26 December 2009

A Letter to the Editor...

OK... not really... this is a letter i wrote to a friend to help him understand some basic camera controls... i realize that i have a number of friends getting in to the DSLR world and thought i'd post it here so i can send the info on to other people.

(if i have information not correctly written out.. please let me know! I'm a semi-self taught photography. Semi - meaning i read a lot of books and absorbed about 30% bec. i'm just that ADD... I always love constructive criticism!)
(my friend was contemplating buying a Nikon D40 vs a Nikon D60... that is where the conversation starts...)

OK... so here's another thought on the cameras. Yes... at 3:30 in the AM. had to take my pain meds and you came to mind.. go figure.

Buy the D40, bank the extra cash and get good glass because truthfully at this stage, megapix matters but not a whole lot. Sensor size is what really matters here and both are fairly decent sensors. The issue you will face will be shooting in low light situations which will require you to bump the ISO (your film speed) up to higher levels which will increase noise (pixelation or grain). To help you achieve decent pics in these areas you'll need a low fstop or aperture.

Good glass will be the only way to achieve this... which means dropping some cash on some. Anything with a 2.8fstop or lower is what you want. These lenses are pricey but worth it because all you really need is one good one and it will pay for itself when you try and get that concert shot that always was blurry before. Don't skimp on glass because when you do it will come back to haunt you. I like to stick with Nikon/Nikkor school glass because when you start dabbling in 3rd party stuff you get some iffys and it's not really worth dealing with even though they have some nice stuff out. (iffy's being cloudy glass, noisy motors, off focused elements, poor quality cut glass)

The issue you're going to find also with the D40/60 is that the auto focus is driven in the lens, not the camera which means some older lenses won't work on your body. Make sure that when you are buying glass that it is compatible with the body. If it's not, you'll end up having to hand focus.

Here's a great review on the D40. Ken's site is the place to look for anything Nikon.

Lastly, if you're just wanting a dslr for more of a glorified p&s, check out some advanced p&s because they really do make some great shots. I bought B one that i love to carry with me when i fly because it's compact and can still pull the load when i want to get a good shot. It also does video which is a BIG plus when in those situations where you just want a video camera.
Canon G10 or SX10, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K, Nikon P6000 or P90. Great p&s.

Hope that helps. Sorry i couldn't get back to you sooner!

Happy shooting!

(he asked whether or not the zoom in a lens affected aperture... and some other questions about lenses and shooting... my next response.)

Increase in range does affect the aperture. The longer the zoom the increase in aperture. So when you are at 55 it'll be like 4.5f but when you get out to 200 you're around 5.6 which is a drastic cut in light intake.

Here's the basic menege a trois when it comes to SLR photography.

[ISO (eye s oh)] - essentially your film.
The lower the number the more light required.
Ex. 200 - outside / 400-600 - Bright Inside(low outside) / Above - Dark environments

[fstop setting or aperture] - The iris/diaphragm of the lens (looks like shutters in a circle that widen or close) allows more light in.

The lower the fstop the more light coming in, the faster your shutter speed can be, creating a shallow depth of field or boke (pronounced like a bouquet of flowers) or that cool blurry texture behind a person.
The higher the fstop the less light coming in, the slower your shutter speed has to be, creating extreme detail for distant objects. Basically any landscape picture (think Ansel Adams).

[Shutter speed] - the speed at which the shutter opens and shuts. When you're reading a shutter speed setting it will range anything from Bulb" which is you push the button and then push it again to close the shutter / double digit seconds (60 30 15 10 sec.) to 1/8000 of a sec. so stupid fast.

All three of these things work together and mostly apply in non-preset options:
M - Manual - you control everything
A - Aperture priority - The camera chooses the shutter speed for you while you set the fstop
S - Shutter Priority - The camera chooses the fstop for you while you set the shutter speed
P - Program - Point and take a picture, the camera chooses the settings for you, meaning fstop and shutter speed - but different than the green box which is automatic, that does EVERYTHING from setting your ISO to firing your flash if needed.

Say you're outside taking a picture of your wifey. The sun's overhead and there's just grass behind her that you want to make all blurry looking so her face just pops. Sun = lots of light = low ISO - 200 I want a shallow depth of field so i choose a 1.8fstop and shutter speed is gonna be high because of the amount of light coming in.

Say i'm in a concert though and i want to get the killer light show. It's dark - so i need a higher ISO 800 but i'm still gonna need that lower fstop so lots of light can come in. say, 2.0 - 2.8fstop but my shutter speed still has to fire pretty slow so that the light can still come in, but fast enough to catch the guy head banging in action... has to be around 1/100 of a sec. or faster.

Say i'm taking a pic of Mt. Rushmore. It's cloudy out so the light's kinda iffy. 500 - i want to get the zit on Washington's face. i set my fstop to 22 and then adjust shutter speed to what's needed...

ISO, fstop and shutter speed play hand in hand.

So... that's your crash course in photography. Have fun shooting! I expect nothing but money shots now =P you have all my secrets!

16 December 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship

I'm in this fling right now... it's a bad one. It's an on again/off again thing and I really need to decided which way i want it to go... Blogging, you're so good to me... and bad to me!

I don't know why i get into those ruts where i just don't want to sit down and blog at all. I try often to come up with something to make me interested in writing and posting but they always backfire on me. For example, SOC shots has to make a come back... i know that it's definitely something i want to do often but haven't stopped to do it! Well.. maybe i'll do one now. But hopefully as the year comes to an end and the new one crests i will nurture this relationship!



