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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Posts to be more infrequent at Maniac With Camera.

It's been a great run with "Maniac With Camera"...but I'm finding that I'm concentrating mostly on my business of photography than my personal photography, so this blog is reaching a point where I can no longer give it the due that it deserves. It's been eight years since I started this blog and I have to concentrate on FalconRose Photography to make certain that it goes somewhere and becomes profitable. Most of the business related posts are going to end up being transferred to the other blog, while the personal stuff - the stuff that I do for enjoyment will still remain on here. There may be a periodic update, but not as much as before. Thanks to all my readers on Maniacwcamera...and I hope to see you all over there at FalconRose Photography website.

Considering A Camcorder

I've been seriously thinking about the possibility of purchasing a camcorder. It's been something that's been on my mind for quite some time. With Youtube taking the forefront of uploading content by content creators, it's an opportunity to use video to get my photography out in front of other people. To show the general public what photography is like. What I want to do is to create a vlog of my shooting days as I'm going out trying to get this business off the ground...essentially content creating in two different methods. Firstly this vlog will be in HD - the limit of my finances, but still a high-quality output, then it will go to 4K as funds increase from photography sales. In fact, my wife will have to have one too so we're going to end up having to cough out about $1000.00 just to get video. My photography ranges from landscapes to wildlife, so the vlog is going to be interesting.

I know a lot of content creators are going into 4K, so I'm going to be lagging behind, however, for our financial security, I'm not going to follow them just yet. If I spend $1199.99 on one single 4K camera, then that's more money that could have gone to creating photography that just went into getting high quality video plus the fact that my wife would be unable to create her own video content and thus would not be very happy - period. Right now, 4K is starting as a format. And only a few people with the cashflow to spend are getting in there. Eventually, I figure the prices will come down on the camcorders. But right now, HD for me will be the pinnacle of what I can put out as far as image quality in video. And frankly my video-editing skills are in its early stages too, so it's not going to be a big thing with me versus my photography.

I have however decided on a camera that I intend to purchase with the available money that we have; until then, I will just have to utilize my iPhone for the time being.

When I go to purchase the camcorder, I've decided that it will be a JVC Everio GZ-R70. The camcorder has 32GB of onboard memory which means that I won't be having to worry about buying several 64GB SD cards right off the bat, but it will still be able to record enough data that I can go through it and edit the video before uploading it to my Youtube channel. The GZ-R70 is water-proof to a depth of 5 meters and though I won't be putting the camcorder to a strenuous abuse test, I will rest easy knowing that I can dunk the camcorder in for a perspective shot without having to worry about inner component damage. If I really want underwater video, I'll go to a Nikon Coolpix AW130 so that I can swim with it underwater; not that I'll be doing that anytime soon.

Video will be a great little addition to the photography and it will enable viewers to come along with us as I and my wife go places to photograph. People like to know what it is that you're doing and it makes them feel as if they were a part of the process. And I look forward to being able to shoot my first comprehensive video on Youtube; called Behind The Lens

Saturday, July 30, 2016

"Do You Have To Bother Me While I'm Sleeping? Daddy?"

Mina tries to sleep while Daddy tries to get a photo of her.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Harriet the Great Horned Owl

Harriet is a Great Horned Owl with Radical Raptors Falconry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Need To Find A New Camera Backpack.

I have been looking for a replacement backpack since I threw out my old Lowepro CompuTrekker AW which I'd purchased in 2008 because Sam (my late cat; rest his soul) decided of all things to use the bag for a kitty litter box. Frankly the damned thing stunk after that. And there was no way to deal with the smell that permeated into it. So out into the trash it went.

I wanted to make sure that I found a bag that fit my needs. In fact, I need the equivalent of two bags: the first being a sling day-pack which I will be able to carry both my Nikon D300s, my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII extender attached and my 18-70mm f/2.8 along with my filters, in a comfortable position. The second being a day-hiking backpack with room enough for all my lenses (including my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII; TC-20EIII extender, my 18-70mm f/2.8 and my 50 f/1.8D. I know that I'm going to have to spend at least $800.00 minimum on both bags and that's going to take a large financial chunk out of my pocketbook. Invariably I'm looking for something that works.

