Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Feliz Navidad from the Phoenix Botanical Gardens

I went to the Phoenix Botanical Gardens las noches de las luminarias celebration on 20 January 2009. This was a nightime celebration that of course posed many lighting problems. Armed with my new Canon 7D and a monopod, I took a sampling of photos using the higher ISO settings of the 7D. I used anywhere from 1600 to even 6400. Of course, the higher the ISO the more grain, but I thought some of it added to the appeal of the photos. I edited about 90 percent of the shots in Adobe Lightroom. For a few of them, I went to Photoshop and used the OnOne Plug-in Suite 5 tools. One thing I learned about taking evening shots... BRING A SMALL PENLIGHT! It was nearly impossible to make any kind of change on the camera without light. I even tried holding up a luminaria to see better. The other option is to memorize the controls on your camera. No, on second thought... bring a penlight! I was smart enough to bring my Manfrotto monopod that also has little legs that pop out at the bottom. Some venues will give you a hard time if you bring in a tripod. With a monopod, you can always say HEY IT'S A WALKING STICK! They'll usually leave you alone then. One more thing.. I totally forgot to bring my remote control. It is really easy to create blur with night shots even if you are so careful you hold your breath before clicking the shutter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My New Canon 7D at the NASCAR Race

I tested my brand new Canon 7D camera recently at the Phoenix International Raceway. #2 Kurt Busch, from the University of Arizona, finished 7th.

I found the 7D a delight. It is bulkier than the Canon XSi, the camera I had before this, but it just feels like a pro camera. It also has a nice 8fps burst rate. It sounds like a machine gun! I used a Tamron 18-270mm lens and sometimes I used the Tamron 1.4x extender, too. All were 100 ISO and I used Adobe Lightroom for editing and uploading to Flickr.


Another interesting feature on the Canon 7D is the ability to take high definition video. I can switch to video mode easily on the camera and even take photos while recording video! Here is a short example of video taken during the race. Turn up your volume so you can hear the zoom.

I held off buying the Canon 7D because I didn't really need the video. I have a Canon HF200 which is a wonderful HD video camera. But how many times have you been to an event and they say cameras are ok but no video? Ha ha, the 7D takes care of that problem nicely.

I am a National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) member and got a smoking deal on shipping with the 7D from B&H.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Coyotes White Out October 10, 2009

The Phoenix Coyotes played before nearly 18,000 fans at their home opener in Glendale Saturday October 10th. Fans were dressed all in white and the event was called a White Out. Unfortunately, the 'Yotes lost to Columbus two to nothing.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

For those interested in photography, all the photos were taken with a Canon SD950 12 MP camera, one of the smaller "point and shoots." Sometimes it is easier to put one of those in your pocket and walk in the door without hassle. I edited and uploaded to flickr via Adobe Lightroom using a Jeffrey Friedl's "Export to Flickr" plugin. I also use his "Export to Zenfolio" plugin when posting photos from Lightroom to my Zenfolio site.

Upcoming... My reaction to attending NAPP's PhotoShop World in Las Vegas!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Test of the Tamron 18-270mm Lens

On Saturday September 5th, I took my new Tamron 18-270mm lens attached to my Canon XSi to Tucson, Arizona for the Arizona Wildcats vs. Central Michigan University tailgate and football game (Arizona 19, CMU 6).

Here are the photos I posted to Flickr. My review is under the photos.

First, keep in mind why anybody would by an all purpose "walking around" lens. I did not want to take all of my photo equipment to a tailgate and football game, especially since severe weather was predicted. I wanted to travel light. The Tamron 18-270mm lets you do that. I feel it does many things pretty well. Is it an excellent portrait lens? Of course not. Is it a great telephoto? Hey, not to bad. For the convenience of having such a walking around lens, you do give up f/stops. It just isn't what photographers would call the fastest glass in the world.

Was it worth the $599 (minus $70 current Tamron rebate I got via B&H Photo). Sure it is; I would do it again.

But you be the final judge. I was taking photos in a variety of conditions. Cloudy and sunny during the day; stadium lighting from a distance at night. If I were on the sidelines, I'd not have to use the full 270mm zoom and have better lighting. I'd also probably use a tripod or even monopod for more stability. As it was, I sat in the 42nd row on the 50 yard line.

I vote the Tamron 18-270mm lens a double thumbs up for convenience, performance, and price!

Jim Patterson

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

15 August 2009 at Fort Huachuca With the Wildcats

I had the pleasure of covering the Arizona Wildcats football team luncheon at Fort Huachuca, AZ and scrimmage at Buena High School in Sierra Vista Saturday 15 August.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

The issue of media access came up. The Arizona sports information director refused wildaboutazcats and me media access. He claims if he gives it to a website, then everybody will want media access. My response? Hey, it’s coverage for your program and team! Secondly, the new media is here to stay. Why should ease of entry dictate who is a legitimate news operation? Sure, anybody can start a webpage, but SO WHAT? Newspapers like the Tucson Citizen are failing all over the country. Third, legitimate former newspaper reporters like Javier Morales (who used to cover the Wildcats for the Arizona Daily Star) and Anthony Gimino (who covered the Cats for the Citizen) run wildaboutazcats. Hey, I’m as old school as it gets... I studied journalism at the University of Arizona when we used newsprint and manual typewriters and newsrooms were smoke filled. I’m old school AND I GET IT! It’s time sports information directors understand the new media. I’m more than willing to run a workshop on the new media for any sports information directors or p.r. types who are interested.
Next, what about the challenges of taking photos of a sports event? This was both inside (the luncheon) and outside (the scrimmage).

