My Two-Legged Tripod: PhotoPro Expo 2015

Tripod
Seriously, make me an offer!

Can you think of much that is less useful than a two-legged tripod? Let’s see … Hmmmmm. How about ……? Nope, nothing coming to mind at the moment. And I arrived home yesterday afternoon from a most-informative, fun-filled, enjoyable three days at PhotoPro Expo over in Covington, KY with said two-legged tripod. But not intentionally.

I found a great battery-powered LED light at a good price from a trusted vendor while scouting out the trade show (from a vendor I have dealt with before and with whom my good friend Kendall Reeves has done business with for some 25 years now). They also had a small, bendable tripod from Fotodiox at a quite small price, so I picked that up to use with the new light. I got home and opened up the box to show my wife what a great combination it was going to make, especially for some macro shooting we have planned. That’s when I discovered my tripod only had two legs (does that make it a duopod or something like that?). I was happy to make her day … she was quite amused with my new purchase.

I wrote recently that I wasn’t very impressed with a set of Fotodiox extension tubes we had purchased for the Fuji (especially when we compared them to a set by Fuji themselves). Now I really am beginning to have my doubts about their products – I mean, a TWO-legged tripod???? The new one had two legs, and there was nothing else in the small box it came in. No leg that had become detached; no indication that it ever had a third leg. C’mon, Fotodiox … you gotta be able to do better than this!

I’ll be getting together with the vendor tomorrow and getting some advice on what to do next. But I won’t be doing business again with Fotodiox, I don’t believe. In the meantime, any suggestions on what to use this one for?

I will post some more soon on the Expo itself. It really was worthwhile and helpful. And fun. PhotoPro Expo 2016 is set for February 4-8 next year (Super Bowl Weekend). Check your calendar now and begin making some time to attend. I’ll meet you there.

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More 2015 His Light Workshops: Bill Fortney And Joe McNally

Bodie-fence
Visit His Light today and think Bodie, California.

Yes, it is true … Bill Fortney and Joe McNally together at last for a His Light workshop in a most fabulous location. Think of these two photo legends leading you to the lost-in-time ghost town of Bodie, California. And on to photograph some of the oldest trees on the planet – the amazing bristlecone pines of the Eastern Sierras. Wow! Really wow!

We have shot Bodie in the past. We are excited to think about going back … then you throw in Joe McNally and the opportunity to learn some portrait lighting from the true master of the genre. The trees are a draw in and of themselves; Bodie is magnificent (you get the chance to shoot behind-the-scenes inside buildings that usually are off limits). This is a workshop that just sort of came about – it is one that is a dream shoot. I am not really sure how these two legends find time to do all the teaching and shooting that they do, but we are the lucky recipients of their generosity.

Click here to visit Bill’s site for all the glorious details. Give this new workshop some serious consideration (but don’t wait too long; spots are going to fill up quickly on this one). And … and there is another new workshop that Bill and Jim Begley have put together. It is in the incredible steam engine town of Cass, W. Va. If you love trains … heck, if you just like trains … hey, if you just love the chance for beautiful scenery and shots you won’t find anywhere else, Cass is the place to give it your best shot. I don’t know how Bill finds the time, but I am so very glad that he is able to.

Give these workshops (or any of the other 2015 His Light events) serious consideration. They are guaranteed to please, to instruct and to make you a better photographer.

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And Photos From Birdseye, Indiana

Birdseye
Click on the Birdseye building to see more photos from Saturday.

I finished the last of the photos I liked (for various reasons) from our Saturday trip through French Lick, Birdseye and Meinrad. These last images are from the (very) small town of Birdseye, Indiana. And I do mean small. Most of the town is empty storefronts bisected by a state highway. The biggest attraction was the old jail building, sitting on one of the side streets. It is used now (on the odd occasion) as a tornado shelter. Frankly, there wasn’t too much to see … but we photographers are persistent. We looked for light and form and color and texture. And there always is something to catch the eye and fuel the imagination, even if it doesn’t end up in your portfolio.

To see more photos from Birdseye click on the image at the top of this post. And if you ever find yourself wandering Southern Indiana? Birdseye is worth driving through … but not necessarily stopping.

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A Short Visit To St. Meinrad: Photos

Monte Cassino
Click on the photo from the Monte Cassino Chapel to see more photos from St. Meinrad.

