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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Making Do...

A lot of things had to be re-evaluated with regards to my photography business over the course of the past 12 months. The financial situation had to be dealt with. At that point the 600mm f/4 had to be removed. So we had to get out of the verbal contract that we were in and luckily the seller was willing to do so at the cost of the expense that we had already put into it which was a $2200.00 payment. So I am back to my 70-200mm with the TC-20EIII at the moment. And I’m busy with that trying to build up saleable images with the potential addition of Lee filters. Ultimately for the time being I will be concentrating on birds at Green Timbers, and landscapes wherever I can manage to photograph them. My wife has asked me to put together an acquisition list of the equipment that I need and slowly I will assemble it.

For hockey photography, as I have done in the past, I will be shooting with both a Nikon D300s and the potential acquisition of a D700 (I’m sticking to older bodies as the D500 and D810 are completely out of my price range at the moment). The other acquisition in the cards is a AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED wide-angle lens which would allow me to get shots behind the net and show the full game with all the players trying to go after the puck. I also intend to shoot landscapes with it so it will end up serving double-duty.

For wildlife, I think I will stick to the 400mm reach that I have with my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with the TC-20EIII put on at least until I can get some cash-flow coming in from my photography.

My hope is that over the next three years that I will have three camera bodies with which to shoot with. Two D300s bodies and one D700 body; two sets of 100x150 Lee graduated ND filters (they come in hard and soft gradient varieties) and a sturdy tripod (I figure I might as well go for the top of the line Gitzo GT5542GLS (that tripod will be sturdy enough to hold a 600mm if and when I manage to get the finances to be able to do so) and I can still use my 70-200mm on a gimbal. It'll provide me with a steady platform from which to shoot. But until then, the situation is “make do with what I have currently…” May not be exactly what I'd like, but have to deal with it and utilize the equipment to the best of your abilities.

Friday, April 8, 2016

04-07-2016 Green Timbers Walk

After feeling wrung out for the past 12 months, both health and psyche-wise, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things. First things first was a serious change of mindset, involving a whole rethink of the entire business. Running a photography business is hard work; a lot of grind and little pay-off, but success will pay off if I stick to it; treating it every single day like a nine-to-five job of building my portfolio of images. My goal is to be a wildlife and landscape stock photographer. That’s what my passions are and what I want to do. However my son likes it when I shoot hockey photography for him. And I do enjoy it.

So, I’ve picked myself up and started walking out to Green Timbers nearly every day. Of course, I do have to set up a schedule to balance it because I can’t just shoot and don’t do any editing or nothing would get done; but I do try to ensure that I strike a balance between shooting and editing. That way my photos get up on social media and gets some exposure. When the car gets repaired the schedule will include regular trips to Serpentine Fen and Boundary Bay. Of course, on those days, I will have to get out extra early as it is a near twenty minute drive out to Boundary Bay one way and I do have to pick my daughter up from school, unless I prearrange it with my wife for her to pick her up.

...and then the fight started...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

04-06-2016 Green Timbers Walk

I resolved to get up and get out of the house today. It's been too long since I went out anywhere on foot...and it shows. I was puffing like a train-engine trying to get up a hill and that's not a good sign. It means that I need to get out and exercise more instead of gorging myself (food is one of my other balms). So cutting through Holland Park, while taking a few photos, I made my way over via 102nd Avenue and walked up that way, then back down to 100th eastbound to Green Timbers. Spent some time hanging out by the lake enjoying the rather nice weather (cloudy though it was). The temperature was not too hot; not too chilly either.

It was a good long walk and to be able to see the wildlife at Green Timbers was well worth the walk. And to be able to soak in the sunshine was nice to do. And now as I'm editing the photos I took over at the park, I'm seeing the sun come out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

FalconRose Photography - Sports (supported by Wix)

FalconRose Sports Photography Wix Website

Screencap to come later

Please check out my sports photography.

Social Anxiety/Persistent Depressive Disorder as a Photographer

In 2004, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder: this pretty much meant that occupations dealing with people on a day-to-day face-to-face situations was out as most contact meant that I would prefer to dive head-first into a gopher hole and not come back out. This meant that social photography such as portrait or wedding photography was out. For the longest time, I tried to deny it; that if I suppressed it far enough down inside, that I could make it go away. It returned, worse that before, to the point where the only time I ventured out was when I needed to do something or go absolutely crazy – I almost became a hermit. In fact the only people that I could stand to be around were the friends who I knew personally, that I knew weren’t threatening; and even then only on Facebook.