Inside challenges include choosing either available light without flash by raising the ISO level to around 800. The trade off is with that ISO, you usually have more graininess or noise in the photo. Using flash indoors may wash out some of your subjects. I tended to try both during the luncheon and then picked and choose what worked well afterwards in Adobe Lightroom.
At the scrimmage, I experimented with a small aperture size (f/22) and slower shutter speed and larger aperture size (f/5.6 or so) and faster speed. The faster speed froze action much better obviously. The slower speed gave more blur or the look of speed and motion. I also experimented with f/11 and f/16 aperture sizes. Of course, f/5.6 or lower will give you more background blur, putting more attention on what you are focusing on. As you can see, I used a variety of settings during the day. I also used a nice Manfrotto monopod to steady my Canon XSi and used a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle, a Tamron 70-300mm telephoto, and sometimes a Tamron 1.4x extender. Since I was not granted media access, I had to shoot from the crowd, which meant some of the shots were with the extender.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Product Review: "Noise Buster" by Akvis

As a photographer and Photoshop user on a Mac, I was interested in trying out Noise Buster from Akvis Software. Noise can be a problem when we shoot at higher ISO levels in lower light situations. Or, we use what some might consider a “soft” lens. This won’t completely cure all noise in a photograph, but what program will? It sure does improve photos though.

Some of the appeal of Noise Buster is it works on both Windows and Mac, it is a standalone and a plugin for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Paint Shop Pro. And it won’t break your pocket book. It costs $49 or 39 Euro. You can download it for free for ten days to give it a good test.

You can try Noise Buster now by going here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Photowalk 2009 in North Phoenix-PVCC a (HOT!) Success!

Photowalk 2009's version in North Phoenix - Paradise Valley Community College on July 18 2009 was a fun, and HOT, time. Close to a full compliment of fifty photographers joined me as we gathered at Catch 22 Sports Grill, then on to Matador Coffee to take some photos of their bean grinder operation. Then we carefully walked across Union Hills and got in the center of the Paradise Valley Community College Campus where we walked around and found interesting things to take photographs of. All this while under an extreme heat warning (115 degrees, so yes HOT).

Photowalk 2009 is a brainchild of photographer Scott Kelby. This is the second year photographers from all over the world did a photowalk. The idea behind a photowalk is to have fun, meet people, talk about photography, and did I mention have fun? I think our group accomplished that.

Click on the link and you can see more photos from the North Phoenix-PVCC Photowalk. This is the general Flickr site for the Worldwide Photowalk.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fun at the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers Workshop

I recently attended the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers workshop at the Rocky Mountain National Park (June 21 to 25, 2009). First off, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this workshop if you want to work, test yourself, and learn about outdoor photography.

One of the first things I learned was DO NOT scrimp on a good tripod. I brought a piece of junk that I got with a video camera and it was totally unsuited for nature

photography in the field. After the first night, I went online and bought a nice Manfrotto tripod and a Manfrotto monopod from B&H.

Tripods are a MUST for outdoor photography. You often will shoot in low light conditions and need the stability for clear photos. Thanks to Jared Gricoskie for beating me up over that out in the field. haha. I still ended up with a few good elk photos.

The nice thing about a workshop like this is it gets you out of your comfort zone.

I was taken to places I might not have found on my own, nor would I have the motivation factor present, either.

In addition to Jared we also had the guidance of Jack Olson, a published photographer specializing in flora.

We went all over the Rocky Mountain National Park... from the valleys to way above the tree line, in the cold and snow. THAT was welcome for this desert rat (I live in Phoenix) although I have to remind you to dress warmly if you go on this workshop.

I posted photos at my website. Just click on "my photo gallery" and "my photo videos" to see my work.

Nic Showalter is the coordinator and also a darn good photographer. Contact him if you want more information on the June 2010 workshop.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 17, 2009 Photography Update

Hi, again...

Sorry I was away for so long. Lots have happened and are upcoming.

Photowalk 2009

First off, I am a leader of one of the PhotoWalks that are going on all over the world on July 18th. My Photowalk site for North Phoenix - Paradise Valley Community College is here. If you are in the Phoenix area that day, please join us. It starts at 9am and ends at 11am. Details are on that page.