Our visit last Saturday to the St. Meinrad campus was far too short. The light was fading as we looked around late in the afternoon (the days still are rather short). It was obvious that it is a beautiful, impressive place. It also is a rather large campus, one that calls out for a return trip of exploration and discovery. And that will be a trip we already are looking forward to.

If you would like to learn a bit more about St. Meinrad and its mission, just click here.

And if you would like to see more photos from last Saturday, click on the image from the Monte Cassino Chapel at the top of this post.

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French Lick Train Cars: More Photos

Number 8

Click on old number 8 to see more photos from French Lick.

Last night I had a bit of time to process some photos from our Saturday photo trip. One of the (unscheduled) stops was in French Lick, where a few old railroad cars caught our collective eyes as we drove through town. We worked the exteriors in some fairly harsh light, and we were pleased to later find a way inside a mail car. It made for some interesting shooting – working with and against the light that came streaming in from a lot of different directions. There was plenty to catch the eye, plenty to work on later.

Click on the image at the top of the post to see more photos from French Lick. And keep your own eyes peeled for opportunities like the ones in French Lick.

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St. Meinrad Road Trip: Photos

First car
Click on the French Lick car to see the St. Meinrad gallery of images.

Saturday our winter weather cooperated just enough for a road trip with good friends from the Bloomington Photography Club to some of the small parts of Southern Indiana. We started out early (after a fortifying breakfast, of course) and made our way south to French Lick, Birdseye, and Meinard. There was sunshine and warmer temperatures than lately, although the wind kept things far from balmy. But it was time to get out and do some shooting; our respective cameras needed the rust knocked off. And it was a most enjoyable day.

Let me say again: one of the real joys of photography is the friendships we have made. Going out for the day (or any outing) with friends has become as important (and many times more enjoyable) than the images we come home with. Saturday was one of those times.

As we started out we were headed for the St. Meinrad monastery in small town Meinrad. It is a Catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict, a seminary and school of theology. Sue and I never had visited, but our friends had. And they assured us it was worth the trip. They were so right. It is a beautiful campus, even in the winter. We were sidetracked going through French Lick by some old railroad cars, however, so we didn’t make it to Meinrad until rather late in the afternoon. We already have made plans for a return trip, this time making sure we arrive in time to do the campus justice. But the French Lick shooting was worth the time we spent there.

We met Saturday morning at 8 AM. We arrived home just before 10 PM. Sunday was filled with activities, so today’s post has one image (it was all I could get to). But I am excited about some of the other photos I have to work with; I will be posting them this week as I find time. French Lick used to have a lot of old railroad cars sitting in its abandoned switchyard. Most of them are gone now, victims of the town’s ongoing renovations (if you haven’t visited for a while, make plans for your own trip. It is worth your time, I promise). The cars that are left had some interesting features that drew us in like the proverbial moths (think photographers and peeling paint, textures and colors). We ended up spending a lot of time there, including in an old mail car that still had undelivered mail inside. Time got away from us until we realized it was way past lunch. Thankfully, the German Café has relocated to downtown French Lick; if you like real German food, make plans for a stop here on your visit to the city.

Then it was on to Birdseye (we are talking small towns here, folks). We wandered about and shot for a while, then headed on to Meinrad and the monastery. It is just beautiful there; the stone used to construct the campus is a sight in and of itself. We shot in the Monte Cassino Chapel on the grounds (gorgeous and serene), and then we drove to the main campus. The winter light ran out on us pretty quickly, and we didn’t have much time for photos. It all worked out for the best, however – a return trip is something to look forward to.

Driving, exploring, discovering. Saturday was a most enjoyable, productive day. One spent with good friends. What a joy photography can be. Life is so good!

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Fuji Extension Tubes Versus Fotodiox Pro: A Winner

X tube
My recommendation? Dance with the one that brung ya.

Yesterday we received a set of Fuji brand extension tubes (we bought ours at Adorama). Two tubes make up a set; they are the 11mm and 16mm ones. They are meant to replace a set of Fotodiox Pro tubes manufactured to fit the Fuji X-T1 (a 10mm and a 16mm). Now, why would we want to buy a set of hollow tubes with no lens glass in them to replace a set of hollow tubes that do the same thing? And pay quite a bit more in the process. I think the answer boils down to the old, “You get what you pay for.” I’ll explain a bit, and you can be the judge.

We bought the Fotodiox extension tubes because a friend had a set on his Fuji last summer (link to Amazon here). We were shooting together on an outing, and he was getting some nice shots that our 60mm macro couldn’t (sans tubes). He said he hadn’t experienced any problems with them, and he added that the price was most reasonable ($44.95 with free shipping on Amazon). We weren’t aware of any others available at that time that anyone was using, so we placed an order. With mixed results.