Not to go into a big history on why backpacks/slings have to work for me; it's in regards to a nagging back injury suffered in 2006 when I fell down a set of stairs impacting my back in three places resulting in nerve damage to the back causing pain and fatigue if any load to my back isn't properly supported. Hence the reason why my search for a proper back-pack or sling has been fraught with missteps and unfortunately, I haven't found the right backpack or sling yet.

The purchase of a slingbag needs to have the weight properly aligned across the back or it will cause strain to your shoulder muscles. Invariably, you are carrying at least 10 lbs of camera gear. A camera body will weigh around 1.5 lbs with camera battery, memory card, body cap, and monitor cover. The Nikon AF-S VRII 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED weighs around 3.5 pounds; the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX G ED lens weighs around .85 pounds and the 50mm f/1.8D weighs .35 lbs. Now this is not including all manner of other gear such as .5 lbs worth of binoculars which can easily add about 2-3 lbs to what you're hauling around. And even 10 lbs if not supported correctly can do a number on your back.

The temptation to go economical in terms of camera bag is great as most casual camera bags from Lowepro or Tamrac will cost you between $200-300 depending on the amount of camera gear that you carry. There are other well-known camera bags out there but I'm not about to go into the vast array of well-known options there are out there which eventually I will get into depending on what I need to purchase in terms of gear. I'm going to be concentrating on the casual camera setup usually consisting of a telephoto lens (70-300 f/4.5-6.3)/70-200 f/2.8), a wide-angle and either a macro or a superwide and the bags that can fit that.

I purchased an Impecca DCS205K large camera sling-bag several years ago to try to figure out an easier way of carrying the camera equipment that I carry on a regular basis to shoot with. That was a big mistake to not go Lowepro. First the camera strap connection went requiring a ad-hoc repair job which threw the camera-sling bag balance out of whack, putting more stress onto my shoulders. But I persevered thinking that I spent a lot of money even though the cost was cheaper than the Lowepro; in the end though, the wear and tear on my body from the unbalanced bag wasn't.

Impecca is not known for its expertise in camera bags and I highly recommend rethinking a purchase. From now on, it is Lowepro, Tamrac or a recommended bag from a camera bag manufacturer that has been rated as experienced in producing bags for the professional photographer. You can't just put a bunch of padding into any old bag and call it a camera bag.

I have been currently looking at a hiking daypack from Lowepro with enough room to store my camera gear...and survival gear. Eventually I will upgrade from there to a Alpine type camera backpack with room enough for a camera pack insert and survival gear as well as hardy enough to pack a tent-roll over the top of it. It'll be necessary if I intend to do a Great Bear Rainforest trip at one point in my life, but at 46 years of age...that time is rapidly receding.

This bag, a LowePro is a bag that I've been looking at acquiring. It appears to have enough space for extra clothing (just in case I need it during the course of a day-hike) and a survival kit. It also has straps to attach my Manfrotto 190XB tripod which makes it even more useful. The straps are padded enough to spread out the weight and the camera bag insert contains enough room to secure my Nikon D300s with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached and my 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Perhaps I can make enough room to put my TC-20EIII extender there too.

Note that camera bags will not invariably contain enough room to take everything that you own in terms of camera gear so you will have to pick and choose which lenses and shots are important to you for that particular trip. If I'm going landscape shooting, I leave the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII at home and take my filters, because I need the filters more than I need to carry a telephoto lens for a quick wildlife shot. If I'm going to go and shoot wildlife, I'll leave the wide-angle lens at home. It's a matter of priorities now and focus on the shot. You don't want to wander around the park or where-ever stiff and sore because you over-stressed your back carrying all your gear with you in a backpack that is improperly balanced. You want to have the right gear with you for your trip focus (whether it be wildlife for that particular trip or landscapes for that particular trip or the right gear for whatever your genre). You don't want to overload yourself with gear you may not need for that trip and you don't want to have an improperly balanced bag which will ultimately cause you physical problems. This is where the right camera bag will make all the difference in your shots.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 24, 2016 - Stanley Park Seawall

Well, the day didn't stop with the morning trip out to Burnaby Lake Park. Spent some time with my beloved wife and daughter at Stanley Park too. Of course parking was a mind-numbing $11.00 for the day. OUCH! But we walked around about a third of the way around the park. Of course I found out that my shoes are on the way out and that I need a new pair of them or otherwise I may end up lacerating my ankles. That's not much fun to say the least. Well, after some contemplation, I went back to the car and got out some duct-tape and played Red Green on my shoes, utilizing a pair of soft gloves as a cushion for my ankles and taping the part where the plastic heel of the shoe was poking me right in the heel. I've had my heel rubbed raw before by shoes and it's not a pleasant experience. So I intend to fix up my shoes to get by until my wife can help me get a new pair.

