WHERE IS MY PACK MULE?

Lowepro 288This entry actually covers three shoots. I have my Cannon photographer’s vest (pictured in June 13th post), which makes the weight of the 3 to 5 lenses and flash seem negligible. Mainly because the weight is dispersed around my body, rather than in one place. I have a Lowepro Off Trail 1 waist pack, but it is so bulky, with my camera on a side sling strap, it is a swinging battle. Below pictured in green, is a plain old fanny pack. The spectacular side benefit is, that it is designed to hold two drink bottles. Those drink holders double as lens holders perfectly. The center section is left for filters, cleaning cloths, spare batteries, flash unit or whatever your little heart desires. Another bonus is that it doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m full of expensive camera equipment.”, that might attract the attention of less savory characters.

Fanny Pack

I decided I would shoot like a pro. I was going out to do a macro shoot. So that meant my trusty FA 200mm, my 50mm f 1.8, an assortment of close-up filters, macro extension tubes, and an HD wide-angle macro filter, I just got. Proud of my forethought and professional approach to this shoot, I went off to explore a new local park and gardens.

Almost from the moment I arrived, until the time that I left, I was presented with a plethora of unusual and interesting wildlife. These creatures screamed for a long telephoto lens, so I could capture some close-up shots. Instead I spent the bulk of the shoot with my FA 100mm prime, trying to sneak up on the all too wary critters, for that magical close-up. Either it is a case of Murphy’s Law, or I am still just miles away from being a true pro. The lens you need the most, will always be the one you do not bring.

wtitecranewaking500

 

YOU NEVER KNOW

While shooting in Central Park…. Ormond Beach, FL, not New York (unfortunately). Well maybe not. I met a mother out for a run, with her kids on tow on their two wheelers. They were making a bee line for the dock with a small bag of bread. The children’s squeals of delight, let me know that something was happening, that my camera was missing. I asked permission to benefit from their offerings to the local animal population. Expecting to see a few ducks, I made my way to the waterside, to find a mass of turtles gathering for the bread feast.

Friendly family of turtle spotters.
Friendly family of turtle spotters.

They quickly ran out of bread, but my previous lesson of paying squirrel models, union wages of bread had me prepared for this opportunity. Mom divided up the stale, whole wheat bagels, which the squirrels had “pooh-poohed”, as being below them. The turtles thought the fare was delightful, and invited friends and neighbors over to enjoy the bounty. The sound of Mom’s squeals, dwarfing those of the children’s, directed my attention to a particularly large specimen. One turtle’s shell, was between 30? to 36? inches in length. It made the other residents look like Lilliputians.

It is hard to get an idea of the size of this guy just from the head
It is hard to get an idea of the size of this guy just from the head

The lessons learned are, 1. Always bring bread to photo shoots in the park. 2. Follow the sound of squeals for interesting subjects, and 3. Friendliness goes a long way. You never know who might be your talent scout for new and interesting subjects. BTW, I promised Mom I’d Google the breeds of turtle, to see if I could determine the Godfather’s family line. My guess is Florida softshell, Apalone ferox, which can reach 100 pounds.

MUSINGS

I haven’t figured out how to make a post stay at the top, so if the order of these thoughts seems incoherent, then it probably my mind. Well, that too, but I may re-order these once I figure out how, continuity notwithstanding. I am tempted to cross the photography aspect of this blog with the health issues I’ve faced, and my ongoing recovery. There are a multitude of photography blogs out there by people who’ve forgotten more about the craft, than I will ever learn. Where I might be able to bring a different viewpoint, is from the standpoint of the older or physically challenged follower of this medium we love.

Me all decked out in Khaki. No I don't work for Geico, and it isn't 3am.
Me all decked out in Khaki. No I don’t work for Geico, and it isn’t 3am.

