Getting G.A.S. and Gear Change

Since my son turned one I honestly have not picked up my camera as much as I should have been to keep up with my photography learning. Many things have seemed to get in the way but during this time I began to notice that I’ve started falling into the G.A.S. trap that many photographers happen to do.

What is G.A.S?

Well besides being something eating beans may give you, in photography circles it is known as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”. It can be triggered by many things but usually comes from seeing other photographer’s work and knowing they use “better” or “more expensive” gear than you and it triggers the urge to go out and get the same gear thinking that it will improve your photography. Or for some it’s the feeling that they can’t do something with out some piece of “better” gear than they currently have. There are other definitions of G.A.S. and if you think you will never fall into the trap think again. Most all photographers fall into it, I know I did! I suggest reading the article on Olivier Duong’s Blog for how he describes G.A.S. and how he overcame it.

I think my only saving grace is that I have not spent as much on gear as others I know or read about in various forums and blogs. Most everything I have coveted for photography was still listed in one of the many wish lists I created out on various photography shopping sites.

Wish lists like what I have listed here (and these are just from Amazon!):

Photo – Gear 31 items
Photo – Books/Software 57 items
Photo – F/4+ Lenses 3 items
Photo – FF Camera 9 items
Photo – Film 6 items
Photo – Fujifilm Gear 15 items
Photo – L Primes 7 items
Photo – Non L Lenses 6 items
Photo – Tamron Lenses 3 items
Photo – Sigma Lenses 7 items
Photo – Studio Gear 28 items
Photo – TS Lenses 4 Items

That is A LOT of gear! If I were to buy all that at once I’d need a medium-sized loan…. also my wife would kill me!

One night after listening to an old interview with Zack Arias it hit me that I’ve been sitting around and learning by only reading and watching everyone else do photography while at the same time I was feeding my GAS by convincing myself that I need X gear to be as good as others I was admiring. It became time that I really focus on what I need versus what I want to have and get over this gear want.

First thing I did was rid my online accounts of all photo gear and only kept one for photo books I can use for learning and inspiration.

Next was making the decision to focus my photography on finishing my NYIP School work, doing personal photo projects, shooting events and get working on head shots/portraits part-time. Keeping what this in mind I looked at the gear I had as well as the reality of being a new father where camera gear is often not the only thing I’m carrying day-to-day and came to the decision that it is time to change my set up and shed things and switch to Fuji system from Canon.

You maybe thinking though, “Jason, why get new gear? Why not use what you have now? Are you not just feeding your GAS but spending more money?”

There are a few answers but I want to focus on the two main reasons for me.

First is that I got tired of carrying a big DSLR around to family and non-family events. While my 60D is not the largest camera in the world it’s still weighs a lot when you start carrying it all day everyday. Also I am currently recovering from back surgery #3 and have another baby coming in the month that rhymes with soon this year. I wanted to move to something smaller that gave me the same or better image quality and allowed me to carry it around without needing a large camera bag.

Second was the cost of good fast lenses. For what you spend on one of Canon’s L Glass lenses I can get several amazing lenses from Fuji for my shooting style without loss of quality. Bonus is as a parent this means more money for the kiddo’s college fund and family savings which makes my wife happy.

About a month ago I traded in my Canon gear and now have in my kit the following Fuji gear:

  • X100T for day-to-day shooting and personal projects
  • X-T1 body with 10-24mm, 35mm, 56mm, and 50-140mm lenses for everything the X100T doesn’t cover.

Since then I’ve been working with my Fuji kit and I am very happy with this change. The X100T has gotten back out to shoot more because it’s easy to grab it and go on a daily basis. When I need something more I grab the XT-1 and lenses and even that is a lot lighter that my Canon kit was. So my back is thanking me as well. This in turn has refocused me to work on my NYIP schoolwork and get going on finishing it.

Additionally my G.A.S. is pretty much gone now and I feel motivated to get better at shooting with what I have. Of course I still get excited at some nice pieces of gear here and there but I no longer feel like I will need it now to be a better photographer. I know I can now wait and max out the capabilities of my current gear before moving up to the next level instead rushing to it and waiting money and getting frustrated.

