Tag: prime lens


I was clicking away some pinata-punishing photos at a birthday party for a friend when I heard a disturbing sound from my camera. Thinking the shutter may have folded, I figured I was holding a fancy paperweight anyway, so I tried shooting again: the viewfinder went black. Interesting. I shot again: the viewfinder went half black. I realized my mirror had issues; not the shutter.

Moment of Dislocation
Moment of Dislocation

“I am constantly running into the problem of not having enough light,” my friend moaned in an e-mail. Join the club, dude. He asked a slew of questions related to what gear I use, or would suggest, to try to help combat that age old problem (ok…”age old” as far as photography is concerned anyway) of not enough light.

What are you using these days? I know you are very much anti-flash, which I basically agree with. But I am constantly running into the problem of not enough light. Are you mostly shooting with a 50mm f/1.8? Or are you jacking up your ISO? Or are you using a tripod? Which reminds me, my tripod recently broke, any recommendations on one (that is not in the crazy range, under $200)? Ok, so I am asking lots of questions, sorry. But one more, post production, what are you using? Lightroom? Photoshop? iPhoto?


We are back to that recurring question: what camera should I buy? I am often asked, but having recently put some work into finding the best options for a coworker who was buying a first camera setup for her son, I thought it might be helpful to share what I found and suggested. I worked quite hard to stay within a $500 budget, though some of the options below rely on used gear, and availability certainly can change quickly.

My chief aim was to avoid the kit lens which comes with all of the entry level digital SLRs. Not that they are rubbish, necessarily, but you will constantly be fighting their limited aperture, your photos will have the same feel as everybody else’s, and more than likely you will be more satisfied with a cheap, fixed-length lens with wider aperture. So, here we go…


Do you see good photo ops, but just cannot seem to make the camera capture the image like you see it? Photography is half creativity and half technique, and without a firm grasp on the technical side of how our cameras capture photographs, we can only hope our cameras take the photo we want. We all struggle with this “other half of photography”, but the more we understand and know how to put into practice, the fewer ruined photographs we will have. I will be leading a class on Wednesday nights this month (January) to learn about light, how our cameras capture it, and the limitations and creative potential unique to photography. Temple Parks & Leisure is providing this class each Wednesday in January from 5:30-7:00pm for a total cost of $45. Feel free to ask any questions you might have of me below in the comments or contact Temple…


I never could have dreamed this day would come. The only thing that would top an indian (of the American variety) walking into my day in full regalia would be moving out to the reservation and going native myself. I had seen the “Native American Dance” performance slated on the schedule for our school, but for all I know, some dude in blue jeans and a dollar store head dress was going to strut in with his cultural spiel. Just because I would beat myself if it did turn out well and I was not ready, I had to scout a potential portrait location.

An elementary school cafetorium is not exactly the most inspiring backdrop for an American Indian portrait shoot, so I took a little walk behind the school as soon as I arrived that morning. Just two weeks before, I had been day dreaming in that very grassy field, which was much more tall and Great-Plains-wavy then, what it would have been like hundreds of years ago, pre white dudes. The gentle, brown sea sparked the beginning of a (most likley ill-fated) novel idea. Long story short: there is no better, close place for the potential shoot.

Then, into my cafetorium walks Tallbear. I swooned. I recovered, helped hook up the sound system, took a few shots with some tastefully 80s colored backgrounds, pondered the possibility of wrangling them into an impromptu portrait shoot, then swooned again.


I have really fallen in love with the Ee-S focusing screen for the Canon 5D. This is not a review in the sense that I will try to cover everything, but it is in the sense that I am sharing my thoughts on Canon’s ├╝ber-accurate manual focusing screen. I have been using it almost totally in conjunction with Nikon lenses. The why will come later, but I mention it now because using it with Canon or non-Canon lenses is actually quite a different experience, and the answer to this question will make a little more sense with that information in mind.

Basically, the matte screen from Canon is made to manual focus wide aperture prime lenses. Since almost all (if not all) cameras display (in the viewfinder) at about f/2.4ish, the depth of field you see is quite different than the actual depth of field on an 85mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, or some such lens. Meaning, you never really know if you are crystal clear where you want to be crystal clear and you just have to trust that the camera focused right where you wanted it.


My wife insisted I post this. I wrote all this in e-mails the past couple days trying to help a technologically-challenged sister buy a camera for her starting-out-photo-student brother, and they are in different countries, so cannot shop together.

Here is the little background: because these suggestions are for a specific situation. The student-photographer-in-question will have access to loaner lenses through the photography department. So, one, he does not need anything more than a workable lens for himself. And two, all that glass is Canon. So, regardless of my opinions, he needs a Canon camera and should put most of the investment in the camera.

The sister almost bought a Canon 5D mark II and a lens for $2000…and that is about $1000 too cheap. Thankfully, the lens they ordered was an EF-S and would not work on the 5Dmk2, so they were able to cancel the order, which was most certainly some sort of scam anyway. Then, they started thinking about the new 7D or a 50D. And that is where we pick up the story.