Travelling with Friends

I recently took a trip – the first one in a long time. It wasn’t to an exotic far-away location, but rather about 3 hours north of my home. The area is very popular with city residents and tourists alike, because of its small towns, wide open tracts of land covered with trees, rock formations that are part of the Canadian Shield and fresh air.

I don’t travel much with friends, at least driving in the same vehicle and staying in the same hotel suite. I instead prefer to meet my companions at our desired destination and prefer to have a quiet place to myself at the end of the day. At least, that’s what I’ve concluded now after several trips done in more traditional fashion.

The bigger challenge, and the purpose of this post, is how to manage my photographic interests while travelling with others. It is hugely difficult when travelling with those who are not photographers – family especially. I won’t go into those details, for fear of alienating any family member who might choose to read this (ha!).

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The Canon EOS R5 is NOT a Video Camera!

For the past year, I’ve been using the Canon EOS R5 as my primary stills camera.  It is a superb piece of equipment, carefully engineered to fulfill all of my wildest dreams for stills photography.  I purchased it for what will become a recurring theme for me – how to make photography more convenient.

As I get older, there are aspects of photography such as the tracking of moving subjects, the determination of tack sharp focus, remembering to switch from high ISO back to normal ISO, remembering to switch from single shot to continuous shooting and back, that could use a little help.  The Canon EOS R5 provides that to me exceptionally well.

Its large, high resolution viewfinder allows me to arrange all of the important shooting information around the edge of the frame without affecting the ability to see the subject clearly.  That’s what defines a mirrorless camera frankly and separates it from a DSLR.  That clear view of the subject and the settings allows me to set up the shot easily even with my diminishing vision, and when I can’t, there are built-in warnings and colour overlays to help me.

Likewise, the LCD is big, bright, rotatable to any angle that saves my aging back and knees, and yet lets me get the camera into the right angle to capture any scene, no matter how high or how low.

I can customize essentially every button and dial to perform the function that works for me, I can set up and save custom shooting settings that give me everything from landscape setups to close up to action setups at the flick of a button.  And I can save out all my customizations to a file to store remotely, in case something causes the camera to need a reset.

Sounds like a gem, doesn’t it.  It’s fast, light, smart and takes pretty pictures too.  It even shoots video.

Say what?  Shoots video.  But the title of this blog is that it is not a video camera. Read on, intrepid friend.

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Let There Be Light – The Truth About Crop Sensors and Lenses

I consider myself a photography geek. I love the technical side of photography. Learning about how lenses work, the reasons why aperture, shutter speed and ISO contrbute what they do to image quality, different sensor designs, the technical differences between full-frame vs. crop sensor, etc. etc.

And more than seven years into this full-time journey, I thought I had heard most of the explanations about why cameras work they way they do. I get it. I can explain it. Even as new technology is released, I revel in doing deep dives into that too.

Of course, I should state that none of this helps the artistic expression in my photography nor will reading this article help your artistic expression. But it does lay the groundwork for quick decisions about how to possibly achieve a specific artistic effect. For example, to get that creamy bokeh, I know I need to do x, y, z. So, to be clear, knowing how your camera works isn’t the be all and end all of being a good photographer. But it will get you part way down that road.

That said, I find it fascinating when I run across a technical fact that I didn’t know. That’s what this post is today.

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Can You Really Do What You Love (for a Living)?

I recently watched an interesting YouTube clip from landscape photographer Mark Denney. He wasn’t talking about the latest natural wonder he had visited or even his plans to do so. Instead, he talked about his journey from corporate worker to artist. He had a financially lucrative and successful career, but decided in 2019 to give it up and turn to what he loved, landscape photography. He did that with a family of four to support.

His journey has been an interesting one, and it got me thinking about how I arrived at where I am today. I thought that would make a great subject for my new YouTube video, which I have sadly been remiss in producing regularly. But I got it done, and I would love it if you would check it out.

And at the very least, I’ve memorialized my Covid mop of hair for all time. I feel like I’m back in the 70’s, when hair was long on both girls and boys, and unkempt and flowing. Those were the good old days. Now where’s my mini-skirt?

Summer Projects

Nice weather arrived in the last couple weeks, so working on a computer has become second priority – I missed my last blog deadline. Sorry. It was so worth it though – being outside in the garden has been a gamechanger for my mood and attitude.

Also, our camera club season has concluded, lockdown is still in place and I’m now left wondering what to do with all my “free time”.

