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Feature Friday // A Gator Ate My Camera

In light of this recent blog post by Rowan, I thought you might want to see this. Nice work SanDisk, nice work. 

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Feature Friday // Joe McNally

Heard of Joe McNally? He was named as one of the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photo. That is a good thing to have on your resume.

He’s probably best known for his project Faces of Ground Zero which toured around the US in 2002. He used the world’s only life-size polaroid camera for this project. Cool huh?

His blog is pretty awesome and I found this article particularly interesting and informative to read. How about you? How much do you work for your images?











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Canon 50mm Lens

50mm Prime Lens

Other photographers frequently ask me if they should get a 50mm prime lens. The answer is yes. If you are the kind of person who just needs to be told what to do, there you have it – go buy a 50mm lens. If you need a few more reasons, keep reading.

Canon 50mm Lens

I own multiple 50mm lenses, and I never plan to be without one. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. The Plastic Fantastic is the cheapest lens I own. Nikon and Canon users can pick them up for $125.
2. At a maximum aperture of f/1.8, my Nifty Fifty is far brighter than my $2k professional lenses, giving me the ability to practically see in the dark.
3. A prime lens makes me work harder – I can’t just stand in one place and zoom. When I work harder I take better pictures, you see… it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.
4. It’s really sharp. While the 50mm f/1.8 isn’t the sharpest lens you can get, it’s a lot better than the 18-55mm lens that came with your camera. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of photos!

Bonfire shot with a Canon 50mm f/1.8

Not persuaded yet? OK… here are 3 things I do with my 50mm lens that I don’t do with any other lens:
1. Shoot the last hour of a wedding reception. It’s dark and I’m bored – I need to force myself into a new perspective and I’ve been shooting a 24-70mm lens all day.
2. Lens flipping. What is this awesomeness, you ask? Yes. I can take the lens off my camera, flip it around, hold it up to the front and take pictures. I’ll write a blog post on it sometime…
3. Lighten my load. Have you ever noticed that photo gear weighs a lot? Me too… My 50mm f/1.4 is the lightest lens I own. Replacing an L-series monster with a plastic 50 is a load off my wrist. (Now granted, there are pancake lenses out there which are even lighter, I just don’t own one.)



Which one do I get? Well, that’s a great question. Both Canon and Nikon make multiple versions of the 50mm lens. The quick answer is, get the best one you can afford. I own both the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and the 50mm f/1.4. I now shoot exclusively with the f/1.4 version, but keep the f/1.8 in case something breaks or I want to run two cameras. There is a difference in the quality of glass and the sharpness between the various 50mm lenses, but the big idea behind this post is, just get one!

Well? What do you think? Why do you think every photographer should own a 50mm lens?

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Thoughts on Instagram Terms

Thoughts on Instagram Terms

A couple weeks ago Instagram rocked the photo enthusiast world with a shocking set of terms and conditions. Thousands of people screamed loud, and the terms have been rewritten. The interesting part is that not much as really changed… the most concerning part to a photographer remains solidly in place, but I’ll come to that later. Here are the talking points I think worth noting:

Terms can be changed at any time. Pretty standard, yet annoying. They can change the rules at any stage of the game just by posting new rules on their website. They don’t even have to email you.

Content survives account deletion. If other users have shared your images they may remain on Instagram even if you delete your account. No guarantee though, whether they’ll stay or disappear.

License is non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, and worldwide. This is the biggie. The part about “transferable and sub-licensable” is not further defined, but indicates that they have the right to redistribute any image you upload. In theory, your privacy settings could limit this, but without the appropriate privacy settings, Instagram has the right to sell your photos.

Advertising can be disguised. Instagram doesn’t have to indicate that paid advertising is that, paid advertising. This means they can stick things in your stream that look like normal content but are actually paid. It also means they can potentially stick advertising up in a way that makes it look like you uploaded it so that your friends will see it. Trixy…

Royalty and Trademark Liabilities. Ever posted a photo with a Starbucks logo in the background? You’re liable for any financial damages that a court would award Starbucks. Oh, and this applies to ANY trademark, logo, or model. While the likelihood of this happening is minuscule, the reality remains that you’ve agreed to it.

Content Removal. They can remove any of your content at any time for any reason without prior notification.

Privacy. I’m not super current on privacy policies, but Instagram maintains some interesting rights. They use unique device identifiers, so essentially they can identify your specific cell phone or tablet at any time. Geographic data is available for sharing (controlled by your privacy settings). Personal information that you provide or that they collect through browser cookies is shared with third-party advertisers. Have you ever noticed how you look up a product on Amazon and all of a sudden you’re seeing ads for that same product everywhere? Yeah… Instagram does that too.


That’s the scoop! The biggest issue to me is that Instagram can sub-license my images to others without my specific consent or financial compensation. To be honest though, I don’t forsee this happening large scale, and I don’t post pictures to/through Instagram that have significant financial value. There exists the possibility that they just might like that latest image I uploaded and suddenly it’s the poster child for all of Instagram or some other product. If that happens, there’s nothing I can do about it, and not a penny will come my way. And yes. That has happened to me before.



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What Camera Should I Buy?

What camera should I buy?

What Camera Should I Buy?

This is perhaps the most common photography related question I get asked. And the answer is… it depends! However, I hope this guide will give you some direction as you pursue that perfect partner for your artistic soul.

Is it a Canon or a Nikon?

I’m not a brand basher, but I am a brand pusher. Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, Kodak, Fuji, Pentax, Ricoh, Leica all make good cameras. Great cameras in fact. But I still recommend that you get either a Canon or a Nikon. The short answer is that they are just more popular. More people have them. There are more lenses. There are more flashes. It is easier to get them repaired. It is easier to find someone on the street with the same camera to ask a quick question. There are more forums online. In short, unless you have a compelling reason to get a different brand, please buy either a Canon or a Nikon.

How much money do you have?

Cameras are expensive, and honestly, they are just the beginning. Once you get a DSLR, you’re on a train that burns money. There will always be something better, a new lens, more software, a new computer, and well… another camera. That said, I would recommend that you get the best camera you can afford within reason. The biggest thing that changes when you move from entry-level DSLR to pro-grade DSLR is the operations of the camera change. The camera gets more functions, and there are more controls that you as the user can change. What doesn’t really change is the image quality. Yes, people will argue about full-frame vs. APS-C sized sensor, and yeah, there are better sensors inside pro cameras than consumer ones, but here’s the deal… when you look at an awesome photo on someone’s website, you can’t tell what camera created the image! So, the moral of the story is, more expensive cameras make it easier for the photographer to create good images because they have more fine-tuned control over the camera itself.

How much money are you going to make?

Be realistic here… What performance level do you intend to shoot at? I had a friend who really liked snow boarding, and invested thousands of dollars in the very best gear. But he only hit the slopes once a year. Don’t be that guy. Don’t spend $10,000 on camera equipment to take happy snaps of your family around the house. Happy snaps of my family are important, I shoot them all the time… with my iPhone. Invest in your gear at the same level that you reasonably expect it to invest back into your life.

What do your friends shoot?

Not what you were expecting, I know… but it is important. Your family/friends are the people you’re going to interact with the most. If you can ask them questions, share what you know, swap lenses and flashes, and share your photographic experience together, that’s a really valuable thing. That part about swapping gear is really nice… you and your bestie can get cool, different lenses, and it’s like you got two new lenses, not one.

How does it feel?

In your hand. When you pick it up, does it fit? Could you hold it for 4 hours and still be happy? Do the buttons seem to be in the right place. Is it intuitive? Do the menus generally make sense? Every manufacturer works hard to make their cameras different. This means that they are all going to feel and operate uniquely. Make sure the camera you get is the one that makes sense to you.

When was it made?

Cameras are high-technology, which means that they get outdated really fast. Outdated in camera terms doesn’t mean that they don’t work anymore, they just are a step or two or ten behind the curve in terms of image processing standards and sensor quality. I have a couple old cameras (like… 6 years!) that I still use on occasion, but if you’re going to buy a new camera make sure that it really is new! At the time of this posting I think that the Nikon D90 and the Canon 7D are way overdue for replacement. The D90 was built on 2008 technology, but you will still find it as a “current” model for sale new in stores. Don’t do it. If you’re buying a new camera, make sure that it came out this year or last.

Just tell me what to buy!

I did. Buy a Canon or Nikon. Get one that feels good, costs a lot (but not too much!), your friends will appreciate, and that was made recently.

Canon’s naming system is confusing, you would think that the Rebel T3 and Rebel T3i would be pretty similar, but they’re not. If you’re getting a Canon Rebel, get the “i” version. It’s way better…

Now, if you’re that girl who is going to email me saying “What about the Sony Super Excess Special Model A1-the best ever? How can you ever say anything can beat the split field titanium espresso LED view optimizer?” Just buy it… I don’t care. I don’t have to use it! I will be happy with my Canon and you will enjoy your optimizer.

If you’re that guy who is going to email me asking “What about the Canon Rebel T4i? Is that a good one?” Yes. It’s good. If it’s a current model (not Nikon D90 or Canon 7D), it’s good and you should buy it.

Hope this helps!


Here are some links:

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