The park trip was originally to see the horses, however...they were closed by the time that we got there which was roughly about 5:40PM

Got to work out my Lee filters a bit, including being able to pull out the 2 stop ProGlass ND filter as well. But I'm really finding that with the lens-flare, I need to get myself a polarizer. And that in itself is over four hundred and fifty dollars. But it will be worth it to get more flexibility in my shooting capability.

Now keep in mind that gear doesn't make the photographer. Gear doesn't substitute for determination, skill and the photographic eye. But what it does is make easier to get the shot that you are looking for and to that end, I'm always looking for gear that makes my job of getting the shot, that much easier.

July 24, 2016 - Burnaby Lake Park,

Burnaby Lake Park was an early morning. In fact two days previous to the trip, I received a Facebook PM from my former classmate at Terry Fox, Rich John Matheson, the Taiwan Photographer, who was in town with his family visiting from Taiwan, wanting to know if I was free to hang out for the morning, taking our cameras and going out and shooting. That sounded like a great plan. So we cleared it with our significant others.

The morning started with a 7:00AM wake-up for me at home in Surrey, grabbing my photography sling-pack and heading out the door to our (mine and my wife’s) Impala. I was pretty much on the road at 7:10AM heading over the Patullo towards Port Coquitlam to meet up at 8:00 AM. Not a cloud in the sky visible from Surrey, BC; so I knew it was gonna be a warm one. I was in Poco by 7:39AM and planted in the spot that we specified that we were going to meet. It was 8:00AM on the dot that Rich arrived in JT’s car (Thanks, JT Naidu). Deciding that we were going to head for Burnaby Lake Park, as agreed upon the night before, we piled his gear (camera bag and tripod) into the back of my Impala and we set off for the lake. It’s been over twenty-six years since Rich and I were at our grad at the Italian Center in East Vancouver, so we spent some time catching up on the drive over to Burnaby Lake. A side detour for some drinks (coffee for him, a 1L of Pepsi for myself) and we headed over to the lake. We’ll skip the part where I made a wrong right turn and ended up in an industrial area rather than the park entrance…but we finally made it.

Now Burnaby Lake Park is what I would call a pristine wildlife preserve nestled in the heart of a bustling city. It’s a place the people come to relax and unwind but in the mornings, especially at around roughly nine, when I shut off the engine at Burnaby Lake Park parking lot, it was pretty empty with the exception of one birder with a 600mm f/4 Canon lens and a few walkers who were going around the perimeter of the lake. Just the way that two solitary Nikonians like it.

Since we were off to see wildlife, Rich had his Nikon D800 with 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII on and I had my own Nikon D300s with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with a TC-20EIII extender (we Nikonians call them teleconverters). I did bring along my wide-angle 18-70mm and my 50mm f/1.8D was buried in the my sling bag somewhere. So pulling out my bag and my Manfrotto 190XB, Rich pulled out his bag and his tripod (a Slik – all I can say was it looked way more robust than mine), we headed over to Piper Spit pier which is the place where the wood-ducks congregate.

Right off the bat we were lucky. We bumped into one wood duck and a few others sitting on top of a branch in the creek that emptied into the lake.

As I was told later by an area birder after I'd mistakenly thought he was a female...wasn't too familiar with wood ducks, this was a male wood-duck in molt hence he's not very colorful right now. To get the shots that I want of the wood-duck I'm going to have to come back in September/October just before they fly south for the winter; hopefully then, I will be able to get the shots that I'm looking for as the wood duck is the most colorful North American duck around when in full plumage, second is the Mandarin duck (native to East Asia and Japan; but can be found in North America as well) and the third being the common mallard.

While Rich was busy photographing the wood-duck, I spotted a black-capped chickadee in a tree branch and proceeded to fire off four to six frames. The black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus is a small non-migratory bird that winters in its breeding area. It's distinctive chicka-dee-dee-dee call is probably the most well-known songbird calls that most people know.

