If you are anything like me, you will have an insatiable appetite for books on photography. There is no doubt in my mind that you can learn a lot from them and I like to think that I already have. But some are better than others, some photographers are better writers/teachers than others and I guess some styles appeal to us more than others.
My recent experience was strange, though, as I read two books from the same author and was very disappointed in the first and absolutely blown away by the second
I am sticking my neck out here, as the author I am referring to is none other than Joe McNally, one of the best photographers in the World.
I started to read “The Moment it Clicks” with great anticipation, as it promised a “triangle of learning” where “Joe distils the concept down to one brief sentence”, then “on the facing page is one of Joe’s brilliant images” – So far so good. Then “you get the inside story of how the shot was taken, including which type of equipment he used (lens, f/stop. lighting, accessories, etc)”.
That’s where I beg to differ, because in almost all cases, you don’t hear a word about the lens, f/stop and accessories, usually just the lighting.
I am not saying that I didn’t learn anything and I was certainly well impressed with the pictures, but overall I was disappointed.
So when someone bought me a copy of The Hot Shoe Diaries, I wasn’t expecting too much.
How wrong could I be. It is the most fantastic, inspirational treatise on flash lighting techniques that you could ever wish for. It helps if you use the Nikon system but as someone who has owned an SB-900 for a while and never really used it, I was inspired, delighted, excited and now can’t wait to get out there and make my own light. As before the photographs are simply superb.
Thanks for that Joe, but what went wrong the first time? The triangle of learning concept is a good one but guys like me need our hand holding quite a bit more that we got in “The Moment”. I think “The Diaries” was written after “The Moment” so the next book might be even better. If so, I can’t wait.
Always on the lookout for novel ways to take interesting photographs, I recently became the proud owner of a Lensbaby Composer.
For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a relatively cheap manually focusing lens that comes with a set of aperture rings that make the sweet spot smaller or larger. The front of the lens is mounted on bellows, so that you can point it at whichever part of the frame you wish. Different models fit most types of SLR cameras.
The results are amazing, normally interesting and cause you to think, “how did they do that?”
It’s incredible that we spend a fortune getting the best glass we can for our cameras and then something like this comes along and wins our hearts through an interesting effect rather than the ultimate in image quality.
Have a look at the General section of the Gallery on this site. The Christmas Tree image was taken with a Lensbaby.
I had heard about Mr CAD in Croydon, South London some time ago but never visited. However, I needed a close up lens and some filters for my Pentax ME that I am using for Black & White photography at the moment.
Now I have to confess that Croydon is not one of my favourite places. I find it too busy, too aggressive, confusing to drive around and impossible to park in.
When I arrived at Mr CAD, I thought that I had died and gone to Heaven. They have a car park with spaces available. When you go inside, the place is packed to the rafters with old and new photographic equipment of all shapes and sizes. I was greeted,(I think by Mr CAD himself), who is quite a character and as knowledgeable and helpful a person as you could possible wish to meet.
I picked up the close up lenses and filters I needed and a couple of other items that I didn’t know I needed, and all second hand at very affordable prices. I then had a browse around for an extremely enjoyable half an hour and listened in to the discussions going on at the counter with enormous interest. All the place needs is a coffee shop and they’d never get rid of us.
If you live anywhere near Croydon, I can’t recommend Mr CAD too strongly. If you don’t though, a good second choice might be to visit the web site. www.mrcad.co.uk
Some time ago I decided to enter a couple of my macro pictures of flowers into a competition run by the Daily Telegraph. Imagine my surprise and delight therefore when a friend rang to say that she had seen one of them on the font page of the gardening section on Saturday 24 October. That was when the results were declared and although I didn’t win, I was in the top ten out of thousands submitted.
Not too many people can say that their pictures have been seen in a National newspaper and I feel quite proud and inspired to try and repeat the success.
The image in question is shown below and in my gallery but you can see the other images in the link below.
I have picked up a lot of good tips from Scott Kelby over the years, which is why you will find a link to his Blog and web site from this site. One that I got the other day from his latest book Digital Photography Vol 3 has to be one of the best though.
It is tucked away towards the end of the book, as most of the good stuff in Volume 3 seems to be, if you ask me, but it really is a life saver.
Apparently the manufacturers allow their cameras to take a shot even if there is no memory card in place. They ship their products set up like this so that potential customers can try the cameras in the shop – quite a reasonable idea.
The problem is that if you then buy the camera, it will go on allowing you to take shots without a memory card in place. Imagine how sad you would be if you found out at the end of your holiday, that none of your pictures had been saved.
The answer is to go into the shooting menu of your camera and set it up so that it can’t take a shot without the memory card being there. Then, you won’t ever have the problem.
I know that some camera dealers follow this site, so I hope that some of them might tell their staff to change the setting for a customer as part of the sales process. It would be a really nice thing to do.