The extension tubes are mostly plastic, and they have a plastic-y feel. They are lightweight (which can be a good thing in the photo world), and they have a smooth, finished appearance. They promise to make all the right electrical connections to the X-T1, giving you access to all the features the camera and lenses offer. They didn’t grind against the lens when being attached, but they didn’t go together completely smoothly, either. There was a sound when you twist them into place that is noticeable. And I definitely had to add more pressure to lock them into place than I wanted to (that plastic thing, again). The two tubes can be coupled to provide even more magnification, but you have to use a bit of pressure once again to uncouple them. Overall, I would describe the overall fit and feel as adequate.

On my camera one set of the Fotodiox tubes worked as advertised. I got them on, and I got the shot. I got them off, and everything still was in one piece. On my wife’s camera and with her set of tubes, not as much luck. They went on, but there was no electrical connection going on. The camera would act as if there was no lens on; she would have to turn it on and off repeatedly to get a shot. We put my set on her camera, but she kept having the same type problem. We put her set on my camera with mixed results. Sometimes it worked just fine; sometimes it was as if there was no connection. I couldn’t find the common denominator – the reliability factor wasn’t there with either camera. Our friend had no such problems; a couple of others over on Amazon reported the troubles we had. Sometimes the things worked just fine; sometimes they didn’t. Not a rousing endorsement, even with a reasonable price.

We could tell the difference in quality with the Fuji brand (only one set this time) as soon as they came out of the box (link to Adorama here). Heavyweight, without being heavy. Solid. Metal construction instead of plastic. Electrical contacts protected inside a doubled-ringed inner circle. Ridged outer ring for a good grip when attaching and detaching the tubes. They look and feel and have the construction and finish of a Fuji lens (and they are fine, fine lenses). They look like part of a lens when you compare them to the real thing. They go on smoothly and come off smoothly. And they make perfect contacts with both our cameras. Every time. They work. If you read reviews of Fuji’s cameras and lenses you repeatedly hear about the quality that consumers appreciate (and deserve). These extension tubes are exactly the same.

Okay, here’s where the real decision points come in. The Fuji tubes are a cool $100. Each. Yeah, a considerable outlay for a couple of hollow tubes. The Fotodiox set is $45. For the set. Big difference. Really big difference. My friend has had no problem with his, and he shoots macros probably as much as the rest of us (not every day with every subject). The Fuji set is pure class, made for the X series of cameras. It shows. They just are made of better materials with a much better fit and finish. But is that really important when all you are after is the macro or closeup shot in front of you? At those price points?

For us it first is a matter of reliability. If it doesn’t do the thing you bought it to do, it is worth nothing. For us, the Fotodiox set didn’t so what we asked of it. Even if it worked on my camera I now have considerable doubts about relying on it out in the field. My wife has lost all her confidence in both Fotodiox sets. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Not good enough.

But what if they work for you (they do on my camera)? is the fit and finish factor important enough to go with the Fuji set (at a higher price point)? A lot of experienced photographers will tell you if at all possible to go check out a new camera or lens in person. Hold it; take some shots with it. How does it feel to you? Is everything balanced and finished and even appearing the way you expect? Are all the important features in place for what you do and how you do it? Make an informed decision based on the entire package. And, of course, figure in your budget. Then decide what you want and insist on versus what you will accept as your minimum standard.

My recommendation? Save your dollars and buy the set that is made for your Fuji X system camera … by the good people who made your camera. Insist on quality. Insist on absolute reliability. If you can get your hands on the Fuji set you will feel the quality. Fotodiox may work on your camera. You can try a set and send them back if they don’t. But they won’t measure up on satisfaction to the real deal. Get the Fuji brand. You won’t be disappointed.

As a postscript: we have two sets of the Fotodiox extension tubes for sale. If you want to try them I will make you a good deal. The price will be right, and you can try them free of charge first. If they work to your satisfaction, keep them. If not, send them back. No strings.

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Win An Art Wolfe Gura Bag … But Hurry

Gura
You could win the Art Wolfe model of this great Gura bag!

I don’t spend much time on the Canon Rumors page, being a Nikon (and Fuji) shooter. But I check in once in a while to see what Canon is up to, figuring that their technology sooner or later will make its way to all the other manufacturers. And when I went to that website last night I found a nice little giveaway that I want to pass on. I would really like to win this one.

