What lens to use?

DSCF5196At my photo club the other day a member of mine was trying to decide what lens to buy.  Lenses are an investment and take some time to consider before a purchase.  The choice was between a long lens and a macro.  He was wanting to know if he could try both of mine to figure out which he wanted to purchase.  My first thought was which one did he think he would use more and that would be the lens he should buy.

I have owned a macro lens for a few years and purchased it before I bought the 600mm.  The choice was easy for me because I love to take picture of flowers, moss and any object really.  I even took a macro photography class with Canon, which was invaluable.  However, I knew what I liked to take photos of and I would do it regularly.  The 600mm lens took longer for me to invest in because I felt I wouldn’t use it as much.  The price of a lens from Canon was equal to a decent used car for one thing.  A lens to use now and then wasn’t worth that kind of price.

The tipping point in my purchase was the words “Sale”.  Tamron was upgrading their 100-600 mm lenses and therefore a decent price drop on the lens.  Which was perfect for me, I didn’t have to break the bank for a lens I would use occasionally.  However, I would still have the option in my bag and get to take pictures of the eagles.untitled-0068-2What to consider than when making the next purchase?  Is this the camera line I am going to stay with?  Lenses are an investment and when your inventory increases it will be hard to change to a different brand.  Plus, you will have to sell all that you have to change over to the new brand and you won’t get your original investment back.  How much do you want to spend and how often do you plan on using it?  What are the reviews on the lens itself?  Is it worth the investment?  Once you answer all those questions and are pretty clear of what you want to do, buy it.

I have Canon and Fuji.  I have a nice variety of lenses for both but more for the Canon because it was the brand I started with.  The Canon remains my core equipment because of the investment I have in it and the quality of the brand.  I won’t be trading it off any time soon but the Fuji has it’s uses which was why I invested in both.  When I want something lighter to carry and adaptable I take the Fuji.  The color and the sharpness of the XT2 doesn’t disappoint and so I switch my gear around.

If you just starting out and own one camera and a few lenses experiment with what you have.  Does it meet your needs for your interests?  What really makes you want to take a photo.  The difference between landscape photography and portraits will be the lens.  The camera body can change in a brand but the lens you will have for quite some time.  The lens also improves the enjoyment of taking the photo.  The right equipment for the job will make a huge difference.




Iceland the Latest Adventure

The adventure of a trip always begins in where you want to go.  I try to check off the boxes of the places that I haven’t seen yet, this time my journey was off to Iceland and to see the northern lights.  I didn’t realize how much of an attraction it had become until I saw all the tourist like myself out and about.  The best place to get from the airport into town is by taking the bus.  If you need to go to a specific location they can transfer you to a smaller van and get you there.  You can schedule the bus to take you into town after your flight.  The Iceland airport is small and uncomplicated and easy to navigate.

I was on a photography tour and loaded in a van with 8 other people for an 8 day tour of the Island. Working with a group of strangers can have its challenges but we are all photographers with the same goal so normally works out well.  The first thing that came to mind as we motored down the road is that I thought it would be more green.  We concentrated on the south side of Iceland and the tree population is sparse.  The second thing that is apparent is the amount of tourism happening.  Large groups of people at every stop which made taking photos more difficult.  People will just walk in your shot and not even look.  Or the constant selfie obsession is apparent at each location.

The food was expensive considering I spent $15 on a grilled cheese and french fries but, everywhere I went the prices were high.  Especially, in the evening, I would spend $30 and up just for a regular meal.  Something to consider if you are on a budget.  Breakfast is included at most of the places you stay.  The offering is cold meat, some fruit, boiled eggs, cereal and coffee or tea.  I truly got tired of the same breakfast every morning.

The weather was cold in March but very bearable if you dressed in layers.  A good hat and gloves a must on this trip along with snow pants and long underwear.  Boots with good traction and some of the ice cleats  really helped to get around.

The photography, in between the barren spots, is good.  My main goal was the northern lights, which are hard to see with the naked eye.  My camera picked up the color better than I could see in the night sky.  I have pictures on my website.  Fortunately the dawn shoots aren’t too early here that you are exhausted by the end of the day.  However, we didn’t have two 12 hour days and one 15 hour day.  Northern lights need clear skies and a dark night without the lights of town.  The longer I was there the easier it became to see the lines in the sky but if you don’t know what to look for you could easily miss them.   Make sure you focus on something that you can see in the dark before you turn to focus on the lights.  Otherwise you will have a blur when you try to take your shot.

The waterfalls and Ice cave (pictured above) another great attraction to the area.  Oxarafoss, Bruarfoss, Gullfoss to name a couple.  The Glacier Lagoon with its large chunks of ice washed up on the black beach.  The contrast between water, ice and sand stunning in the evening light.  The black beach for me is such a contrast to what I am used to here in the states.  The Glaciers, with their blue colored ice contrasting against the white of the snow.  Many places to stop and see.

My best advice is to come prepared for a different atmosphere.  The architecture is very modern and the landscape rugged. I was expecting more green I guess but it was winter so it was a bit of a shock for me the barren parts.  I must admit I do prefer trees and water and beautiful beaches.  The people are friendly and the food is excellent.  The prices are high but remember you are on vacation to save for something special.

Looking beyond the emotion!

Unless you are there standing in the awe of the moment of a glorious sunrise you won’t get it.  The emotional contact to color, calm and nature as it comes up in the morning or puts itself to bed at night.  Which is why I like to let my photos sit awhile before I edit or even look at them.  I want to take the feelings away and see them as they are in the raw on the screen.  Otherwise my heart sees the picture with the emotion which blots out all the bad framing, exposure and composition.


Ireland 2016-1477

I will use my Ireland picture as an example.  I love big sky and color in my sunset but do I have the best exposure for the picture probably not.  I don’t like creamy water that much and go for more of the natural feel.  Some people will like this shot and others will not.  I can still feel the air and the evening temperature from standing in the tall grass on this spot.  I remember the people around me all trying to get their picture.  I remember wondering what it would be like to be able to see this view every day.  With every photo I remember.

So, no matter who you are and what level of photography you are at; just do it with heart and let your eyes guide you to what  makes you feel the moment.  Which is what photography is, beyond being an art,  but a way to express a single piece of time that in an instant will be gone.  Don’t try to compete with others because you can never see with there eyes or experiences.  Learn to trust who you are and what you love.  Then analyze your work to see where it can improve to best representative of what you see.

For today, inspire yourself with the beauty around you.  And share the pieces with the people who have yet thought of stepping into the world with a camera.  They love looking through your eyes.