The original - SOC shot

Bethany and Eliza original

The edit
Bethany and Eliza edit

14 September 2009

My Review of Byer Amazonas Barbados Hammock


Perfect for one, cozy for two--Amazonas Barbados is the ideal hammock for a relaxing afternoon.

Hammock Time is the best time!

jchu1080 Memphis, TN 9/14/2009


5 5

Pros: Comfortable, Quality Construction, Good Size, Easy Setup, Attractive Design

Best Uses: Relaxation, Families, Backyard

Describe Yourself: Midrange Shopper

I bought this for my wife for our second anniversary. She's always wanted a hammock and esp. so since we just purchased our first house with the perfect set of hammock trees.

I, for some reason, missed out on the fact that it didn't come with the gear I needed to start using it right away so i had to go to a near by outdoors store to buy some slap straps and carabiners to start using.

My wife and i love relaxing in this hammock for reading and taking long summer naps! Great design, extremely comfortable, easily transportable and easy to store. I highly reccomend keeping it in it's bag when not in use because the cotton is not resistant to anything.


My Review of REI Ultra Light Jacket - Men's


The spectacular Ultra Light jacket features two-way stretch ensuring great performance and an ultra-comfortable fit.

I Love Playing in the Rain...

jchu1080 Memphis, TN 9/14/2009


3 5

Gift: No

Fit: Feels true to size

Sleeve Length: Feels true to length

Chest Size: Feels true to size

Pros: Comfortable, Waterproof, Lightweight, Durable

Cons: Inadequate Protection, Doesn't Breathe

Best Uses: Hiking and Camping, Casual Wear, Wet Weather, Extreme Conditions

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

but not so much when it your jacket leaks on you.

I travel for a living and pack my bag with gear that i think i might end up using. This jacket has saved me many a time in torrential downpours and crazy storms. It's extremely compact and light, easily stored in any bag, and provides great protection.

I would have given it a 5 but it has just started to leak and like a number of other users, is not breathable at all. I sweat pretty profusely and when I'm hiking with this jacket it feels like i have saran wrap stuck to me skin. No good. Thank goodness for REI Coop. I'm taking it back for a replacement!


04 September 2009

It's Just Hard...

to see these parents be verbally abusive to each other in front of their cognitive, young kids. They will never know the damage they're doing to them and their own relationships in the future. I hope I never speak to my wife like this guy's speaking to his wife...

I think in that lays my fears about being a parent and bringing children into this world. I fear the things that I will pass on and instill in my children - my bad habits, my fears, my insecurities. Do I want to spawn carbon copies of myself? Do I want to incorporate my genetic malfunctions into another generation?

What will having children bring out in me that I don't know is inside of me...the father inside.

01 September 2009

SOC Shots

I've decided to start a series of posts called "SOC Shots." SOC Shots aren't going to be pictures of smelly accessories that we put on to help give our feet an extra morale boost but rather these shots are going to be pictures straight out of the camera - SOC!

I wanted to start these, hopefully, frequent posts so that I can become a better photographer. Most photographers take their shots, process them in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, give them a polished look and post/print them which turns out amazing photographs and award winning art. I will post my versions of those shots as time goes along as well.. but i want to
hone my skills to a point where I can present to you an image that doesn't need extra help, but rather is simply displayable all on it's own. Unhindered goodness!! So! Without further adieu!

My first SOC Shots!

31 August 2009

Dogs confuse me...

My dog hates it when I blow in her face but she loves stickin her head out the car window.

07 August 2009

Good Intentions

I've often discovered that I have the best intentions for things that start and often I follow through. But other things slip through the cracks and end up being the "inbetween" and never ever make it to the other side. This blog, along with a few others i have out there, sadly became the inbetween.

Life has been interesting lately which is the reason why i'm trying to fish the words out so I can start writing again. There use to be something so therapeutic about sitting down to a blank sheet of paper, a white screen, a napkin, anything that was write-on-able and start crankin out the thoughts. Yeah, not so much lately. I don't know if it's God's way of saying, "hey... i need a little more attention here" or just the words are gone... but with as many things going on like they have been... it's time to try and write for a little bit, even if it is forced.

We're in full summer tour swing here in the Skillet camp. It's been a busy one, so far, with lots of amazing shows to tell the kids about and new experiences to keep me going. We've gotten to play for a lot of fun crowds and do some really unique things this tour. The two major things that happened this summer are the addition of big ribbon lifts that elevate us up to about twenty three feet head height and a lot more pyrotechnics. Last year we had the pyro and it was insane getting used to playing with it. This year it felt a bit more normal even though it's still will never be normal telling people about it. Alas, this is my job, trying to explain to people that i play for a rockband. "Right... sure you do" is what i'm sure most of them think.

I really hope to keep this up and to make more use out of this blog. I use to be an avid blogger over on Xanga but sadly it has fallen to the wayside and collected dust. I hope i'm not paying for that still! I have to find a way to get all of those posts off of there! There were a lot of good entries!

If you do read this and you follow me, encourage me to write about something! As many things that are going on in my life, i should be able to verbalize it and share it with folks.

For now... here's a clip from open mic night with Bethany. Hope you enjoy!!

Me from Jonathan Chu on Vimeo.