Gura has been making good camera bags for a long time. Really good bags that are very popular with a lot of experienced photographers. But … those bags are also pretty expensive, making it difficult to go out and casually pick one up. Hence today’s good news: Canon Rumors and Gura are giving away an Art Wolfe Uinta camera bag … for FREE (well, to one lucky winner). It’s a nice looking bag, one any of us would be happy to own and use. And all you have to do today is visit the Canon Rumors site (here is your link) and follow Gura Gear on Facebook. Most photographers use Facebook for at least a few purposes; gaining a chance to win this bag qualifies as a good purpose for me. This offer is worth a cool $400 or so (I told you Gura gear wasn’t cheap), so that is another good reason for entering this giveaway.

A random winner will be selected on January 19th, so don’t waste a lot of time in entering. And if you do enter and don’t like the bag you win? You always could send it to a friend in Bloomington ……

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Learn Closeup Photography From Bill Fortney … And Receive A Free Book

Close up

I have a really great deal for you today. Okay, my dear friend Bill Fortney has the deal for you … but I am happy to pass on the information. Bill has been producing a new series of e-books that have been very well received by photographers of all skill levels and interests. The topics have covered the gamut of technique and gear and vision. And the newest, due to be released this Wednesday at noon, is all you ever wanted to know about closeup and macro photography. Now that genre is not an easy one; you really need to get the basics down really well in order to find any success. But this is a book designed to provide you with all you need to find that success.

And Bill is as generous as he is knowledgeable. He already has given away a large number of free books in a short period of time. And now he has a new offer for us – purchase the new closeup book and receive an additional book, Building a System for Field Use, for Free! And free is about as good as it gets in the photo world, especially anything come from a legend like Bill Fortney.

On Wednesday just go to Bill’s e-book site and you will see all the details on how to receive your free book. Just order up the closeup manual (you know you need one for your reference library), and you can add the field guide absolutely free. Thank you, Bill!

Here is a link to Bill’s book site. Check out all he has to offer, and begin building (or adding to) your own reference library.

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The Photoshop Workbook By Glyn Dewis: A New Go-To Resource

Glyn book

My dear wife surprised me on my birthday with a copy of The Photoshop Workbook, a new resource book from one of my favorite photographer/retouchers, Glyn Dewis. Glyn has long been one of the best teachers out there, having a real knack for making what is complex and difficult instead easy-to-understand and possible-to-accomplish for the rest of us (certainly including me as one of those who needs the assistance). I haved urged you repeatedly to bookmark his website and to check in regularly (here is a link to do so today). He also has a YouTube channel where he generously posts tips and tricks and techniques on a regular basis (here is a link to that valuable page). Glyn is good. And he is generous. Be sure to check out all that he has to offer.

Glyn recently published his first book on Photoshop techniques. It covers projects that show you how to tackle a composite from start to finish, ones with all the steps and all the inside information. It also has entire chapters on how to accomplish some of those more difficult Photoshop moves that we find ourselves using all the time, some of the crucial ones (think tricky selections, matching colors, and getting the lighting just right). These are the types of moves that you find yourself needing refreshers on over and over; they have to be just right each time to make your project believable. That’s where books still are so valuable – they are resources that you flip open to the section you need when you need them. I consider my shelf of resource books capital expenditures; I go back to them repeatedly, and there are no substitutes for having them there at your fingertips. This new book is one of those resources.

Another exceptional photographer/compositor is Joel Grimes. He stresses that what you have to do to be successful is ‘sell the fake’. You have to get the look just right; otherwise, your viewer will know, even if it is subconsciously, that something is off. When that happens, you lose them. Glyn will enable you to sell the fake, to make your image what it needs to be to function as a whole. And he makes it easy-to-understand while learning to do so (no easy task for many of us). Part of the book’s sub-title is “Professional” Retouching and Compositing. I put professional in quotation marks because there are tips and tips and tips out there in the ether. But what we need are the professional ones, the ones that go beyond the usual. Glyn knows how to do what needs to be done, and he knows how to let the rest of us in on the secrets.

If you want to continue your Photoshop education, if you want to elevate your Photoshop skills to the proverbial next level, Glyn can help you do just that. And the book I hold in my birthday hands is proof of that. Find the book. Buy the book (you can find it here on Amazon). Use the book. It’s that good.