Periodically, I challenge myself to capture birds in flight. And of course these Canada geese Branta Canadensis obliged very nicely. This was a landing from one of them.

You do what you have to in order to get the shot, which includes getting down at eye-level with the birds. Rich with his D800 and 70-200mm VRII at eye-level with the birds. That pier moves...

This male wood-duck looks almost embarrassed to have been photographed in molt.

It was also nice to meet up with a birder knowledgeable in the area who had a chat with Rich and myself for at least a good fifteen to twenty minutes recommending when we should come back to see the birds in proper plumage and I will be back to see them. Evidently she also disclosed that there are bears and lynx in the area so it would be interesting to say the least to see one of those. It does make me wish that I had the finances to put a 600/4 back into my camera bag, but for me, a Sigma 150-600 OS Sport would do me just as well.

A mallard female peeks her head up from between the water lilies. This is a Rich Matheson suggested shot. Thanks, Rich. It came out well.

These last two shots were obtained thanks to Rich letting me borrow his AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. He said that it was sharp and he was right. The lens is incredibly sharp and now I want one for my own camera bag. I will be tracking one down.

It was great to see Rich again after all these years and I'm hoping that we'll have a chance to get together again sometime. Thanks to my wife and Alas (Rich's wife) for letting us go play with our cameras for the morning.

More pics from the day as they're edited

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reworking Photos from 2008

I've been reworking photos from 2008 after transferring them back over to the hard-drive with the new computer in hand. I also intend to purchase a 4TB main storage drive (external) as well as a 1TB Backup Hard-Drive (external). So with now owning both Adobe Lightroom 6 and Adobe Photoshop/Premiere Elements Bundle, I'm able to go back to these photos; visualize and edit them in the way I want to.

Going back to look at images that you have done in the past is not a lazy method of photography, it takes advantage of increased knowledge of editing skills and allows you to make your image the best that it can be. Of course, you can improve by shooting new photos, but my view is that it's good to look back at the past too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lee Filters Acquisition.

I have purchased two essential parts of my Lee kit over the past two days. Yesterday, I picked up the Lee Big Stopper and today I will be picking up the LEE DSLR Starter Kit (which is ultimately a filter starter kit giving me a second holder (when I get a 77mm Lee adapter for my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII for close in zoomed landscapes), a 0.6 (two-stop) ProGlass Neutral Density filter, a 0.6 (two-stop) hard grad ND filter , a very nice carrying case for my filters and a little buffing cloth that will help get rid of nasty fingerprints on my filters. I'll post up the Lee DSLR Starter Kit later when it comes home.

Over the next year, I will be acquiring other parts of my filter kit (in total about $3,000) which will include both hard and soft ND grad sets, a Singh-Ray three-stop reverse ND grad, a Lee ProGlass three stop (0.9) ND filter plus a Lee 105mm Polarizer and adapter ring. Also obtaining the Professional holder setup will increase the flexibility of the Lee filter set. Lee filters are not cheap.

The process involves hand-dipping the resin filters in a gray solution that binds to the molecular level of the resin making the solution bond permanently. The only company that makes the reverse grad (which is an even more difficult process) is the Singh Ray company.

The filters and other holders other than the Lee Starter Kit will have to be ordered from B&H and with the potential for a Canada Post mail strike, it will be difficult to order the filters and polarizer without paying exorbitant customs and duty.

Currently I do have Lightroom 6 and Photoshop 8 which I can utilize to create some images, but the physical filters that I will have will end up helping preserve highlights in the sky that I can. I’m currently looking forward to utilizing the Big Stopper and the three stop hard grad to see how much it will affect my images that have water in them.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Adobe Lightroom 6 & Google Nik Software (First Glance)

For the first time, I’ve been able to use the unlocked (paid for) version of Lightroom 6 and the Google Nik Software plugins. Each new product helps to make my photography that much better than it was before. I’ve never used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro before and I’m looking forward to trying each and every one of Nik’s software plug-in package.

This image was edited in Lightroom 6 and then processed with Nik Silver Efex Pro to create a B&W image.

This image was edited in Photoshop Elements 8 with artificially created Graduated Neutral Density filters.

I'm looking forward to exploring both Adobe Lightroom 6 and Google's Nik Software Bundle and using them to create images as my learning curve progresses on my experience with these software packages.