Category Archives: General

I’m back–hopefully to stay!

Standard

Over the last couple of years, I’ve really struggled to maintain any sort of photo mojo. It’s due to a variety of factors, both physical and emotional. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty and have started to miss going out on my photo adventures.

I think what really got me to thinking about it again was a trip to Daytona Beach the hubs and I took weekend before last. I generally like to take a camera with me, but I couldn’t decide between my Canon S90 or my Pentax K5 with the compliment of lenses. Obviously there is a great difference in size and features, size ultimately won out. I really do like my S90 as it does a lot of what a DSLR can, but the one thing I don’t like about it is that there is nowhere to mount a circular polarizer. I did use it, but at the same time, I was kicking myself in the butt for not bringing the Pentax. That got me to thinking…what about a micro 4/3s camera and lenses?

I started investigating my options and found an extremely good deal on a new Olympus E-PL2 + 14-42 kit lens for $299 at Adorama. Sure, it’s not the newest model, but it’s a good way to get my feet wet in m4/3 without too much expense. I finally pulled the trigger on Monday of this week and I’m anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. 🙂

In the course of my investigation into the m4/3 mount, I discovered a site devoted to it:http://www.mu-43.com/. Of course I joined right away; I’m HeatherWB there. Since joining, I’ve learned that the m4/3s mount is one of the most adaptable mounts to other mounts, including Pentax. I’ve since ordered an adapter and I’m looking forward to seeing how well my Pentax lenses work with the Oly.

I’ve really come to understand that the best camera is the one that I will actually use. I’m hoping that this Olympus will be that “just right” camera–not too big, not too small and does the things I need it to do well.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get out with the Pentax and do some shooting this weekend. 🙂

Now the waiting continues…

Advertisements

A pleasant surprise!

Standard

For those of you who have followed me for a while,  you know that I’m a Pentax to Canon convert. While I don’t regret making the move in terms of my gear, one of the things I have missed the most about Pentax has been the best-known and busiest of the Pentax-related online discussion groups– PentaxForums. While I’ve posted on other sites such as FredMiranda and POTN, it just wasn’t the same. After being active on PentaxForums for about a year and a half before switching to Canon, that special group of people had become almost like family to me–that’s the type of camaraderie that you’ll find there.

Even though I’ve switched, it’s been this type of camaraderie that’s kept me coming back and checking in every once in a while. Adam, the site’s founder, had even established an “Off-Brand” forum, where many folks like me tended to congregate. Last weekend, much to my pleasant surprise, I ran into this thread while perusing PentaxForums. No, it definitely wasn’t an early April Fool’s joke designed to freak out some of the die-hard Pentaxians. 😀

The new site for Canon and Nikon users is now up and running, as of today. Check it out at:

http://www.canikonforums.com/forums/

Many kudos to Adam for putting the hard work into creating  this the site! 😀

I’ve already registered–find me under “hwblanks”. I’ve already found several people that I recognize from PentaxForums, so I’m very hopeful that the family spirit will be alive and well, as site continues to grow in users. 🙂

Once you’ve checked out the site and determine that you like it, please register and become part of this great community. Please get the word out to your other photographer friends so that they’ll come check us out. Of course, if you’re a Pentax user and haven’t checked out PentaxForums, I would most definitely encourage you to do so.

Singing the wintertime blues…sigh…

Standard

It’s mid February and I’m now getting around to making the first post of the new year. It’s been too long!

As you well know, this winter has been an usually cold one. Even though I haven’t had to dig myself out of the snow (being in Florida), it has still been too cold and/or rainy to go out and do a lot of shooting. Needless to say, I have gotten out a few times to brave the weather, though. I think that I’ve gotten a bit of photographer’s cabin fever, as I’ve been taking more pics of my indoor cats lately. 🙂 My camera gear sits in my office beckoning me to come use it. Spring is only about a month away and I’m really looking forward to getting out and capturing the blooming flowers, green grass, and budding trees.

Fortunately, I will be going on vacation week after next, so that should bring some relief to my cabin fever. For our 10th Anniversary, my husband is taking me on a cruise to Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize, which should bring some great photo ops my way; there will also be some great photo ops on the ship itself. 🙂

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a shot that I got at Burgess Falls, Tennessee while visiting my parents in December. The temperatures didn’t get out of the 30s that day, but I think this shot was worth braving the cold for.

