Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Few Sony A7R II Test Files!

Here are a few more sample images made with the Sony A7R II camera! Most of these are straight out of the camera.  I used an in-camera creative style to create the black and white images. The lenses included the 90mm macro, 35mm 1.4, and 28mm f2.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vanguard XCENIOR 62T Bag!

My Office On Wheels

I am so excited! I needed a large bag for traveling that would hold ALL of my gear. It is a home base of sorts for all the gear that has been tucked into every nook and cranny in my home. Where did I put that lens cap? Where are all my SD cards? Oh look! Here is my white balance card I tossed on the floor after I took a goes on and on! It was time to get a bag that could do it all.

So, now I am introducing my new XCENIOR 62T bag! This is a very large bag that can double as a normal suitcase. All of the thick padded dividers are removable. My goal is to use it as both a suitcase and camera bag for quick trips that require fewer lenses and bodies,  and then pack it out with all of my gear for longer trips. 

Vanguard is the boss when it comes to tripods, so it is no surprise that they integrated a nifty tripod holder that is neatly tucked away on the lower front of the case: 
 This case is super padded and waterproof.
 The bottom has a scuff resistant protector! I can't tell you how many camera bags I have trashed because the bottom was unprotected. Small details like this mean a lot to me.
 ID Pocket
 Here I added my Vanguard VEO tripod to the handy holder. Slick!
Even the toggles are cool. If you have ever fumbled with zippers in the dark, you will know the benefit of these handy things!
 Built-In Card Holders
 This bag is full of hidden storage pockets. Again, this bag is my office on wheels.
 The laptop compartment is HUGE and well padded.
Here is a view of the case before I stuffed it full of all my Sony goodness:
 The padded EHD bag is pretty amazing too!
 ...and here is ALL of my gear packed away neatly. Amazing! It is also a huge relief to have a place for everything. :)

Lensbaby Love Blog Circle: August

Yesterday, I played with the Velvet 56 and Sweet 35. :) Please continue the circle with my friend, and crazy talented Lensbaby artist, Ana Rosenberg!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Macro Therapy: Getting Creative

In the world of photography, there are very few things that can be more relaxing than nature macro work. There is something soothing about the slow nature of macro. It is not conducive to fast shooting and quick movements. On the contrary, shooting macro often falls apart if you are not entirely present in the moment. There is a sense of magic with macro too. You never know what you are going to get from the same old location you have used dozens of times. You may discover the curl of a new leaf,  a lady bug that decides to stop in for a visit, or a flower bud just moments from opening. Macro can shine a light on the smallest areas and bring out details you would have missed without a little effort on your part. I just received my new Sony 90mm macro yesterday and was chomping at the bit to see what I could find hiding near my home.

The relaxation doesn't stop after capture. Processing the macro images can take on a life of its own. Part of the fun is to see the potential lurking within the pixels of an image. This image is an echinacea bud. It was lost among the full blooms jockeying for my attention in the small garden outside my kitchen window. The green bud was rather uninteresting at first glance. It was uniform in color and the pattern of twisting triangles covered in little hairy edges were not visible without the help of my 90mm macro.

I could see some potential there, though. My mind sorted through various options as I experimented with various effects in my processing programs. The process of finishing a macro image is always relaxing for me. I play and put it away and come back over and over. I declared the image complete with this version:

I was feeling a little 'moody', so I processed the image with a rich black and white conversion and a touch of grain. The files were smooth as butter, but my little bud was calling to me to make it feel a little more film-like. Highlights and shadows separated as I played and the resulting image both fit the subject and my mood at the time. It is a small, visual record of my day and left me feeling refreshed and relaxed. Don't forget to give macro a try if you are needing a new way to experience photography!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I love my VEO tripod!

Our family recently got the chance to explore Yellowstone National Park. We spent our days hiking and exploring while being in constant awe of the landscape and animals that crossed our path. Boiling water bubbled up from the earth and the topsoil breathed hot steam at unexpected times. You can imagine that it is most inconvenient to lug heavy gear around when navigating through crowds and treacherous landscapes, so my aim was to travel light. I knew that I wanted to bring a tripod for video and for tricky exposures, but weight is a big deal when hiking. Enter, the VEO 265BC. It folds down to just 15.4 inches, which makes it the perfect size to stuff in my backpack. May I just say that this tripod is FAST to set up and take down? Yes! The leg clips are strong, but super fast when you want to latch and unlatch them, even in very low light. :)

My gear consisted of my Sony a7r, a 16-35mm lens, and my VEO 265BC  tripod. This tripod is LIGHT. Seriously, this carbon tripod is very sturdy, but it weighs in at only 3.3lbs. This is strong enough to hold my camera on rough terrain, but light enough to throw over my shoulder and keep moving without even thinking about it. I usually stuff my tripod back into its carry bag after use, but on this trip I literally used it all. the. time. Seriously. I really didn't retract the legs and store it unless I was getting into the car! It is so light, but that doesn't mean it is weak, on the contrary, it beat my expectations! Another bonus is the padded leg that doubles as a handle. It is secure, even with wet hands! I dealt with sweaty palms, but I would imagine it would rock in snow and rain too.

The ballhead is also very secure and super easy to adjust. Ball heads can be HEAVY. Not this one. It is strong and precise, complete with level, but small enough to not weigh me down.

Here are a few shots taken using this tripod. I particularly LOVED it for creating video on the fly. I fell in love with creating cinemagraphs, which are created from short video clips.  You must use a tripod to create these! 

Here are a few of my favorite shots taken in Yellowstone National Park: