Sunday, January 27, 2013

Links: Getting your Inspiration On!

Its been a while since I've made a post of just links.  It seems there are tons of interesting articles and "how-to's" on the net these days regarding photography, but over the last few days I've seen a few that really made me think so I thought I'd share these...

In no particular order, here we go!

You can't be a photographer and not recognize the authority and quality of work National Geographic has produced in photographic terms over the years.  To see the Best of 2012 from NG, check out the vid below...

This link is to a gallery of photos taken by William Strode for an environmental look around the Ohio River near Louisville Kentucky in the 70s.  Strode was a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who had clients such as National Geographic, Time, Life, Sports Illustrated and many others.  I think what's interesting in these photos, is his compositional skill, not to mention the 70s film quality.

This next link is a gallery of photos taken by photographer Brandon Stanton.  Its a series of street photography (mostly portraits) in various locations in Iran.  I think its really interesting in looking that the folks in these photos don't seem any different than our own neighbors and what's really cool, is how nicely everyone treated the photographer while he was there.  Cool stuff!

Regardless whether or not you're a fan of the current U.S. administration, you have to appreciate the skill and candidness photographer Pete Souza (the official White House Photographer) brings to the table.  His eye for composition is probably second to none and he has recorded the life of a presidency perhaps better than any other photographer before him.  I also think that this is in part due to President Obama's willingness to have a staff photographer around at all times, even those that are less than flattering.  Check out this gallery of Pete's personal favorites from 2012.  Also, if you're a Souza fan, check out this documentary about him done by PBS.  Its a great look at what a White House photographer goes through on a daily basis.

Next, check out this quick piece about Edwin Land, the genius behind the success of Polaroid.  Land was a scientist, inventor and a voracious business man that really struggled to put Polaroid on the map.  Its interesting to see what makes men like this tick.  If you're wanting to know more, check out this latest book by Christopher Bonanos.  Its a good look at the man behind the power of Polaroid cameras.

Last but not least, another cool book to add to the shelf is "Camera:  A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital".  This book takes a look at the history of photography from the camera perspective.  If you're a photographer and a history buff, this book will curl your toes!  Many of the cameras in the book (if not all) are from the George Eastman House collection and really give a cool insight in to the progression of the modern camera.  I just picked this book up, and so far I totally love it!

Hope you enjoy this stuff and gives you some inspiration for a lazy, Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Having a BALL(head)!!

Induro BHD2 Ballhead

Maybe I'm late to the game on this one, but if you have a tripod and aren't using a ballhead, you really should be!

I'm going to have to admit, I am not a tripod user... at least most of the time I'm not.  I'm a people shooter and I feel that using a tripod (similar to using fixed focal length lenses) really prohibits my creativity and flexibility when working.  That being said though, there are definitely times when I must agree, they (both) are completely necessary.

I tend to use tripods when shooting product photography because its easier for me to set up the shoot, then make minor, incremental adjustments with the positioning of the camera when its on a tripod.  When you're hand holding in this instance, its hard to get repeatability, which is something that makes shooting products, much easier imho.

Also, I almost always use a tripod when shooting landscapes, especially when using longer shutter speeds.  In good, bright light you can usually get away with hand holding, but again if you're looking for subtle changes, a tripod is definitely the way to go.

Now that being said, for years I have used a Manfrotto 5-way panhead tripod head.  It has served its purpose and seen some serious use, but after having this type of head for some time I have honestly come to loathe it.  I'm sure they serve their purposes, but this has to be the most non-easy to use tripod head on the market.  It has three different handles to pan and tilt the head in multiple directions, and while you can get your camera in the position you want (except 180 degrees straight up) it is a royal pain in the caboose to do it.  You literally have to adjust three different handles to get the exact position you need, and each one has to be loosened up and re-tightened down.  If you forget to lock one in (which dummy me has done numerous times) you can get really frustrated very quickly... which is usually when I start throwing out the colorful metaphors.

Lucky for me though, I must have been really good this year, because for Christmas, Jennifer, my most significant other and artist-in-residence, got me the above pictured Induro BHD2 Ballhead and I have to say, the game has changed.  I love this thing!  Its built like a tank, is extremely easy to use, will support up to almost 40 pounds and is smaller than my old head.  It literally takes one knob adjustment to position your camera however you need it and it locks in super securely!  My old head was starting to get loose where the quick connect plate connects and I could never get a secure fitting connection.  The way this head is made, that will never be an issue.

After using this only a few times, I am definitely in love, and can honestly say I will be more inclined to use my tripod more frequently now, just because I have a higher quality head which is so much easier to use.

So to re-iterate, if you have a tripod and aren't using a ballhead, then go and get one, you won't be sorry!  I just can't believe it took me so long to get one.