Is The Winter Drought Over?

Winter can be challenging for photographers in the Northeast.  Especially if it’s not your full time job.  As someone who works a 9-5 it’s very difficult to find inspiration to shoot.  Many photographers also struggle with inspiration when they don’t leave their city/town enough.

The golden hour is frequently spent at the office and you can only go out and shoot so many long exposure night shots.  And even when you do you’re freezing your ass off because it’s 15 degrees.

I shouldn’t complain too much.  Here are some of my favorite shots from this year’s slow season.  Many nights loosing the feeling in my fingers and toes but I’m happy with a few of them.

I know it’s only February but the sun is staying out later it’s warming up randomly thanks to decades of poisoning the ozone layer so it’s time to shoot.  But time is still limited.  I decided that I’ll start carrying my camera with me to work each day.  Working and living in the city constantly provides new opportunities to improve my street photography.

First things first I needed a new bag.  I prefer a messenger style bag to carry to work so I had Manfrotto send me out the Befree Messenger bag that would support both my work laptop/iPad and my camera and a few accessories.

Next I needed to make some efforts to get out of the city more.  Any photographer, hobbyist or professional will tell you, you need to step outside your city/town often.  It’s very easy to lack inspiration from your every day surroundings.  I find that even in a city this happens to me often.

Last weekend I took a trip out to my alma matter Rider University to catch up some old friends and watch a basketball game.  Of course I brought my camera with little or no expectations of obtaining any usable photo but for me it’s getting back in the hobbits of a hobbies photographer.

Next week I’m off to New York City for a week (work related) but I’ll be sure to have my camera with me in hopes of exploring some new opportunities to shoot a new city.  One I’m not particularly familiar with and not particularly fond of.

By the end of next week I really hope to have some photos up here in another blog post to talk about the experience as well as update more frequently on Instagram.

How to Edit and Share Your DSLR Photos on the Go.

Everything is portable these days.  Smartphones and tablets have only enhanced that.

Today I’m going to talk about all of the ways we can use these new mobile devices to enhance your Digital SLR shootings on the go.  I will not be including any talks about the use of laptops since the interface is the same as desktop.  Instead my focus will be primarily on Apple iOS and Android based operating systems and the hardware/software to go along with it.

Wired & Tethering Options

IMG_6059Lets start with our hard connected devices.  Apple makes a ton of accessories that allow you to connect your camera, USB card reader, or SD card directly to any iPad or iPhone.  The Apple Lightning to SD Camera Card Reader is just as straight forward as it sounds.  It allows you to plug you camera’s SD card in and upload the photos directly to your camera roll.  This is great because it does not use the battery of your camera but even with some of the fastest SD cards the download speeds using this adapter are pretty slow.

Next we’ll jump into Apple’s Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.  This adapter gives you a traditional USB-A style port along with the lightning port. (So you can continue to charge your device). This is a noticeably faster way to load your images to your iOS device but keep in mind you’re using your camera’s battery to help that transfer as well as losing the ability to shoot photos while it’s happening.

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If you happen to shoot on micro SD cards with a standard SD card adapter (not recommended) you can simply enter that micro SD card into many Android devices.  For example I use the Samsung Tab S2 tablet and I’ve downloaded content directly from GoPro using this technique quite a bit.

Tethering Options

Tethering options have been around for a while when it comes to traditional computer tethering.  These options are somewhat limited in the Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

Apple doesn’t allow the type of tethering that we’re used to but if you’d like you can shoot refer to the USB 3 Camera Adapter mentioned above for the quickest way to upload photos.

Android on the other hand offers much more.  By downloading the app DSLRController you can tether to any supported android device and do a ton.  DSLRController gives you full control over the camera including Aperture, Shutter Speeds, ISO, White Balance, and more.  It also acts as a live screen with very little or no delay.  There are however a few cables you’ll need to make this work.

Micro USB (or whichever your mobile device uses) to a female USB-A Adapter   ($5)
Mini USB (or whichever came with your camera) to USB-A ($5)

I recommend that even if you have the cable your camera came with to invest in a longer one like the one linked above from Amazon.  6 Feet for five dollars.  You’ll thank me later.

I’ve used the app on a number of occasions.  I would say the most valuable part of this app is when you’re shooting video.  I like to use prime lenses to shoot video with a shallow depth of field.  So for me it’s important to know that I’m in focus and having a 9.7″ screen on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 really helps with that.

Wireless Options

Welcome to 2017 where almost everything can be done wirelessly.

Well Digital SLRs in most cases are no exception.  First thing you’ll want to find out is if your camera body has WiFi capabilities built in.

Here is a quick list:
Canon T6 Rebel
Canon T6i Rebel
Canon T6s Rebel
Canon T7i Rebel
Canon 70D
Canon 77D
Canon 80D
Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark IV

Nikon D5600
Nikon D7200
Nikon D750
Nikon D500
Nikon Df
Nikon D810
Nikon D810A
Nikon D5

If you don’t see your camera body here don’t worry, you’re not completely out of luck but fist let me focus on these bodies.

