Before you make an investment in new camera equipment, it’s a good thing to know what you plan to do with it. I know it seems like there’s an obvious answer. You’re going to take pictures with it…duh! But, if you look past the obvious, you’ll realize that every time you buy a new piece of equipment, you’re also making an investment in the time it takes to learn how to use it, in the storage space it takes to carry it, and the additional add-ons you’ll need to buy so it works the way you want it to.
So before I buy new photo toys, I try to figure out how the new equipment will fit into my lifestyle. Will I use it a lot? Will it make my photography better? Can I do something similar with the equipment I already have? I know I have a limited amount of accessible space in my Roadtrek Agile motorhome, so I need to make sure I get the biggest bang for my buck.
But this story isn’t about what I would buy. It’s about you. So, take a minute and think about the subjects you really like to photograph. If you’re the type of photographer who only likes to take pictures of one thing, such as birds, or landscapes or your grandkids, you’ve got some easy, though not necessarily cheap, choices to make. But if you’re the type of photographer, like me and my wife Rochelle, who like to shoot anything and everything, your choices are much more difficult. Continue reading →
You might think two people who live in Sunny California might not know anything at all about Winter. You’d be wrong. Did you know that “Sierra Nevada” is English for “Snowy Range”? And it didn’t come by that name by accident. The Sierra Nevada range is the proud owner of several world “snow” records. Most snow in a day – 67 inches. Most snow in a single storm – 15 ½ feet. Greatest snow depth – 37 ½ feet. And being avid skiers and photographers, we’re out in the white stuff all winter long, so we’ve picked up a thing or two about shooting photographs in the snow, the rain and the cold.
The cramped closest space inside our Van-sized RV’s can make packing for winter a challenge. For clothing, I suggest using layers. Light Merino wool sweaters pack up small, resist wrinkling and are very, very warm. I like the zippered top I got from Minus 33 so much, I quickly got on line and bought another. But before you get to the sweaters, make sure to put on a warm base layer. My current favorites are the tops and bottoms in Columbia’s new Omni-Heat line. Finally, get yourself a water-proof shell. Big bulky parkas take up a lot of space in your RV and if the day warms up, you’ll start to feel like you’re wearing a sauna, not a jacket. So again, I go for small and light, from makers like Columbia or Marmot. Continue reading →
Winter is a photographer’s biggest test. And it can also be their greatest reward. If you’re up to braving the elements, you can capture some fantastic images.
Here’s a little secret about photography in the Winter. The air is clearest when it’s cold. That’s right. No murky brownish skies. No marine layer. No campfire smoke. It feels like you can see forever. And if you’re a fan of those super sharp, in focus from your feet to infinity, landscape photographs, all of that clear air will just make your day.
So, it sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just put on your waterproof boots and a parka and you’re ready to bring home the goods. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. That’s because as advanced as cameras have become, they’re nowhere near as good as the eyes in your head. The exposure meter in your camera sees snow as one great big overexposure. So when it tries to adjust for all that whiteness, the meter does what it’s supposed to do – it compensates. Unfortunately, your camera will compensate for white snow so much; you’ll end up with a dark gray photograph that will make you wish you stayed in your motorhome’s nice warm bed. Continue reading →
Last week I wrote a post titled “Digital Photography Packing List”. You might have looked at it and said to yourself, “That’s nice, but how in the heck do I fit all of that into my itty-bitty Class B?” I have to admit, it’s not easy. And if you don’t do it right, you can end up with thousands of dollars of camera gear spread out all over your floor. Trust me, this can happen. The first time we went out in the Roadtrek, I hit an unexpected speed bump and we had cameras flying everywhere. Boy, did I feel like an idiot.
So, to make sure that never happens again, I came up with a plan. And like any good plan, it relies on a lot of redundancy.
So, first of all, you need to figure out what photo gear you want to bring. That’s easy for us because we always bring it all. If you can do with less, by all means do it. Continue reading →
It’s raining here in Sonora today. Not much of a rain, it’s really more of a sprinkle. Most of the time you’d pay little attention to a few drops falling on your head. But when you’re out shooting, that little bit of rain can be a big pain in the, well you know where it hurts, don’t you? It’s especially annoying if you’re waiting for the perfect shot. You know the one, when the clouds part and the sunshine blasts through in those gorgeous rays, and maybe you even see a rainbow. But all of that gorgeousness isn’t going to mean a thing if your camera and lens are sopping wet. A year or two ago I had a great idea (Hey, a great idea every year or two isn’t bad if you add them all up) and I came up with a cool way to protect myself when I was shooting in the rain. It’s called a Tribrella, and it’s such a simple idea, you’ll wonder why you never thought of it yourself.
A Tribrella is simply one of those clamp-on umbrellas that attach to your folding camp chair. Fit it onto your tripod and your camera and you are instantly covered. How easy is that? But, you do need to find the right umbrella. Here are the requirements: Continue reading →
Whenever Rochelle and I hit the road on a photography-based trip (which is nearly every time we step out of the house) we try to figure out what photo gear we might need to bring along with us. Unfortunately, the answer is the same, every single time — Bring Everything! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I left a lens at home and found out I really needed it. Or that spare camera body. Or maybe a special filter. The thing is, you just don’t know what you’re going to find when you’re searching for photographs. You may think you’re going to get a great sunset at the beach, but you end up wanting to shoot the pelicans as they fly over your head. Photography is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is predictable. So, here’s a list of what Rochelle and I bring along on the road. How we stuff it all in the van and still have room for food and clothes is another story. Continue reading →