Why Are There Eyes On Me - How Do I Turn Invisible?

Why am I exposing myself this way? Because mental illness needs to be addressed. Most of us who struggle with mental illness every single day aren’t doing this because we want attention or are lazy or don’t want to work. It’s that we have an illness. We struggle with it every single day but we find a way to deal with it, in a way that it doesn’t incapacitate us. I use photography as my balm first, a business second. I prefer to shoot landscapes/wildlife as a way of healing my soul.

Photography is a business where those who know how to socialize thrive; in the genres that involve contact with people everyday. For those of us who have to deal with social anxiety; for those with persistent depression, wondering if we’re good enough or whether we’re defective, it’s mental torture. We are our own toughest critics. A lot of us become gear-heads – thinking that the latest new gear can improve our photography to the point where we have a break-through and can start earning money with it.

So how does one become an photography entrepreneur when saddled with SAD/PDD? One: you pick a genre which is the least threatening. Two: When you pick your genre, you find a way to make your images stand out from the rest (a goal that I’m still trying to reach), Three: You need to separate yourself from your safe-zone (most people who are socially anxious hate going out into the big wide world because there’s a lot of what we perceive as threatening people in it (that’s not the truth in the world, it’s our skewed perception of reality and that’s what we have to deal with everyday) – we’d prefer it if we could stay inside our home. We have to grit our teeth and go out and make the effort to get out there and do what we need to do or else we don’t develop the portfolio that we need to in order to get our business off the ground.

Every day is a struggle, but the payoff is worth the effort. I know that with persistence, I’ll get there someday. I’m not going to give up and I don’t intend to give in to the phantoms in my head telling me that the world is a “scary place”. Those of us with Social Anxiety and Depression may be struggling to keep our heads above water emotionally, but we are by no means broken. We will stay fighting to survive, persevere and eventually succeed. And as long as we’re still breathing we’ll fight, every single day to stay that way.

Refocus and Re-Plan.

This past nine months of not having a functioning computer has really had me stretch my patience to the breaking point however I have found solace in a few positives: one; it has made me rethink the direction of my photography career and I've gained insight into what makes me tick as a human being - what my strengths are; two; it has made me realize that the latest and greatest camera for economic reasons, is not going to happen unless I find some way to make it happen - meaning that I work my ass off with what I currently have plus a few additions (secondary body D300s; and a D700 full frame tertiary body both of which are within my financial capability with several months saving). Three: I have to stay focused on the goal; stay positive and above all, don't give in. Through 2015, I went through the roughest patch in my life, both as a parent and as a photographer -I fell into depression because of certain things that happened which I won't go into here. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't wish these events on my worst enemy. Depression was an abyss that I am still struggling to climb out of but I look at my kids and I see every single day the one reason that I'm fighting it. It's for them that I put out the effort each and every single day.

This has forced me to take a look at my business plan and figure out where my weaknesses are; where my strengths are and figure out a course of action. I have been reading motivational books and business startup books. And the one thing is: there is no "fast track" to building a thriving business. Books are only guideposts. The effort has to come from within. Resist those who would tear you down and work at it each and every single day.

It's too easy to take a day off; which turns into two, three, four, five. There's too many distractions built in with social media that can kill hours of time pulling your attention off in different directions which can be a business killer. I've resolved to start taking this business seriously. I have to: my family's livelihood depends on it.

Water Droplets on Tulips ©2016 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved, Photographer: Haruo Chikamori

So over the next few months; I'm going to be reworking this business from scratch; from building a business plan to formulating goals of acquisition of gear given a set time frame; from shooting hockey (during the hockey season - regularly) to nature/landscapes. Prior to this the business was unfocused; not having a set direction; it will now be forced into a set niche and cultivated because to grow a business requires time and dedication, focus and determination not just winging it on a prayer hoping that something will happen. A business needs direction. And I have to go into this determined to succeed.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why Should I Buy Last Generation Equipment (The Money Conundrum).

Everywhere you look, the marketing departments of every camera manufacturer start pelting you with the latest and greatest camera out there that they’ve produced. Unfortunately for some of us, there isn’t the cash flow. Even thinking about buying the latest D5 or even the D500 gives our pocket book the heebie-jeebies. So what do you do for gear if you’re short of cash? Most cameras that are semi-pro come with a 150,000 shutter count but most people can go well over that before the shutter gives up the ghost. A lot of cameras that I see are tossed aside and sold at a 30,000 shutter count because of the fact that everyone is a consumer and everyone wants the newest and the best. They think about the latest and greatest new camera that’s being flouted as the be-all and end-all of all cameras…at least until the next one comes along and fixate on that. And catering to those marketing ploys is a great way to end up in the poor house; as if we already weren’t there.

