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Topics - wsmith96

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Pricewatch Deals / Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II on Moofie Woot for $89.99
« on: April 08, 2014, 11:00:04 AM »
For those interested.

Scam site link removed my Admin

Abstract / Funny street signs and billboards
« on: April 03, 2014, 12:33:38 PM »
Starting off with some Thursday humor inspired by Don Haines' post in the "let's get it on" thread here: http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=19636.msg369848#msg369848.

I had some business in Austin today and on my way I always pass this billboard and it cracks me up.  Nothing artistic about this, but I do find it funny that Rob Zombie could represent me in a court of law.


Lighting / Basic home studio setup question
« on: March 29, 2014, 07:03:55 PM »
Howdy all,
  I have a question regarding a home studio setup.  I would like to take individual portraits of my family so I can learn and improve my portraiture photography skills.   I'm not looking to invest a lot of money right now (for this topic, a lot to me is over $500) and was wondering if a speedlite setup would work for me.  I've searched the forums and found that most home studio folks are using Einsteins or Alien Bees strobes, but I'm not ready to invest that much and was hoping to use the two flashes I have, and a simple background to get going.  The bad part is I'm not sure if I need anything else or not.  I know that sounds silly, but I keep going in circles so I'm seeking advice on what to start with.

My signature includes what I currently own.

I was thinking of getting two shoot through umbrellas (Westcott perhaps) and a Westcott X-Drop background with white and black backdrops.  I do not currently have the room for larger backdrops right now, and what I end up using needs to be portable as I don't have a dedicated space in my house for this.  This is where I go in circles.   Are umbrellas the right choice, or should I be looking at softboxes for my speedlights?   Are speedlights the right answer here, or is continuous lighting/strobes necessary to work with?   blah blah blah.   I was hoping that one of you portrait photographers out there could provide some guidance.   I don't want expensive, but I also don't want poor build quality.  It is also okay for me to out grow the beginner solution and replace it should this lead to continued growth as a photographer, or a side job.  For now, it's for my own achievement purposes.

Thanks a lot for all of your feedback,


Animal Kingdom / Spring Moths - Post yours
« on: March 23, 2014, 10:29:21 PM »
This "little" fella was on my house today.   I would have loved to gotten him on a better background, but I didn't want to disturb him.   I used an EF-S 60 macro for this and didn't think they turned out half bad.  It gave me a chance to try out my new tripod and head (manfrotto 055CXPRO3, Giottos MH1300 ).

Do you have some moth or butterfly pics?   Post yours :)



Software & Accessories / Has anyone here used PT Lens?
« on: March 21, 2014, 01:59:55 PM »
I ran across this software mentioned in another forum as being comparable to DXO Optics Pro for lens corrections (only) and was wondering if anyone here has used it?   If so, what are your thoughts?  The link to the software is: http://epaperpress.com/ptlens/index.html

Thanks in advance for your response,

Animal Kingdom / First real attempt at taking some bird pictures
« on: March 04, 2014, 07:59:03 PM »
I just started a wildlife photography class and had an opportunity to snap some photo's at the instructors house last weekend.  He had a few blinds built and showed us some techniques to get birds to visit feeding areas without them looking like feeding areas.

I took 52 photos and here are the five I thought were the best ones.  Let me know what you think!   I was using the instructor's 1.4 extender with my 70-200.


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Just got my hands on a 5D III for the weekend
« on: February 14, 2014, 12:02:28 AM »
This weekend should be exciting.  We're heading to my daughter's dive meet and I've taken the plunge and borrowed a 5D3 for the weekend.   Coming from a T1i, this camera is a little intimidating, but I do like the larger size - my hand actually fits on it without a battery grip.  I know - it's the small things that amaze me.  I had intentionally held off from working with a full frame due to the potential G.A.S. I know I would experience.  With my new CPS membership - I couldn't resist trying one out for this event.

It's been great to compare the two cameras against each other.   I live in a city that doesn't have a camera store anymore, and the other electronics stores pretty much are useless when it comes to higher end products, so this is a treat for me.   I now have a better understanding of what I've been reading about on this forum.  For the short time I've had with this camera, I've been amazed at how shallow the depth of field can be using my 85 1.8!

