The options are limited.

Option 1: Get a 300mm f/2.8 and add a 2x teleconverter vs. Option 2: Go with a 600mm f/4



The use of the teleconverter on the 300mm f/2.8 puts glass in front of your focusing elements and makes the image less crisp than with a bare lens which would restrict you to 300mm, b) the addition of the 2x teleconverter drops your wide open aperture by two full stops to f/5.6 which ends up making your shutterspeed drop accordingly. Teleconverters are helpful tools, but the con of using them is the fact that they lessen the shutterspeed by affecting the wide-open aperture of the lens. A 1.4x teleconverter usually affects the lens by reducing the fully open aperture by 1 full stop. The 1.7x teleconverter (Nikon) reduces the fully open aperture by one and a half stops. And the 2x teleconverter reduces the fully open aperture by 2 full stops The rule of thumb is "in order to regain a sharp image, you have to drop the aperture 1 full stop." This rule of thumb would make that f/5.6 an f/8 thereby even dropping your shutterspeed even more. The 600mm f/4 has an impressive IQ bare bones. Most bird photographers couple a 1.4x teleconverter with it.


The positive point of the 300mm f/2.8 + 2x TC is the fact that it is than the 600mm f/4. At 6.3 pounds versus a whopping 11.2 pounds for the 600mm, it's slightly more than half the weight. This allows it to become a handholdable 600mm f/5.6 at wide-open aperture. 11.2 pounds doesn't seem like much, but the 600mm f/4 ends up weighing heavily on one's arm if one has to handhold it and most can only hold it with one hand for maybe about 30 seconds at a time. If you don't believe me, go hold a 10 pound weight arm extended and see if you can hold it for more than 30 seconds upright. The 600mm will require a tripod (a Gitzo Series 3 or 5 with a gimbal head) and head to support the full weight in order to utilize it to its best advantage.


Cost is also a factor. At $5,899.99, the 300mm f/2.8 + $499.99 US MSRP for the TC-20EIII, it is a cheaper method of gaining 600mm. The 600mm f/4 is going to hit your pocketbook for a whopping $10,799.99.


Renting often involves renting lenses from a reputable place like in the UK. Or in the United States. Often times, they do not have the latest gear. LensRentals in the States often updates their lens collections often as the new lenses come out but other rental companies in other countries will not, so you may be using the previous generation of gear that may involve other techniques such as manual focusing if you put a teleconverter on. Or you may not get the focal range that you want. HireLenses in the UK are using previous generation 300mm and 600mm lenses. You can be certain of paying somewhere in the neighbourhood of £231 for the 600mm + a deposit for 7 days usage+VAT, or
£183 for the 300mm plus £27 for rental of the 300mm +2x TC (these figures were based on using the Nikon lenses.

Hopefully, this answers a lot of questions with regards to the pros and cons of either utilizing a 300mm+2x extender, vs a 600mm f/4.

Friday, April 12, 2013

More Flower Photography.

The sun came out at least for a short while so I decided to go and photograph some of the flowers around our back and front yards.

This was what I got out of the garden. At least until the tulips are up and out in force. Spring has always been a "photograph flowers" time for me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, Burnaby, BC

Because my wife had some research to do for her linguistics class; we drove over to the National Nikkei Heritage Center in Burnaby and I took the opportunity to play with my iPhone as well as watch over Storm while my wife did some research. The gardens were pleasant to walk around in and despite the overcast skies, it was a nice opportunity to see what the iPhone 4s was capable of.

The building itself is a beautifully designed bit of architecture. The flowing lines are pleasant to the view. It was designed by renowned Japanese-Canadian architect, Raymond Moriyama. I would like one of these days to take my D300s with 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens and photograph it at night during the weekdays when it is open till 9:00PM after dark with all the lights on.

The customary "sakura" - pink cherry blossoms on the trees lining the boulevard.

The waterfalls in the pond out front are peaceful and embue an air of calm which is contrasting with the hustle and bustle of Kingsway just behind the bushes.

This is a place that I could come back to again and again; not just because of my Japanese heritage, but also because of the variety of the photography that I can obtain from just this venue alone.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Photography, Stress and Apathy - What to do about it?

Being a photographer is not all fun and games. Sometimes it can be downright stressful. If you are in a career path and that end-goal is to make money; photography can be an instigator of stress: the strive for perfection; to be noticed by magazines, to be noticed by the editors, to make enough money to make ends meet. All of this can provide stress and even worse: make you spiral into apathy.

So what happens when the sight of your camera makes you want to run the other direction?

First of all, you need to figure out what it is that is causing your apathy towards what you used to love to do. Is it outside stress - is someone making you stressful to the point where you are rethinking your career? Is it that you're comparing yourself to other photographers and thinking that your work doesn't measure up to theirs? Is it that you're feeling burnt out and have absolutely no inspiration - that you feel your photography is the "same-old thing day in and day out"?

Sometimes you just have to take a break from whatever photography that you're doing and go out and photograph something else entirely different to regain a positive frame of mind. If you're in portraiture, go out and play with landscapes for a while or go take some street photography. If you're in landscape photography, try shooting some wildlife or astrophotography. The old saying is that "variety is the spice of life." It does work. Apathy shouldn't be allowed to make it so that you decide to never pick up your camera ever again. Sometimes, you just have to get out there and do something with your camera to fan the spark of creativity.

Being apathetic to the point of giving up your career is a sign of depression and that's the difference between doldrums where you can actually pick up your camera and be inspired by doing something else, versus needing professional help and counselling to get back to an even emotional keel. Depression is a wicked spiral that digs you in deeper and you have to seek help before it pulls you in too deep to get out.

Being a professional photographer is probably one of the most fulfilling things in life that you could be do. You reach the emotional and spiritual side of people with imagery and seeing a person's face light up when they see your photographs is probably one of the best feelings in the world. There is no room for apathy or depression to take that creativity out of this world. Pick up your camera, take a walk with it and photograph whatever comes to mind, even if it isn't a subject you've ever done before. And if you feel that you may have depression, seek professional help for it. There's always a way out - you just have to want it.