So this is coming from someone who is squarely smack in that position of having to make a decision of either going with the latest and greatest camera (I need a secondary body) or utilizing that money wisely to make it stretch and go farther in terms of getting a secondary and perhaps tertiary body. So what to do? Most people who follow this blog, know that I’m into three things. I shoot hockey photography (sports), landscapes and wildlife. Now that’s a wide range of subject. For hockey, I need fast accurate autofocus and a quick response – which means that a camera with a fps of less than six is a no-no. I mostly shoot the action in the middle of the ice, but the moments that are in close to the net with all the action; I need a wide-angle and to be able to shoot at full-frame instead of at DX (crop) would be a plus.

f/2.8,shutter, 1/3200 sec, 110mm, ISO4000 (HO.3)

f/2.8, shutter 1/500 sec,78mm, ISO3200

So? What to do? Nikon isn’t producing the last generation any more. They want the money from the next generation that they’re planning on plugging. Everyone wants the new D500; everyone wants the new D5! Hey, after all, it’s the latest and greatest, right? Sure, but those of us who don’t have a spare eleven thousand or even three thousand can only look at the pdf brochures and drool, because there’s no way in hell that we’re going to ever have one in our hands except as a pipe dream in our heads; at least not until the prices come down.

So what does that leave us with? Just because the latest and greatest is out of reach doesn’t mean that you have to curl up on the couch and give up. If you are trying to start a business as a photographer, start looking into those options. Personally, I’m going with a second D300s and a D700. The D700 is a full-frame camera built like a tank and useful for what I need in sports photography which appears at this point to be my bread and butter. I’m not going to get into why you need a secondary and tertiary body in this blog-post.

This post is for those who are looking towards trying to make money with their cameras. For those of you who are doing photography as a hobbyist, a secondary body is a nice thought to have, but not as necessary.

What is my plan of solving my requirement of getting the gear I need? Because I still need to get the proper gear. I currently have a D300s with a 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII. But the prize for the back-up body at least while I’m shooting hockey (sports) photography is the Nikon D700 full frame body and the eventual purchase of a AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED ultra-wideangle lens. This will enable me to get those shots in the corners and behind the net that I’ve been wanting to get. With the current Nikon D90 and 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, I have to jack my ISO to 1200 to get shots, especially when the action is fast and furious, with sticks poking at pucks and the goalie sprawling to make the save. And mind you, this isn’t professional hockey either. This is straight-up minor hockey at its finest. And to capture the true ebb and flow of the game, one has to have both wide-angle and zoom at f/2.8.

Another point to make is the lighting in the minor hockey arenas. Straight up, the lighting stinks.

f/2.8, 1/500 sec, 200mm, ISO3200

This shot was of my son’s coach talking to the players. I had to shoot at ISO 3200 from 200mm at f/2.8, across the rink. The lighting at Surrey Sport and Leisure Center is brighter than at Arena 2 in North Surrey Arena, but it still is not steady enough to give my camera anything but fits.

Sports photography is rewarding. You get to capture moments in time that are fleeting and capture it in a permanent form (at least for our lifetime). Most can only go, “Do you remember that time, when so and so split the D, cut in on a breakaway and put it top shelf?" Well…I’m glad that I have the ability to be able to capture that moment on camera. And that’s mainly because of one thing: being in the right spot…at the right time…with the right equipment – no matter which generation that equipment is from.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Blog On Hiatus.

It’s been a tough year without the use of a computer. And unfortunately, it’s not going to get any easier as the problem is not being solved. However it gives me time to reassess where the focus of my photography needs to be. In that regards, I’ve been doing some shooting and a lot more thinking.

My photography has been quite sparse, mostly hockey-related and since my mother picked up a laptop for Cameron and Chris, I occasionally borrow it to post up some photos here and there on Facebook and other social media. But without a regularly accessible computer, it’s torture. So, I will put this blog on hiatus for the long term until we can get the photography equipment and computer issues solved.

My hope is that I will be running with a Intel i7-6700K computer when I next start uploading images; secondly I'm going to be tracking down another D300s and a D700 body. In hockey photography, you have to have a second body and a fast ultrawide angle behind the net and in the corners, so I'm looking at the D700/14-24mm f/2.8 combo. So hopefully more hockey photography in the future.