In upcoming posts, I’m planning on sharing my thoughts on my cruise vacation (both gear and creative ends), shooting car shows, and close-up filters. 🙂

One last thing: since my last post, I’ve switched from Flickr to Smugmug as the host of my pics and have gotten my own domain name. Check out my new site at http://www.heatherslightbox.com.

Who are you thankful for?

Standard

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many of us are starting to reflect on the things that we are most thankful for in this life. Naturally, we tend to gravitate towards things like family, friends, jobs, homes, and other material possessions (especially the camera gear!). Today, I want to focus on something more specific–as a photographer, who are you thankful for? Who is it in your life that encourages and inspires you as a photographer?

This idea wasn’t cooked up in my own brain, but inspired by a Facebook post by the Adorama Used Department, which I’m a fan of. BTW, if you comment, you’ll be eligible to win some Adorama gift certificates. 🙂 I’ve already made my comment there, not just in hopes of winning one of those gift certificates, but because there is a photographer that I’m especially thankful for. He’s not famous, he’s not even a professional, but he encourages and inspires me. While he is my favorite shooting buddy, the roots of this relationship go deeper than that, for he contributed his DNA to me. He is my dad. 🙂

I had been dabbling in photography off and on throughout my adult life when I finally bought my first DSLR in October 2007. Up until then, Dad had never shown any interest in photography to speak of–Mom took almost all of the pics of me and my sister when we were growing up. As I started sharing what I was learning about both my new gear and techniques, Dad started to get really interested. Finally, in May 2008, he took the plunge and picked up his first DSLR and started learning from scratch, with lots of help from me and another photographer friend of his. In the past year and a half, we’ve both attended a couple of nature photography workshops and have gone on our own photo outings whenever we’ve had a chance to get together, which isn’t often enough. Not only have we had a great time both shooting and learning, our personal relationship has grown as well. To me, that benefit alone makes it worth all of the thousands of dollars that we’ve spent between the two of us on camera gear and workshops. When I compare how much the relationship I have with Dad is worth in comparison to the money that I’ve spent on this hobby, I most definitely got a bargain. Lord willing, I’m looking forward to many more years of photo adventures with him. 😀

I also am thankful for Mom, who has been so supportive of us and our photography. She has gone on most of our photo outings with us and has let Dad spend tons of money on gear (not all spouses would be as supportive as she has been), not only for himself, but some for me, as well (they bought me the Canon 40D body that I’m currently using). Even with her little Kodak superzoom p&s, she is a good photographer in her own right. 🙂

*******************************************************************

On a totally different note, I’ve been on vacation this week, so I’ve had time to make some changes to the blog page. I’ve done a little deleting, but I’ve added a good many new links. While I’ve added a section with links to Canon resources, I’ve opted to keep the Pentax links for those who find this blog via the link to it in the signature that appears on all of my posts to Pentax Forums. I’ve also added a button that will allow you to receive my postings via email, if you’d rather not keep up with them via the RSS feed.

Have a most blessed Thanksgiving! 🙂

Which is better? Film or Digital?

Standard

This entry was inspired by a response I made to a thread on PentaxForums.com titled: “Why is film still better than digital?” I’ll assume that the vast majority of you shoot digital exclusively, but if you actually click on the link and read the thread, it will definitely give you some food for thought.

Here’s my take on the issue…I guess it could be titled something to the effect of “Why digital photography is so great” or “Why the development of the DSLR is one of the best things since sliced bread.” 🙂

Yes, there definitely is a certain nostalgia when using film. Up until nearly 10 years ago, I used film exclusively until my then husband-to-be bought an Olympus 1.3MP p&s digital camera for around $300 to take with us on our honeymoon. On the honeymoon, he had the digital camera and I had his old cheap film p&s film camera. Looking back at those pics, there were some good ones between the 2 of us, but for many of the shots, the IQ left something to be desired. After that, I moved on up in film cameras, owning a series of both SLRs and P&Ss, with a few digital P&Ss thrown in for good measure. By the time I bought my first DSLR in October 2007, I was mainly using digital. Even since going digital, I’ve played around with film, but I’ve always relied on digital for the bulk of my photography for several reasons:

  1. Film (beyond consumer quality) is getting harder to find locally.
  2. Depending on how much you like to shoot, film and developing can become awfully expensive. Memory cards are reusable and decent image editing software can be had for free or inexpensively ($100 or less). Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you’ve already got a computer at your disposal that you can load image editing software on to.
  3. If I’m going to take a film camera on a trip with me, then I’ve got to make sure that I have enough film for the trip, otherwise I might run out and not be able to find my favorite film at my destination. My memory cards are always available; when I fill one up, I transfer the images to my PC and reformat. In a typical day’s shooting, I generally don’t run out of memory card space.
  4. Unless I send my negatives off to a specialized scanning service, I just can’t get the quality of scans that I desire from local developers and I don’t have the type of money to pick up a Nikon Coolscan for myself. The main reason that I would want to scan my film in the first place is to share it with people like you.
  5. Unless I send my film off to be developed, then that means having to make a special trip to the camera store to drop it off and then another trip to pick it up.
  6. If I rely on somebody else to develop your film, my prints may not come out like I want them. Doing my own film developing at home requires dedicated space, as well as special equipment and chemicals, which can get messy. I don’t have that type of space in my house and I don’t have an overwhelming desire to get involved in film developing on that level. OTOH, I can do many of the same things involved with film developing with my digital pics–dodging, burning, color adjustments, etc. with my computer, mouse, and Bamboo Fun tablet using Lightroom and PSE and I’m really enjoying the process of seeing what I can do with each image. As for printing, I generally rely on uploading and ordering prints from a printer like AdoramaPix, although eventually picking up my own photo-dedicated printer (think 9×13 print size) isn’t entirely out of the question.

Really, what it boils down to for me is convenience. With skill development (behind the camera) and practice, I can safely say that the results I’m getting from my DSLR are definitely on par with what I could do with a film camera.

If you feel the same way I do about digital, but would like to edit your images to mimic that film look, check out LifeInDigitalFilm. The author of this blog has developed LR and ACR presets that aim to emulate different types of film, both past and present. I have a good many of his LR presets and I use them pretty regularly when I’m editing in LR.

Yes–I am very thankful that DSLRs have become relatively affordable so that it is a lot easier for me and other people like you to experience the pleasure of photography. 🙂

Yet another workshop…I like workshops

Standard

This posting finds me sitting in a hotel room in Newport, Tennessee before the parents and I head over to Max Patch, which is on the Tennessee/North Carolina border where Dad and I will be attending a photography workshop led by Lori Kincaid. Dad and I first met her at the spring photography workshop at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont earlier this year. Out of all the instructors, she was our favorite, so we were tickled to find out that she offers workshops of her own. In addition to being a great instructor, she is also a great photographer and we’re looking forward to learning more from her. If you’re interested in seeing some of her work here’s the link to her website:
http://www.kincaidphoto.com/index.html
I’ll be posting more about the workshop once I get home, so stay tuned. 🙂

Reading about photography

Standard

Besides photography, one of my other main interests is reading, so once I started getting more serious about my photography, it was natural that I started looking for books on the how-tosof photography. I’ve read a bunch of books on that aspect of photography, but it has been just recently that I’ve started getting more interested in reading and looking at photos produced by the better-known photographers of times past and present. The idea behind this is by studying their work and methods and applying the relevant parts to my photography, that I will become a better photographer.

I’m currently working my way through Mary Street Alinder’s excellent biography about Ansel Adams. During the later years of his life, she was his personal assistant, so with that and some pretty thorough research on the early part of his life, she has painted a detailed picture of Ansel Adams as both a photographer and a person, much of which I can relate to on a personal level, as a fellow photographer. Even though I’m only about halfway though the book, I’ve already learned a lot, particularly when it comes to the process he used in the darkroom to produce the prints that are so loved, even to this day. Even though I’m not using the same type of “darkroom” that he used, I can still apply some of his methods to the digital pictures that I work on in my Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (more on photo editing in a future post). An excellent collection of Ansel Adams’ photographs can be found in Ansel Adams : 400 Photographs. Even if you prefer to shoot in color, this is still a valuable resource for studying photo composition and lighting as it relates to the great outdoors.

Another book that I just got today via ILL at the public library is Intimate Landscapes by Eliot Porter. This is a collection of landscape photography that proves that you don’t necessarily have to include a horizon with a big sky or use a wide-angle lens to capture landscapes. Often times, the best landscape shots are those that don’t include any sky at all. I first became aware of this title when I read an article on shooting the American Midwest in the June 2009 issue of Outdoor Photographer and I think it will provide some much needed inspiration for my photography right here in north central Florida, where I live.

I will leave you with an example of an intimate landscape that I captured just earlier this week as I was walking around my neighborhood. Enjoy!