December 26, 2008

Who says you cant take it with you?

Posted in Commentary at 7:46 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

I went to Ireland a few months back using a combo backpack, photobag and laptop carrier. I bought a Tamrac Adventure 9 combo unit and while it fit the MBP, the D80, 18-135 lens, flash, gels, card readers, various AC adapters and whatnot, it had a fatal flaw. After wearing the stupid pack through a couple of airports for several hours, the straps were cutting off the circulation to my arms by digging into the arm right where it joins the chest. That meant I had to carry it sideways or by the handle which really defeated the whole point of straps. It did fit under the seat on the airliner.

But since then I have found out about a Mountainsmith pack called “Parallax“ which one of my fav photographers just raves about. You can read it here at FlyingwithFish.

Now, the good news is that this same pack is on sale at Sierra Trading for about 70 percent off from the normal price. That makes it about 80 bucks and change. Spend 100 dollars as a new customer and get another 10% off which means I got the pack and a new watch for cheap.

Merry christmas to me was a couple of used lens off eBay. A Nikon 12-24mm F4 and a 17-55 F/2.8 Nikon rounded out my treats to myself. Both of these cost me less than either one new if you added in the sales tax. I also got a couple of 10% off eBay coupons so the prices were very good indeed. I have to say while I am a HUGE fan of my 100 dollar 50mm VR lens, the 12-24mm is soooooo much sharper overall. There is something to be said about using a heavy piece of glasses (or pieces). I have to say I was surprised at the difference. Another photographer pointed out in a post that while VR is nice, when you shoot in low light, you are shooting the VR wide open which is it’s worst for sharpness. The F/2.8 on the other hand, shooting at F4 which is the equivalent of the VR, puts you within spitting distance of the sharpest focus of the lens. So VR is really not buying you any sharpness but costing you sharpness. It can buy other things but when everything is equal, the hunk of glass will be sharper.

My bro kicked in for a D80-90 battery pack so I’m for all intents and purposes kited up to shoot weddings now. Now I just need to get some practice under my belt. I have been watching and reading tutorials on wedding shooting and posing so I’m getting the general ideas in place.

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December 19, 2008

New Year – New Beginings

Posted in Commentary at 10:00 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

So some of you know that I am making the move from amateur to a more professional photographer, even if it’s part time for a long while. I managed to kick it off with a cool shoot with Johnny Rockets to do a series of portraits with their newest director, Joe Theismann, from the “Skins”. Yep, that one, with the leg going in the wrong direction on national TV during a game. So this gig ended up with about 10 delivered images out of about 150 taken. All were “strobist” style, ie, I used a pair of SB800s plus daylight. I shot this with a rented 17-55mm F2.8 and my D80. This combo worked really well inside the stores plus the outside. I ended with a half day rate plus some to do the basic post production touch ups.

So for the new year, I promised myself to start to shoot weddings. Pain and suffering will be my lot in life for a while I’m sure but to that end, I bought a new D90 (love it!!!) and a pair of used lenses from eBay. A 17-55mm F/2.8 and a 12-24mm F/2.8, both Nikon glass. Between the depressed prices and some coupons from eBay, I managed to get both lenses for the same price (roughly) as getting two new third party lenses like Tokina or Tamron.

Now I’m shopping around for “rent a brides” to practice shooting brides and grooms. I am serious thinking about shadowing a few weddings at the local church to get in some practice.

I have also been working with Photoshop to expand my skills a bit and this is what I came up with. My first “out of border” or “out of bounds” image. I had Amanda get her picture taken holding a cup of coffee for part of our Xmas card and I thought it might make a good image to try this one.

amanda-xmas-cup-oob.jpg