The overwhelming bulk of equipment I will be talking about from a camera and lens standpoint, is Pentax, because that is what I have and what I can afford. That is not to say I would turn away those free Canon and Nikon systems, they sometimes give to bloggers to review. But until they do supply me with such, or the marketing department of Olympus, Fuji, Samsung, Leica, Hasselblad, Sony, Polaroid, or anybody else I might have missed, decides to send me some goodies, we will have to stick with what I can afford. There might be a Tamron, Takumar or Sigma lens sneaking their way in, and all sorts of manufacturers of accessories are fair game. Although that isn’t as sexy as the big two camera and lens makers, this other stuff is just as crucial to our craft as air is to our bodies.

SUNRISE, SUNSET…SWIFTLY FLOW THE DAYS

If you recognize the title of this post, as the lyric refrain from a song in Fiddler on the Roof, then you are officially an old fart too. Yesterday, I decided to shoot a sunrise over the ocean. My cat’s tummy alarm went off an hour early, and sleeping with a full-grown cat sitting on your face, is impossible (as she has learned). So after feeding her, and seeing the darkness outside, I decided to do something productive. Like photograph a sunrise over the ocean. It was quarter to six, and I found that sunrise was at 6:23. Google Maps told me it was 11 minutes to a small ocean side park, so I had plenty of time to get my stuff ready, get there, set up and take the shots… Right???

 

Nice shot with solitary walker on the beach
Nice shot with solitary walker on the beach

 

My advice to you, is give yourself a bit more time, and plan it at some time that you are not still in a fog, from just waking up. I Googled, “what is the best lens to shoot a sunrise with?” Having only a minute or two to scan the responses, there were so many opinions, that trying to use the advice was useless. I packed a new (for me), Pentax 35mm autofocus lens, that on a digital camera translates to 43-306mm. My Trusty Pentax DA 18-55mm, and an FA 100mm prime. I had my little $20 Vivitar 1250 Tripod, along with a stone bag to steady it. So off I went at 3 to 5 miles over the speed limit to avoid a ticket, but still get me there in time to set up. although all of the stop lights conspired against me, I did manage to get there about four minutes before sunup.

Rest room building with sun higher on the horizon
Rest room building with sun higher on the horizon

As I set up my tripod, mounted the camera, reversed the tulip hood, I decided to use a circular polarizing filter. That was probably the smartest thing I did, for the whole shoot. Even with it, I ended up with some lens flare in some of the shots, but I got a bunch of good ones without it. I’ll post one or two small ones here in the blog, but check out the gallery for their larger, more detailed siblings. Things I didn’t do because of the rush, which I wish that I had done are: bring a shutter release, even though the tripod kept the camera steady, along with the camera’s anti-shake. A remote would have allowed for even more steady shots. I also wish that I had brought along a liquid lens cleaner. I had my special cloths, brushes, paper, but that gritty sand would have been better removed with some liquid. Things I did right, were bring plenty of extra memory cards, some liquid for me to drink (lens cleaning solution isn’t recommended to kill two birds with one stone), and a larger cloth to cover the camera on the tripod to change lenses under. That being so a minimum of sand gets into the body.

THUMBS UP

1024 Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, FL
1024 Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, FL

Yesterday, I got a late start for a photo shoot. I had planned on going to the beach for the first time in a decade or so, and an interesting thing happened. As I walked up to the beach approach at Frank Rendon Park, in Daytona Beach Shores, a middle-aged Oriental man, sized me up from head to toe, didn’t say a word, but gave me a thumbs up. Not to racially profile anyone, but I wondered if it was because I was carrying my camera the correct way (yes, there is a wrong way), I was obviously supporting the Japanese economy with all my photo gear, or because I had the guts as an old fart, to show up in knee-high black socks and hip hop shorts (You know the long ones)?

The link below is a photo blog I have been reading thoroughly. Ken Rockwell is a long time pro, sharing a lot of things he has learned along the way. It has really made me rethink my approach to photo shoots. Everything from tripods, to lenses, to what kind of equipment I need. Even for the casual shooter, there is a wealth of information here.

How to spot an amateur