I was hoping to get the camera earlier to get more practice with it, but looks like I'll have to do some on-the-job-training as the meet starts tomorrow.  It will take some getting used to, but I'm looking forward to seeing what this camera and my 70-200 can do :)   I do have a 70-300 non-L; should I try this combination at all?  Seems silly to take to zooms, but wondered if anyone here has used the 70-300 non L on this camera and what you thought.



Pricewatch Deals / Amazon has the 50mm F1.8 II on sale for $99
« on: February 06, 2014, 08:47:18 PM »
I went kind of backwards I guess.  I started out buying expensive lenses and just bought one of these today.  I used Best Buy to price match Amazon.  So far I'm enjoying my new toy and wanted to pass along the savings to others considering buying this lens.

Happy shooting!

Photography Technique / Real Estate Photography Critique
« on: January 14, 2014, 08:17:19 PM »
One of my friends, who is a real estate agent, asked for my help this past weekend to photograph a new listing that she has.   I'm not much of a "real estate" photographer, but I told her that I would help her our free of charge for the opportunity to learn.   I'd like to ask the professional real estate photographers to provide a critique of my first attempt so I can grow as a photographer.

I made use of my T1i, 17-55, and 10-22 to take the photographs.  I also used 2 x 430EX II's and an ST-E2 to provide fill light.  Now, I received my second 430EX and ST-E2 2 days before I was to shoot this home, so I had effectively zero learning time.  My friend was good with me experimenting with my setup and understood that she wasn't getting "professional" level shots, but I thought that they were good enough for an MLS listing. 

The house on the other hand was not a very attractive house and had been vacated.  I was hoping to be able to stage the home a bit, but this is what I had to work with.   Just to give you an idea, the agent even told me that it was okay for me to not take a picture of the front of the home because of the over grown foliage and ugly front door.  Therefore, I did as she asked and skipped the front of the home.

From my first experience, here's what I learned:

1.  My tripod absolutely sucks - I got a sunpack tripod as a gift and found it to be a pain to set up and adjust.  I don't normally use my tripod for my other photography so I never really noticed it's short comings.  If I start doing this a little more, I'll change that out.  I should have at least brought my monopod, but all of my shots are hand held.

2.  I should not have messed with the speed light transmitter and just dealt with the single flash.  Now granted, I did get it to work, even around corners and I felt I did a decent job for my first time setting flashes manually, but I needed to be comfortable with that setup before I do that again.  I wasted a lot of time with on the job training.   

3.  Radio triggers are the way to go.  At work, my company replaced part of their bonus program with a points program that you could use to purchase items from an awards website.  Luckily they had some canon gear on there.  I was looking for something that I normally wouldn't buy for myself and I had my eyes set on a canon ring light.  When I went to go get it, it had been removed from the options, so I opted to get a second flash and the speedlight transmitter.  They did not have the RT options available or I would have started down that path.  Though this will work for what I intended to use it for (simple home studio for kid portraits), it's got some problems with real estate photography.  I do know that the best solution is radio triggers, but I didn't have any at the time of my appointment.

4.  Bring shoes that are water proof.  In the early morning I went out across the property to take some landscape pictures of the property (5 acres).  My shoes were soaked in 5 minutes.

5.  Expose for the windows and fill in with flash.  I thought my room shots with windows worked out okay by doing this.

6.  White balance can be a bitch when every other light in the home is soft white, bright white, fluorescent, warm white, etc.  I edited in lightroom to the best of my ability.  I think I got the pictures relatively consistent on white balance across the home, but it took me half a day in lightroom to fine tune them.

7.  when using wide angle lenses, you'd better learn perspective correction, or at least make the center lines vertical in your pictures.  I understand that tilt shift lenses work great for this, but I don't have one and wasn't going to purchase or rent one for this one time affair.   I did not do a good job on this in my post process, but will work to improve my techniques.  I ran out of time and had to deliver what I had.

8.  be better prepared to remove distracting objects, or find ways to hide them.  It's easier to hide them when there is actually something in the house. In my case, it was the lazy wiring job the folks did to distribute tv cable from their closets to the bedrooms. 

So this learning experience was invaluable to me.  I delivered the pictures to the agent on time and she showed other team members of the agency.  She said that the feedback from them was positive, so I may get additional paid work, but who knows.

If you have a moment, could you please provide some constructive criticism on my work?