It honestly has been a great feeling to be motivated again to shoot, work on projects and get back into completing my NYIP Course.

Thanks for reading.

Jason

My advise for when looking to buy a new camera

Due to the rapid pace of technology you can now get great images from many cameras that will not break the bank or on a simple budget.

The first thing before you start your search is to ask yourself what do you want to shoot specifically? If you are unsure or can’t make up your mind go and take a look at what you have shot most of the time in the past. This will help you determine the camera that you should purchase.

Also ask yourself some truthful questions: Are you buying that 5DIII to impress yourself or others? Do you really need the functionality the 5DIII offers over a different camera? Now days the argument between crop and full frame sensor is negligible. The difference starts when you jump to medium format and larger. If you need more proof of this statement I suggest you watch the following Clip from Zack Arias: http://youtu.be/PHYidejT3KY

Also the days of being a generalist are over. To make it now and make any money to help pay for gear you will need to pick something to specialize in and be the best you can at it. Once you have that down and make money then worry about other types of photography. This means spend your money where you will make the most money with your skills.

Here are some suggestions based on specialty:

  • If you want to do wildlife and/or sports then go with Canon. The 7D and L lenses will be the best you can get until you afford a 1D body.
  • If you are going to do landscapes and portraiture work then Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and Fuji will do all that very well.
  • If you are going to do any street photography or photojournalism then go with Fuji or Olympus.

Make sure you go into your local camera store and pick up the gear and feel it in your hands too. You need to be comfortable with the  camera too. For example, if you are traveling a lot and buy a large DLSR and you have back problems (like me) then you are going to hate carrying the weight of the body or two plus several large and heavy lenses around with you. It will take away from the enjoyment of shooting.

In the end though it’s not about gear. As Ansel Adams has said, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”. This means Photography is 90% Human and 10% Camera. If you don’t have the knowledge and skills down then no camera will make your images better in the end.

Thanks for reading

Jason

Lumu Light Meter

A while back I gave money to a Kickstarter for a team developing a light meter adapter for you iPhone and Android device called Lumu.

Here is a shot of the T-Shirt and Tin the Lumu Came in:
WP_20131219_18_51_02_Pro

I am looking forward to using it this holiday season and beyond.

I do have two complaints though about the Lumu though.

The first being the little leather case it come in is a pain to close (Hope fully it will get better over time as the leather stretches a bit from use).

Second is that the Lumu team does not have a windows phone app. I love my Nokia 1020 but since I can’t use my Lumu on it I’m forced to carry a second phone which defeats the purpose of having a bought the Lumu over just getting a full sized “normal” light meter.

Thanks for reading!
Jason

Lighting Set up for Graham’s Milestone Shoots

For those that maybe curious about how I set up the shoot for Graham’s milestone pictures I created the diagram below to illustrate it. You can use this tool to create diagrams here: http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/Creator

I shoot these in our living room between all the furniture. So you do not need a big space to do this setup.

The only thing not pictured is the plaque I use to mark the month.

Thanks for reading!
Jason

Analog Exposure Meter

You may recall my post on the Sunny Sixteen Rule a while back.

Now I would like to take this a step further and share with you an Analog Exposure Meter that you can use to get a range of exposure settings you can use when deciding how to compose a shot.

The Analog Exposure Meter was created by a guy named Mathew Cole from Minnesota. There is an excellent description on the PDF on how to use it and why Matt Created it. I highly suggest reading it and using it to help you to learn exposure better.

Link to PDF

Here is mine after getting in laminated with 10mm plastic at Office Depot and drilling a hole for a brass tack to hold them together.

Thanks for reading
Jason

New lens

I bought the 60mm Macro over the weekend and it was just delivered.