Canon and Nikon both have mobile apps for both iOS and Android operating systems that you can download for free.  These apps will walk you through exactly how to pair you’re camera to that device.  Once connected you have a ton of control over your camera including but not limited to Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, White Balance, and most importantly viewing the shots that you’ve taken and uploading them to your mobile device.  iOS 10 even supports photos in RAW now making your editing even more precise.  Don’t worry we’ll drive into editing tools soon as well.

I’ve found that pairing these devices after the initial pair isn’t as simple as it should be.  This causes me to avoid using it much.  I only find it worth the pain of re-pairing the device when I really want to share a photo in the moment.

Wireless Options for Bodies That Do Not Have Wireless Built In

As I mentioned earlier some bodies simply do not have wireless built in but that doesn’t completely cripple you from doing this thanks to our friends at EyeFi.  EyeFi is an SD card with wireless capabilities built in, making any camera that shoots to SD cards now WiFi capable.  EyeFi can send photos to any iOS, Android, or even desktop operating systems including raw files.  Now you’re not going to get the controllability of the camera like you do when WiFi is built in but you can still view and transfer your photos very easily on the go.  The one major drawback is the speeds aren’t incredibly fast and you cannot shoot with your camera while the photos are transferring.

Canon also has an add on wireless option via SD card known as their W-Ei WiFi Adapter. Keep in mind to use a system like this you need to have a dual slot cards like the Canon 7D MkII.  Early reviews on this have not been good at all.  I’m hearing that it’s very slow and really just not worth the hassle.  I’d steer toward the EyeFi if you absolutely need that option.

Mobile Software

IMG_6060Editing on the fly has become extremely simple and there are some great options to use out there.  I personally use Adobe’s Creative Cloud.  Subscription based softwares are becoming more popular and Adobe offers some pretty great options.  For as little as $10 a month you can get going with Photoshop and Lightroom on your desktop and mobile devices.

Lightroom for iOS and Android is actually free to test out and edit photos.  As someone who doesn’t do much re-touching and focuses more on exposure and color correction these apps are amazing for editing on the fly.

There are way too many apps out there to go through all of them.  If you’re using one that you love leave a comment below and I’ll try it out for sure.

 

Moving From a Crop Camera to a Full Frame Camera.

I purchased my first DSLR in 2007.  A Canon Rebel XT (350D) with 18-55mm & 70-300mm kit lenses.  I had ZERO idea how to use it or any of the theory behind proper photography.  I did have a strong desire to learn.

I would bring it with me everywhere and read as much as I could on forums about how to use the Rebel.

Finally I used a college elective to enroll in an entry level photography course which would teach me the basics of Apertures/Shutter Speeds and how they compliment each other.  They didn’t teach anything about ISO at the time because I think anything over iso 400 at the time was almost unusable.

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One of the first portraits I took with my Canon Rebel XT, 50mm 1.8 and 430EX Flash.

I upgraded to a Canon 20D, 30D, 50D and the 60D that I use today.  All of the cameras I’ve ever owned use what is called a APS-C or “Crop Sensor”.  These sensors are a bit smaller than a traditional camera and part of those drawbacks are that they give you less color definition and less light.  One small advantage is that they give you 1.6x further focal length on your lenses.  Example a 200mm on a Crop Sensor would really be closer to a true 320mm using Canon’s 1.6x Crop Factor.

Canon-EOS-60D-vs-Canon-EOS-6D-size-comparison-2
Notice the much larger mirror on the 6D.

This is great if longer focal lengths is what you want.  But for me I enjoy shooting a lot of landscape and live music photography which really needs better low light capabilities as well as a wider focal length.  The width is much easier to achieve with a Full Frame camera that true to spec of a  35mm film sensor.

crop-sensor-vs-full-frame-with-labels

Let me share an example.  Since I’m currently using a 60D which has an APS-C Crop Sensor, every lens I put on there is really 1.6x further focal length than it actually reads.  So right now I use a Tokina 11-16mm lens almost exclusively for my landscape shots.  This lens was designed specifically for cameras using an APS-C sized sensors.  So if you were to mount on a full frame camera you’d have more of a true 7mm focal length which would give you an almost unusable shot.

tokina-11mm-vignette
Photo Credit: Andrew Reid from ESOHD.com

So to recap, I want to go Full Frame for the light and color advantages but the Tokina 11-16 Lens I’m currently using isn’t going to work on that camera.  Anyone want to take a guess on what focal length I’ll need to achieve similar results to my Tokina 11-16 lens?  Hmmmm about 17-25mm.  Fortunately Tokina makes a 16-24mm lens and Canon makes a fantastic 16-35mm lens.

So now that you have a small understanding of the difference between a Crop Sensor and a Full Frame Sensor you can see that it’s a pretty major transition.  My main camera body and favorite lens are going to need to be replaced as a pair.

