Monday, December 17, 2007

Treat Yourself

I very rarely recommend something that I have not personally tried myself.  It is a personal rule that keeps customers, friends, and relatives (not necessarily in that order) from coming back and saying ... "I can't believe you recommended that to me - it was awful."  However, there are two products that I am going to make an exception for.

The first is the sequel to the best photography book I have ever read.  It is "The Digital Photography Book Vol. 2."  Scott Kelby blew me away with the simplicity and yet effectiveness of his first book and tough I have gotten a lot out of his Lightroom and Photoshop books - there was something different about this one.  He has such a unique approach to teaching photographic technique that I appeals to all skill levels.  I have recommended vol. 1 to hundreds of customers at Best Buy when I was working in the Camera department and every single response I have heard has been - "thank you, has made me enjoy my camera more."  Now understand that most these people are not photographers - but the book blessed them with the ability to enjoy the use of their SLR in a way that they would have missed without it.  On the flip side - I have also recommended it to several advanced and semi-professional photographers who I know and they also raved about it.  The book hits people at all sill levels.  Book two picks up where the first left off.  Scott focuses a lot on using remote flashes; a capability that is built into almost all Nikon cameras without extra stuff to buy and an ability that Canon has built into most of their flashes.  Both companies are majority guilty of making it difficult to just figure out the hardware - so who is EVER going to play with it or accidentally discover the feature?  I haven't read volume 2 because it isn't out yet; however, I will be picking up a copy the day it hits the shelves.  Check it out on Amazon.

The seccond, is a book I just heard about today on Scott Kelby's Blog.  It sounds totally amazing.  Joe is one of the best instructors out there and I am super stoked to have heard about the book and you can bet I will be picking it up the minute it arrives at my local book store.  I'm not going to go into detail about the book here - instead read Scott's thoughts over on his blog for info on the book.

You probably can't get either for christmas because they are going to be out till late december/early January; however, when you are looking for something to spend all that holiday cash you received - these are both great candidates.

Through The Veil

I'm always looking for ways to capture a bride's beauty in an unconventional way.  I have been trying to get this picture for the last three weddings; however,the two previous brides have either not worn a veil or not pulled it over their eyes.  Anyways, patience is a virtue - I was finally able to get my shot.  Snapped this with my Canon 20D at 1/60 f/4 with my 17-40 mm f/4L zoomed in to 40 mm ISO 200.  I applied a custom b&w conversion and tone correction in Lightroom and applied a bit of sharpening and corner vignetting to finish off the effect.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is the Grass Greener or more Saturated?

Everyone knows the saying "The Grass is always greener on the other side."  We always look outside our current situation and see on that from the outside appears to be better than the one we claim as our own.  Over the past few weeks photographers and gear junkies (can be the same person, but not always) have been drooling over Nikon's dynamic duo the D3 and D300.  Most are focusing on the D300 because let's face it - the D3 is so way out there on price that if one is blessed to be able to afford one, that individual is probably heavily invested in glass on one side of the argument or the other so the D3 is not worth the time as a distraction.  However, for working photographers like myself who still hold a day job and work professionally on the side - the D300 is so hard to ignore.

To truly understand my predicament one must get the back story.  In the late 90's when I was in High School, I worked as an assistant in a local photography studio Bryn-Alan Photography.  As a youth I was surrounded by photographers using Nikon equipment.  It simply made sense to purchase a nikon camera when I had saved for a bit.  My first camera of my own was a Nikon N90s with a Sigma 28-200 mm lens.  It was a great combo for a young photographer - The camera was a workhorse.  After High School I left the studio to go to college and while in college I didn't really take that many photos because let's face it ... it is tough to go from free film and processing to paying for it, 'nuf said.  I ended up selling the camera for my now wife's engagement ring.  Ok, you can take your moment to say "awe" and the wake up to the reality that I wasn't using the camera because I couldn't afford to use the camera and Film was quickly loosing its market value.  Two years ago I borrowed some Canon gear from a family member to photograph a friend's wedding and was hooked again.  After that, I began the research.  Long story ... less long, I did tons of image tests myself and decided that the Canon 20D or 30D would give me better low light/high ISO images than the Nikon D200.  I loved (and still do) the feel of the D200 - much better feeling camera.  However, I went with the images because that is what really matters.  Now enter the D300 - they have addressed several D200 issues; however, the one I care about is noise.  So, now I look at my 20D and the L glass I have purchased for it plus all the camera accessories and MAN the grass looks greener.  However, when I think of all the money I would lose switching over at this junction in the road ... I just really want to break down into the fetal position on the floor.

I guess the real issue is that a once Nikon shooter switched over to Canon and now wishes he had stood his ground and hung on to the Nikon platform.  However, now that I know I am a Canon shooter - I can turn that frustration into fanboyism for Canon, hiding my pain in insult and nitpicking .... yeah that will NEVER happen.  I am a Canon shooter who was once a Nikon shooter.  I would encourage anyone reading this (if there is anyone reading this) to realize that Nikon and Canon are competitors - Nikon releases in response to Canon and Canon returns the favor as well.  Nikon is currently king of the image-to-noise ratio hill; however, I am sure canon will respond with something in like kind with it's rumored 5D replacement ... or perhaps they won't.  Any way you slice it ... the battle goes on. 

Thursday, December 6, 2007

DUDE! Best Buy's Gettin' DELL

So, there are so many things that I never expected to see.  However, I guess it makes sense.  As we all gathered around the yellow dot (that's where we meet at Best Buy before we open for a team meeting and pep talk) when our GM made the announcement.  By December 30th Best Buy will be carrying Dell.  Not just the medium range units Wal-Mart carries ... NOPE  XPS systems.  The company will carry an assortment of standard configurations of the XPS and lower lines.  HOWEVER, Best Buy will also offer Build-To-Order items.  Not sure how they will implement that though their current ordering system - but I am sure people way smarter than me will have it figured out by launch.  So now when you you walk into Best Buy you have:


Are there any missing here?  I can't find one.  This is HUGE.  I know tons of photographers who rely on Dell's XPS laptops to manage and edit their photos on the road and I can't wait to set them along side my Apple laptops to give customers the ULTIMATE selection.  That's all I have for today - see ya later.