My New Photography Site
I have a new photography page that you might enjoy. I had been working in Dreamweaver but even for me, a technonut, Dreamweaver is so difficult to build even the simplest of websites. You might laugh when I tell you this, but I build that first "cover" page with iWeb that runs on Macs, a part of the iLife suite. It was easy and let me get back to doing what I love and that is photography.

Photography Software

Speaking of software, I'm often asked about the software I recommend for photographers. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements for a long time and that is a good one. Plus it is cheap and runs on both PC's and Macs. I personally have Photoshop on my 24" iMac and it works great, but it is expensive and can be over the top for most users. Of course, if you take even one college course, for instance, you qualify for the hefty education discount. I use Academic Superstore for my software purchases and save a bundle. But several months ago I downloaded a trial copy of Photoshop Lightroom and within a few days bought the full version. I absolutely love it! So I think you can have a pretty powerful computerized photo lab with just Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. Heck, I do about 90% of my editing on Lightroom and only use Photoshop for the real problem photographs.

My Upcoming Adventure

June 21 I will be heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park for the 2009 Outdoor Writers and Photographers workshop. I am looking forward to almost a week's worth of outdoors photography. I will post photos and plan to do a movie and post that too on my photography website.

The last part of July and August will see me travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

My Past Work and Travels

If you go to my photography website, you can see what I've been up to in the last few months. In March, I was honored to be the photographer for Katrina and Greg in Scottsdale. During the first weekend in May, I went to the Friends of Arizona Highways "Rails and Trails of the Verde Valley." And, the latter part of May, I went back to Korea.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Digital Days Phoenix 21 and 22 February 2009

I attended both the Saturday 21 February and Sunday 22 February Digital Days event at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Phoenix. For both sessions there were probably in excess of eighty people of various skill levels. I talked to a few folks who had just bought their first digital camera and were afraid they’d be in over their heads. Having attended (and hosted) a prior Digital Days back in 2004 at Paradise Valley Community College with Phil Mistry I told them all to soak in day one, which was designed for beginners (but also a nice reminder for the more seasoned photographers like myself) and I’d ask them afterwards if it was worth it. The people I talked to at the end of Saturday all agreed it had been worth it.

I have a number of photography websites. The one that has many of my photos is at Shutterfly. Go there to take a look if you want, but these are my "warts and all" photos. And you can sign up for a free account. Since I brought up outside sites for photographers, one I really like is Zenfolio. I have started to create what I think is a nice professional page on Zenfolio displaying some of my favorite photographs. Yet another site I like is PhotoWorkshop. One of the nice things they have are tons of educational pages.

OK, back to Digital Days. On day one, the instructor was Leslie Fisher. She was every bit as engaging and knowledgeable as Phil Mistry. Day two, for more advanced photographers, had Leslie and brought in photographer John Omvik, who spent most of the time showing and discussing Adobe Lightroom. And, we had a live shoot with models. That was a lot of fun. Actually going in and taking photographs trying out the settings we had learned about earlier. For those that wanted, they could get critiques of their work afterwards in a non-threatening way.

What did I learn? First off, even for a guy like me who has taken photographs for a few years, it was good to get out and talk to other people and review the basics. Sometimes I admit I get lazy and use the automatic settings. But there is so much more to photography once you get out of those zones and take control of your camera. Now, I teach digital photography for PVCC (along with other business and i.t. courses) and never really thought much about Lightroom from Adobe. I had done some reviews so I was not unfamiliar with it. But John Omvik really showed it in action. OK, what is Lightroom? Lightroom is a program that does some editing but is mostly used to control workflow. Put another way, lets say you do a shoot of hundreds or thousands of photographs. And you want to find one from the morning of the third day or some other specific quality. You can “tag” photos in lightroom to make it easier to find them again quickly. You can also batch process certain things you like such as cropped for 8 x 10 or some lighting condition. Lightroom does NOT replace Photoshop, Photoshop Elements (I use PSE for Mac, by the way), or Paint Shop Pro. Lightroom competes with Apple Aperture as a workflow program and works in tandem with a Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. After John’s demonstration, I went home an ordered the academic discounted version from Academic SuperStore. If you are in education as a student or faculty member, you can also qualify for the nice discount.

My recommendation. Sony Digital Days, Popular Photography, and Tempe Camera (the local sponsor) did this right. If you are a beginner, you need the first day for sure. And you know what, go the second day too to learn about shooting models! Yes, and bring your camera. Then after the workshops, go out and read your camera manual and go to a place like Amazon and find a good book dedicated to your camera model and read about all the functions. Digital Days even published a series of great instructional videos I urge you to take a look at. Even if you are an experienced photographer, there is something here for you too. Now go out and shoot some photographs!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Digital Days Coming Back to Phoenix 21 and 22 February

Many of you may remember when PVCC hosted Digital Days a few years ago.  It was wildly successful, bringing in over 100 participants over a Saturday and Sunday.  Well, they are coming back to Phoenix February 21 and 22 AND you can enroll for a 25% discount.  

I will be there taking photos for this blog.  The code for registration is in the photo above, just click on it to see it.  Hope to see you there!

Jim Patterson