Photography Technique / Free family portraits class
« on: December 28, 2013, 10:07:45 AM »
   I received and email today from "Outdoor Photographer" soliciting a free class covering family portraits.  I have not taken the online class yet, but I intend too and I wanted to share the link to the class with the CR community.   I'm sure most of you are accomplished well beyond what this class will teach, but it's free.


Here is what I can copy out of the email:

Enhance family portraits and bring out the best in your subjects with expert instruction! Join author and professional photographer Kirk Tuck in his new FREE online class Professional Family Portraits, and discover the essential skills for successful family photo sessions.   

Plus, sign up for Professional Family Portraits and you’ll also learn quick, effective strategies for transforming any room into an uncluttered studio—even a garage!

This interactive online class offers all the benefits of an in-person seminar from the convenience of your home. Every lesson is packed with invaluable information that will take your skills to the next level—no time wasted! Kirk will critique your photos and answer any questions you have, and with class access forever, you can learn at your own pace and revisit techniques before your next shoot.

From fast-moving toddlers to mature adults, you’ll learn advanced strategies of family portraiture with Kirk’s favorite techniques for lighting, posing and composition. Discover fail-proof ways to take adorable shots of even the most impatient little ones, and master shutter speed for crisp, blur-free shots.Use foam core, umbrellas and bounce flash to create ideal lighting in any setting, and explore broad and short lighting for warm, engaging portraits.

Commercial photographer Kirk Tuck has photographed many extraordinary people, from President Bill Clinton to Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger. He’s also authored several books including Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers, Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography, and Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers.
Join Kirk as he moves outdoors and guides you selecting a location and directing poses for a large group. Then, discover step-by-step post-processing strategies to remove blemishes, soften wrinkles and adjust color cast to ensure your portraits have professional polish.

Sign up for Professional Family Portraits for free, and take natural, high-quality photos that preserve precious moments in time.

Also, I'm not advertising for this site - just pass along information for a free class for the interested.

I need some advice from the CR collective here.  I've got a canon monopod 500 right now with the ball head that came with it.  I'm estimating that my camera/lens will be about 6-7 pounds (t1i with grip and 70-200mkii lens).  The canon monopod specs say it's rated for 8.5 lbs.

I've been looking at getting a quick release system and I end up going in circles.   I'm thinking that I want to get an arca compatible system, but the cost variations are huge between the different manufacturers.  I have investigated RRS, Wimberly, Desmond (amazon), and Manfrotto and have come to the conclusion that the manfrotto system may not be the best due to what appears to be a proprietary clamp system.

So, before I spin myself into analysis paralysis, what do you guys/gals use?  My budget is ~$150, but that could be stretched if needed.

Last, given what I'm putting on this monopod, should I be concerned with the stock ball head on the canon 500?



Lenses / I just ordered my new 70-200 f2.8 MkII today!
« on: September 06, 2013, 10:22:13 PM »
....and now, the delivery wait... :'(

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Thoughts on the 60D
« on: August 26, 2013, 07:23:06 PM »
For those of you who own or have owned a 60D, I'd like to know your thoughts on this camera.  I've been waiting and watching the sales for a good deal, and though I had my heart set on a 7D, it appears that with the 70D coming out that retailers are clearing their shelves of 60D's.  I'm in no hurry to purchase a body, but I do have some money to play with.  I'm waiting for refurb 70-200 II's to go on sale and that is my primary item I'm going to purchase this round.  I can squeeze in a 60D for ~$600 new at the same time I purchase my zoom even though it would be from a different store.

I mainly shoot the following:
1. Youth sports - camera doesn't have to be that fast because the kids aren't ;)
2. Family events
3. Scenery and wildlife - usually more wildlife, but if there is an interesting rock formation, etc  I'll shoot it.
4. College sports - only when I get tickets to the local game.
5. Street - I enjoy street photography, but I don't go out as often as I should.

You can see from my signature below what all I currently have.  I will get the zoom this purchase period and want to preserve the lenses I have (can't afford a complete change over right now, but the zoom is my weak point in my current kit).

But, I do have enough to get a 60D at their sale prices right now.   Could you please tell me your thoughts on this camera?   Again, I don't need to change, but it would be nice to have a camera that fits a little better in my hands and has a higher FPS than my rebel.



Animal Kingdom / Can you help me identify this bird
« on: July 30, 2013, 10:29:46 PM »
While on vacation, I came across this bird outside of Jackson, Wyoming.  Can any of you tell me what type of bird this is?



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