The Way I See It

Posts Tagged ‘opinion

FlashBus 2011 Mini Review

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FlashBus 2011

I am primarily an available-light photographer. Landscapes, nature, travel. When the light is low, my trusty tripod and remote comfort me. Shoot with a Speedlight? Only when I’m forced to – and with some scepticism and a bit of apprehension. But when I read that two of the greats of modern strobe photography were putting on a road show (and heavens!, there was going to be a stop in Seattle!), I knew I had to sign up.

If you are a photographer who spends any time at all on the Web, you can’t help but recognize the names David Hobby (the Strobist) and Joe McNally (is there anyone famous that this guy hasn’t shot?). A combined 60 years experience between the two of ‘em. More magazine and website covers than you’d ever guess.

Hobby kicked off the show. His job was to ensure that we understood the fundamentals. This accomplished, he then guided us through his techniques and thought processes. McNally had the afternoon. Lots of “let’s do it right here, right now” show-and-tell. Both masters were entertaining beyond words. But more  importantly, they taught us stuff. Very, very useful stuff.

My takeaways?

1. Lighting with Speedlights is not magic. It’s science – primarily of physics and math. It employs elements of the scientific method – experimentation, measurement, prediction, repeatability. Do it enough times with the same equipment and you, too, can get that perfect exposure. Just like Hobby and McNally.

2. Making compelling images with Speedlights – that is art. It involves vision and experience and people skills. On top of the science, heap on gobs of creativity. Then turn on the charisma and the wit and the persuasion. Anyone with a human subject and a bunch of gear can make a portrait. But to get an already-jittery soprano to calm down and even agree to make an offbeat singing-in-the-shower image – that is what makes people like Hobby and McNally seem like gods among us mere click-happy mortals.

3. Bottom line – Flashbus is about light. How to see it, use it, bend it, shape it. As photographers, the more we know about light, the better we will be at our craft. My 100 bucks were incredibly well-spent.

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Written by xinapray

March 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm

What Lens(es) Should I Buy?

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Shanghai Freeway at 60 mph

Shanghai Freeway at 60 mph

Quite regularly, friends who are moving into the DSLR/EVIL world ask this question. Here are some thoughts that I hacked out this morning…

“Regarding lenses, I think the important thing to consider is what your requirements are. If you are looking for a versatile all-in-one lens, the 18-200 might be a better choice. I use the older VR (not VR II) version and for travel and convenience, I like it a lot (it was on my camera most of the time that I was in China). The tradeoff is that it is not as sharp at the larger apertures (i.e., small f-stops) as the more specialized (more $$) lenses. But as I recall, it is just as sharp (if not more) than any of the Nikon 18-something zooms.

Alternatively, instead of an 18-something zoom, you might consider getting the 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR kit lenses. These are also plenty sharp and great value for the money.

If sharpness is the most important (within budgetary considerations), I’d go with the 16-85 + the 70-300 VR. These are the best of the consumer/prosumer lenses. I love my 70-300 and have almost bought the 16-85 a couple of times (I’m still trying to decide whether to go full frame). Plus, the extra 2 mm at the wide angle end is incredibly useful for interiors and landscapes.

As far as fast lenses go, (apart from the 50 mm f1.8), you are looking at a pretty significant investment….so it’s important to first figure out what kind of focal length you will use most often. I think that first playing with that 18-something or 16-something lens will probably help you decide. But overall, I think that you are on the right track.”

Written by xinapray

October 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

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