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Macro Insects? Check Out This Technique From Thomas Mahan

I wrote recently that I was spending some time during this unpleasant winter weather concentrating on macro and closeup photography. I’m trying my hand at shooting insects, little dead ones. It’s rather fascinating, actually. You buy the insects or beetles that catch your eye, and they are shipped to you as dried up little skeletons. You have to re-hydrate them to put them into the position most attractive to their body shape (and your eye). Then you use all your macro techniques and skills to get the photo you have in your mind’s eye. As I said, the entire process is rather fascinating.

Usually when we photograph bugs we try to find them in the wild, dealing with jumping and running and flying and all kinds of movement, let alone the wind and the light and the weather in general. It can be difficult enough just to find the wee critters, let alone photograph them. For many of us, if not most of us, that is. My good friend Bill Fortney told me yesterday about a guy who has a whole different take on the whole macro bug thing. His name is Thomas Mahan, and his photos are incredible (to say nothing of his techniques). He has some of the worst photo techniques I’ve ever seen … but I’m having trouble arguing with success.

Click here first to check out some of Thomas’ photos. You really gotta see em to appreciate what he is producing … cause he is producing it with some equipment that is held together with string and duct tape, I think. I think he has about $20 invested in his lens and strobe … combined. And then you watch him out in the field in this YouTube video and think, “No self-respecting bug is ever going to stand still for this guy.” And, boy, am I obviously wrong!

See what I mean? Thomas is good … really good at what he does. These are some really great macro images.

Okay, several lessons for today. Like Bill Fortney always says, “Great technique beats new equipment every time.” If ever there was a demonstration of that fact, it is here. It is an artist’s vision (and patience and lots and lots of hard work) that determine a body of work. We just don’t (always) need all that fancy gear we so continually lust after to produce great photos. Second, find something that works for you, even is it’s not the usual. I don’t know if I can copy Thomas’ technique and produce what he does, but perhaps I can do some trial and error to find what does work for me. There is something to be said for some experimentation in the photo world … change can be good. And third, loving what you shoot can carry you a long, long way in the photo world. it is obvious that Thomas loves what he photographs and is enjoying himself. And I certainly could do with a bit more of that myself.

Thomas Shahan may not be your usual and everyday photographer. But that may just what we should carry about somewhere in the back of our respective minds – the journey we are on is sometimes a lot more path than highway.

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A New Blog For You To Add To Your Favorites: Casey Malone

Casey
My good friend, Casey Malone.

I have a good friend who is a fine, fine man and a fine, fine photographer. We met at a His Light workshop (I can’t tell you enough what wonderful friends you will make if you join us), and we have been fast friends since. He and his lovely wife, Linda, are the epitome of kind, warm and generous Christians – the kind of people you just are drawn to and want to spend time with. And Casey (the photographer in the family) is a really good shooter, recognized with numerous awards for his images and selected to display in several very fine institutions.

Casey has been posting photos and thoughts on our His Light Facebook page for some time now. To say that they have been well-received is an understatement. Casey has a feel for what is important in this world and in our lives. He is generous to share those thoughts and observations with the rest of us. Bill Fortney makes no apologies for writing about his beliefs and his faith. Neither does Casey, nor the rest of us at His Light Friends. I am so pleased that Casey finally has decided to begin his own website, posting his images and his words.

His first post was yesterday. You can visit his new site by clicking here (he is on Google+). I have bookmarked his site so I can check in with him on a regular basis. Be uplifted by doing the same.

Congratulations and thank you, Casey!

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Instantly Correct Exposures In Lightroom: Match Them Automatically

Pretty Presets

I ran across this Lightroom tip yesterday … it instantly caught my attention. I’ve been a Lightroom user (and fan) for a long time now, and for some reason I have never seen this one before. And unlike a lot of tips that are likely to be used rarely (if ever), this is one that has some most practical benefits. It’s easy to learn and do – remarkably simple. Check it out here today, and you will have it in your processing arsenal forever.

Let’s say you go out shooting one day and come home with some photos that don’t have the correct exposure (at least the exposure you want). But as you look through your images you do have some with the proper exposure (the one that pleases you). So you want to correct the ones you don’t like, but you don’t want to go through and correct each one separately. You don’t even want to correct one and copy the settings over to all the others. So, what to do?

I bought a small collection of presets one time from a company called Pretty Presets. They continue to send me offers, ones I am happy to peruse. And they send me a blog entry periodically with photo information of all kinds (usually centered on processing, quite naturally). Yesterday’s email contained this neat little Lightroom tip on instantly matching exposures (correcting the one you aren’t happy with by matching it to one you do). Folks, it works!