Can’t wait to try it out!
I decided to go with the 60mm over the 100mm because I will mostly use it on my Son indoors and for a few product shots. My current residence does not give me the space to use the 100mm on a tabletop and my back doesn’t allow me to shoot on the floor without much pain afterwards. 
Since I don’t plan on upgrading to a Full Frame camera anytime soon I felt this was a good purchase after much review of all my options. 
I am slowly catching up on my processing of photos taken so far this year so watch for some shots from this lens!
I also picked up a remote shutter release cable and extension tubes but the tubes are going back to Amazon as I tried to save some money with getting a cheap set that almost made my new macro worthless as the adapter ring took a good ten minutes of fighting to remove from the lens!! (NOT GOOD!)
Thanks for reading!
Jason

A short note on Film vs Digital

An article out on F-Stoppers got me thinking about why I’ve recently going out to get an old fully manual film camera and my reason to shoot with it more than my digital camera lately.

I’ve chosen to use film recently because I feel it is a great tool to learn photography. There are a number of reasons why I feel this way and by all means I’m not here to tell you to do the same but I do feel it has helped me in my photo learning process and may help you too.

Here are my three reasons for using film while learning:

It slows you down: If you are buying film you only get, at most, 36 shots to a roll. You can’t just “fire away” and hope for the best like you can with digital. Also with a manual focus while walking around you have to stop and focus. Now you can say that I can also use Zone Focusing to get results as well especially when doing street photography. I do use this if I plan on capturing a person out on the street but most times I’m not out to get people but more architecture in downtown Milwaukee and Mequon/Theinsville where I walk around.

It makes you think: Now yes you do think when shooting digital but with the limited number of shots on the roll of film you will be more likely to be more discerning on how you shoot the subject. Digital will let you shoot multiple shots of the subject with ease as long as you have the memory space on the card to get various angles you want and then later pick the best of the buch. Film though as stated has a limited number of shots per roll of film. Keeping that in mind film also has a cost per roll* that comparably is much higher than digital and you tend to think about that cost and work more to get the shot right in one or two captures. You train yourself in this process to look at your chosen subject. 

* This does not including the cost to develop the film and get the images into digital format.

It teaches patience: Film does not give you the instant feedback like Digital does. You can’t know your results until the film is developed. You learn to wait for your results and you learn to take your time with setting up the shot. Sometimes as a new photographer digital allows you to rush through things a little too easy. There is the tendency to just fire away and sort it out later. Taking the first to reasons into account you learn patience and this helps you to think about composition and exposure more to get it right in one go.

As I said previously I’m not telling you that you have to run out there and grab a film camera. I’m just showing you that it is another tool you can use if needed to help your build your skills as a photographer.

Thanks for reading
Jason

Getting the best lens you can afford apply to hobbyists as well?

As a person that likes to share good advice when I see it I wanted to post a recent question with a great answer posted on one of the photography community boards I peruse.

A person asked:

Getting the best lens you can afford apply to hobbyists as well?

Thoughts? I’m looking to get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, but I am pretty new to photography and and rocking the t3i kit with kit lens, 50mm f/1.8 at the moment. Just want to splurge on something, and have heard good things such as resell value, etc.

Poster “The Solitaire” responded with a great bit of advice:

Resell value shouldn´t really be the first thing on your mind when setting out to buy such a lens.

Things I always consider are:

1) What will I use the lens for?
2) Can I get similar results for less money?
3) Am I willing to take the lens every time I take my camera?
4) How often will I have it on my camera?
5) Could it be worth it having this lens permanently on a 2nd camera?

It might be worth having a look at questions 2 and 5 first. If 2 is a definite no and 5 a definite yes, by all means order one yesterday.

If 2 is a yes and 5 a no, have a look into alternatives before spending this much cash on a piece of glass that outclasses the rest of your gear this dramatically.

If 2 and 5 are maybes, start with one and go through all the questions. Then have a look at the price and decide.

For me going through these 5 questions for every lens I owned allowed me to sell 4 lenses and keep 5.
From the 5 I take 4 wherever I go.
With those 4 lenses in my bag I am now at the point where the next level in convenience is owning another D300 body so I do not need to switch lenses as often so I can shoot more and think less.