There is the aforementioned garden to maintain, a backyard pond to enjoy and summer breezes wafting through the air. True, but night falls eventually.

Early summer is often a time to take stock, to clean out, clean up. In 2014, I started the tradition of preparing a photobook each year of the images of mine that I felt most emotionally connected to through the year. That lasted until 2018. I have a few years to catch up on. What better time than now. So I’ve set that as one of my summer projects, along with producing some larger prints of these very same images.

Many photographers have commented on the value of a tangible book or print. It somehow gives life and depth to the images we capture. And if an image is already compelling in some way, personally or technically, a hard copy seems to double that feeling. Understanding why can be the first step in a wonderful journey of discovery – corny but true.

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Too Much of a Good Thing

I really enjoy image critiques – no seriously, I do. I always appreciate an independent point of view, even if it is wrong. Ok, ok, but seriously again, I’m not talking about the criticism of a judge in a competition. I’m talking about the guidance from someone with experience in the same genre, who has discovered their own voice, and has the ability to see basic flaws in the work of someone who has not yet made that discovery.

I had that experience recently, attending yet another photography conference, where participants were asked to submit images for comment. The person who offered the critiques is someone I know and admire and who, in my view, has the infinite right to offer “coaching” to those less fortunate.

Although we all submitted images, only a few were selected for review and sadly, mine was not one of them. I had to live vicariously through others. But even that can be a good thing. Here’s why.

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What It Means to be an Expert

I’ve had the pleasure since 2014 of immersing myself in photography full-time. Prior to then, it was a hobby, indulged in only when other things didn’t demand my time. Since then, it’s been the other way around. I can honestly say that it is the one job I have had in my life that I have truly loved. It isn’t really a job, either, for the simple reason that I don’t depend on income from it to live.

You approach things differently when you love doing them. Everything about the subject fascinates you – even the mundane can have some appeal. But for me, every time I learn something new and am able to apply it, it’s better than anything else in the world (except family, friends, health and comfort, of course).

Acquiring lots of knowledge eventually labels you an “expert” and someone said that in reference to me the other day. I immediately corrected them and said I was still learning. But yes, in that particular area, I had pretty much figured it out. I stopped to think what it means to be an “expert”. The answer is interesting.

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Attending Online Photography Conferences

With the second year of Covid lockdowns and restrictions upon us, many photography professionals have turned to online delivery of presentations and workshops. Whole multi-day online conferences have emerged, bringing together talent from across the world. These professionals have innovated and adjusted, bringing what would normally involve hands-on guidance to the small screen.

As the Program Director for our local camera club, I have had two “challenges” arising from the lockdown. The first is providing meaningful events and entertainment to our club membership online. The second is finding ways to transfer knowledge when hands-on in-person options don’t exist. These new photography conferences would seem to serve both purposes amazingly well. Or do they?

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How Many Lenses are Enough?

A bit of a different approach this week. Instead of a written blog, a video blog or vlog.

Many of us analyse, assess and re-assess the decision about which camera to buy. Not sure we apply the same level of introspection to lenses. Yet some lenses can cost as much and more than the camera body they are attached to.

I realized recently that my lens collection needed a thorough look. Some of the factors I considered at the time of purchase have changed or are no longer relevant. Especially true as you get older.

This vlog is about my introspective look through my lenses. And the decisions that resulted. Let me know if you find this helpful and I’ll do more of these types of introspective looks in the future.

Also, I would really appreciate it if you would consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. It is free to do so, although it requires a Google account. My goal is 100 subscribers, after which time our friends at Google will allow me to configure the channel exactly as would like. I guess that’s an incentive to try harder when starting out. I won’t bother you for anything else. Promise.

Too Noisy? – Adjusting the “Volume”

One of the areas that frustrates me in photography is adjusting a photograph that is “noisy”.  Even with dedicated tools, I find it hard to make any meaningful improvement in the quality of the photographs I adjust.  My noisy photographs seem destined to be noisy.  When I adjust the sliders, the edges I want to be crisp and clear are often muted, while the remainder seems unaffected.  Not at all the outcome I want.

shutterstock_105461507Even more baffling is sharpening.  Related to but opposite in intent to managing noise, applying sharpening leaves me even more puzzled, since I often see little to no change in my photograph.  And then there’s import sharpening vs. creative sharpening vs. export sharpening.  Sharpening for screen vs. sharpening for print.

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