I tried it on a bunch of images that I had bracketed for HDR purposes, all kinds of photos. You select the one you like, then select the one you want to correct (so both are now selected at the same time). Make sure the one you like is the first one selected (the ‘most’ selected). Then you go up to Settings and scroll down to Match Total Exposures. Voila! That’s it! It works.

I have to send you over to Pretty Presets for the entire article (click here a the link to the short article). They explain it and illustrate it completely (and well). I have never seen or read this particular tip before. So thank you, Pretty Presets! I’m keeping this one safely tucked away in my bag of Lightroom tools.

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2014 Best Photos: Richard Siggins And Matt Kloskowski

Siggins
My friend Richard Siggins and his lovely wife, June.

The end of 2014/beginning of 2015 is just the right time to see what we accomplished last year, photo-wise. I’ve been looking back at my images, and I was thinking about posting sort of a best-of-the-best gallery. Then I saw my friend Richard Siggins had already done that. And that yesterday another friend, Matt Kloskowski, had done the same. So much for my plans … after seeing their photos I am putting my images back on the shelf. Now, I still may make up a Lightroom collection of the images I like best from last year – I’m just not sure I’m going to share them here. No hard feelings; no competition going on. I just am content to sit back and admire what my friends have done. And I hope you will join me.

Click here to visit with Richard Siggins. Richard’s work covers a variety of subjects and looks. He has an eye for color and composition, always leaving me emotionally touched by what I see (something we all seek to accomplish). He is a true artist.

And Matt? He has really concentrated the past couple of years on shooting landscapes (what he decided he loved the most and wanted to be the best at). And the results of that concentration and effort are on display from last year. He is decidedly modest in describing his work from 2014. but it is good … really good. Click here to see what I mean. Matt is a great example of setting photo goals and working hard to meet those goals. And he serves all of us well by showing that each of us can do the same.

We all should spend some time examining the work of other photographers, those we admire. What is it that catches and holds your eye? What is it that you see in an image that may be lacking in our own? Find a few photographers this year that you really admire and then follow them throughout 2015. See if their work gives you some ideas and some inspiration for your own shooting. The two men above? They definitely are on my list for 2015.

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Your 2015 Photo Basics: Joel Grimes On using A Tripod. Bill Fortney On Closeups.

One of my general photo goals for 2015 is to study more, learn more. Combine that with perfect practice and more shooting for a chance at better photos (at least that is my plan). And a part of my personal learning is to make sure I have the basics down pat (remember – great technique beats new equipment every time). So, when I ran across this bit of basic info from Joel Grimes I made sure to pay attention. It’s a simple little piece of advice: shoot off a good tripod. All the time (or at least most of the time).

Now, good tripods (unfortunately) are not inexpensive. But that cruel fact of life is somewhat offset by the news that a good tripod should last you just about a lifetime of shooting. Think of it as a capital investment, one that will pay dividends right now – and on into the future. But don’t take my word for it … watch this short video and learn from a very respected shooter/instructor, Joel Grimes. He has a wealth of experience in photography of all kinds; he has a style that has moved him into the upper echelons of commercial shooters; he has access to any equipment that will make him a better photographer. And he almost always is shooting off a tripod.

This is basic stuff. But bear with me and watch and listen today:

Joel is good, as in capital GOOD. And he makes sure that he gets the best shot possible each time out by paying attention to the basics. Get yourself a good tripod and use it! Practice perfectly to shoot perfectly. Most of the individual parts of making a great photo aren’t rocket science … it is putting all the parts together perfectly each time that is difficult. Just remember, it starts with the basics. Today … a good tripod. Tomorrow … the world!

And shooting off a tripod leads right into my project for these cold winter months. I am concentrating right now on shooting macros and closeups. If ever Joel Grimes’ advice was necessary for a type of shooting, it would be macros. This is a style of shooting in which technique is absolutely critical. It’s basic stuff, once again. But you need to learn it, and you need to do it. For more on that I turn to my dear friend and mentor, Bill Fortney. Bill has a couple of courses over on KelbyOne on closeup photography, courses that I am going back to re-watch. And that leads to a final point for today – if you don’t have a subscription to KelbyOne and all its varied courses, consider very seriously doing so right now. It is a great place for learning, and learning is a key to making better images. Check it out here, and while you are there, check out all of Bill’s courses. It would be a great start to your 2015 year.

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