For Canon users I would advise to try and get hold of a used 100mm f2 first. They are often not that expensive and fill up the same gap in your camera bag. Weighs less and you could spend the remaining money on other items you might need (flash, remotes, tripod, good quality bag etc.)

If at some point you find the 100mm slows you down it´s time to consider whether or not you now need that 70-200.

I hope this advice helps you next time you think you may need to pick up a new lens.

Thanks for reading.

So you want to shoot a car show?

One of my favorite people to get photography advice from had this to say in a recent DPS post:

1: Your going to be outside shooting at high noon on a sunny day. The WORST time of day to shoot EVER! The dynamic range is going to be hell for you on all those great cars.

2: GET A POLARIZER. They aren’t cheap, but it will make all the difference in the world when your shooting cars. The reflections are going to piss you off like mad. Especially that chick with the hot pink shirt on who’s reflection ruins the deadly black paint job of your favorite car.

Everyone there will be absolutely in love with the car you want to shoot and will be standing 2 inches away from it. There will be so many people in your way that if you get 1/10th of the car without a human in the way you could call yourself lucky. Shoot the whole thing when you can, but when you can’t….

SHOOT THE DETAILS.

You can’t do anything about the other people, so you’ll have to content yourself with shooting the emblems, guages, curves, wheels ect of the cars. Most people put in a lot of effort to details on their cars, take shots of those. These details are the uniqueness that will set your images apart from those with their iphones cursing the crowds. I garantee you will love the detail shots far, far more than the “whole car” shots. Shooting the details will also help reduce the problem of the extreme dynamic range.

So remember.

1: Polarizer
2: watch reflections
3: details

Good luck!

(Yes this is shamelessly stolen advice from Jason Gendreau. He rocks when it comes to giving photo advice!)

Thanks for reading
Jason

Extra Items to Keep in Your Camera Bag

Besides your camera, lenses, flashes, lens cloths, and batteries there are other items you should keep on hand and carry with you in your camera bag.

Theses extra items can come in handy when out and about. Some of these items can make the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Other items can make you a hero to the Bride and Bride’s Mother at weddings. There are other reasons to carry some or all of these items when out shooting but I will leave the reasons why up to you.

First to keep the following items all together and prevent them from going all over your bag making them hard to get you will want to get some carry cases like this one at Amazon by Eagle Creek.

Jeweler’s Screwdrivers in different sizes – Great for making sure small screws are tight as well using their smaller size to open small covers that fingers can’t get to.

Hex and Allen Keys – Your light stands and other gear sometimes uses hex bolts or bolts that require an Allen key. Even if you check your gear ahead of time once you get to a location you may need to tighten things back up.

Leatherman Multi-purpose tool – Very useful for various reasons.

Cell Phone charger – Self Explanatory

Small Flashlight – Besides using it for light painting a small flashlight comes in useful when you need to find something in your bag when dark faster.

Pen and Sharpie – Marking Items/Filling out forms such as a model release

Nail Clippers – Break a nail when trying to open a difficult latch?

Travel sewing Kit – Add in buttons, safety pins, bobby/hair pins and you can make a Bride or Bridesmaid day. Makes you look prepared for anything and score bonus points with clients.

Ear Plugs – Especially useful for wedding receptions when the DJ cranks up the volume.

Headache Tablets – Tylenol/Ibuprofen in individual packets. Shooting can be stressful and it’s good to have on hand for you or others. The reason for having them in individual packets is they are sealed and less suspicious compared to pulling out an unsealed bottle.

Band-aids – things happen having a few in case you cut yourself it’s better to have these than bleed over your equipment.

Gaffer Tape – Fix or tie together items quickly. Use it to hold color gels on your flash. Won’t leave residue on gear either.

Garbage Bags – Easy Cover for you Camera bag in the rain. Some rain covers don’t cover your bag fully and these can help. Also they make good improvised rain ponchos.

Zipper Bags (Gallon Size) – Great for keeping smaller items dry and if needed can be used as impromptu weather housing for your camera.

Spray Bottle – Great for faking rain drops on flowers or to get a controlled shiny look on models.

Thanks for reading

Jason