As you may have read, I had the ability to test out a Full Frame Canon 5D MK3 and Canon 16-35mm 2.8L Lens for a weekend.  I became obsessed with the image quality I was getting and I’m very happy with how the photos came out.  Let me know what you think.

A week or so after I was obsessed with finding a Canon 6D (Canon’s prosumer level full frame camera) with a reasonably low shutter count (similar to mileage on a car) that was within my budget.

After about two weeks of searching high and low, I was able to pick up a Canon 6D and Canon 16-35mm L lens to replace my 60D and Tokina 11-16.

Now I haven’t had a ton of time to test it out but with the 500 shots I’ve taken with it so far I’m blown away.  The colors are more true to life, the high ISO shots are much less grainy than any crop sensor I’ve shot with, and the true 35mm focal lengths are fantastic as well.

I’ll do a full review on the Canon 6D after I’ve had a few weeks to play with it.  Sure I know it’s nothing new.  In fact The Canon 6D MK2 is rumored to come out in Q2 2017, but it’ll be a good article for those considering switching on a budget.

Here are some of the things I sacrified going from my 60D to a 6D.

  1. Rotating Display – This might not sound like much but it was great for protecting the screen when not being use as well as being able to get a preview of your image in those awkward angles you sometimes shoot in.  (Especially if doing long exposures)
  2. The Continuous Drive – The Canon 60D can shoot up to 5.3 full resolution raw images per second.  The Canon 6D just 4.5.  That might not seem like much but if you’re the type of person that shoots actions shots or sports this will make a huge difference.  For me I don’t do much of that, so I’m alright.

That’s really about it.  When I do my full review of the Canon 6D, I’ll make sure to talk about all the new amazing features I love about the 6D but for now I hope you got some good insight if you’re considering moving from a crop sensor camera to a full frame camera.

How Budgeting My Time Allowed Me To Have Multiple Streams of Income, Start Graduate School, and Pursue Passions.

Let me start off by saying I am, in no way, a financial expert.  Good glad we’ve established that.  I spent the last decade budgeting off of what I could afford based on whatever my expected income was for my single job.  I paid my bills, saved what I thought I could afford to, and spent the rest on whatever.

About six months ago I started working a 2nd job as a Postmate’s Courier as a way to expand on my savings and fun money.  Postmates, if you’re not familiar, is a delivery service mostly in major cities, that will deliver you almost anything from stores that don’t provide their own same day delivery service. If you want $10 off your first delivery use Promo code 7S9H.

So with another income I was able to do save more, go out more, buy more, you know, everything you’d expect.  But it also opened up a world of new opportunities.  Keep in mind that I do not use these funds in my monthly budget as they can change frequently.

I have been using these funds for things such as help pay for graduate school.  Something that will most certainly increase my primary salary later on.  Even if it’s not toward a degree education is so important in any career.

It also has allowed me to get back into pursuing my passion of photography.  (A very expensive hobby)  Since they I’ve built a list of clients that are offering me paid photography gigs creating a third stream of income.  (Anyone who shoots knows if you make enough to pay for the gear you continuously aquire, you’re in good shape)

Lastly I’ve used some of it to invest.  I’ve researched companies that offer dividends as a way to create ANOTHER stream of income.  This by no means is going to make me a millionaire but I look at it as a way to safely put money aside that’s harder to access.

You can see how this becomes addicting.

So now here I am, now able to earn more, attend graduate school, continue to pursue passions such as Photography and Blogging and feel more financial freedoms than ever.  All of this started from jumping into a 2nd job that I do on my own schedule.  Very similar to Lyft or Uber. (Available in almost any market). The craziest part was just taking the leap to try something new.  If it didn’t work I could easily fall back into my existing lifestyle.

I’ve learned an extremely valuable lesson by taking the time that may have been spent watching Netflix or playing XBOX and allowed it to snowball in a few things that have made my life so much more fulfilling.

If you think there is more out there for yourself and aren’t sure exactly what it is.  Take a journal of how you spend your time.  After a few weeks dig deep into this journal and see exactly how you spent your time and don’t be afraid to make changes.  They don’t have to be permanent.

Point is, don’t be afraid to step outside the comfort zone and try something new.  I am by no means poor (nor am I rich) but knew I wanted to earn a bit more money but I had no idea it would jump start so much else.

J

A Weekend With a Canon 5D MK3 and Canon 16-35 L

As I’ve been considering the switch to a Full Frame camera I thought it would be a good idea to spend sometime with one before making the investment.  I was lucky enough to rent a Canon 5D Mark 3 & Canon 16-35mm 2.8L for the weekend to replace my Canon 60D and Toking 11-16 2.8.

First impression.  Well that just expedited the process of wanting to upgrade.  The body feels perfect in my hand.  From the size to the weight its feels excellent.

I was blown away with the colors and contrasts of the 16-35 L Lens.  Here are a few of my favorite shots from the weekend.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge and see metadata.

Philadelphia