Gear Q & A
Can you define L bracket and what it's for?
Oh, sure the L bracket is, it's a bracket that's shaped like an L, (laughs) and so if you look at the camera here, it actually goes like that. So it mounts to the camera what it lets you do is, I can shoot horizontal and then all I have to do is, unclip my ball head flip back and shoot vertical. So, what the alternative would be, to take your, you know, you're shooting horizontal, the alternative is to take your ball head, and then maneuver it but, you know, most ball heads have the notches, so you have to sit there and maneuver and get it down and do all that, so. It's just a little bit faster, easier way. And then, technically, you know, and it will matter on a trial pub like that, technically you have all your weight in the middle, as soon as you start doing that and you're camera's hanging off of the side, now you're kind of mispositioning where the weight of the tripod is helping the most, too. But for me it's just the ease of, literal...
ly it's I'm here, click, then click, back in. It's that simple. Alright, so we got camera body, that's my backup one, again this is the main one. Any questions on, any questions so far? I haven't really stopped to ask any questions.
We do have a handful of questions out here on the internet, here's one from photo maker, Matt, do you select your camera bodies based on the lenses that are available for it, and what you plan to be shooting, or do you do it, is that how you choose your gear?
No, no. I select my camera body really based on, my personal preference of what I like to shoot. Because just about everybody out there has the lenses you know, if you think, if you think, you know, Fuji, Sony, Canon, Nikon, like they all have, they all have the lenses that we need. For me, it kind of really becomes about what's best for what I'm going to shoot, so for, I'm not looking for huge iso performance, I'm not looking for frames per second, I'm more looking for megapixel size, and that's probably most of it.
Great, thank you, cool.
Can you explain the megapixel size thing?
You know, that's a great question! (laughs) So interesting to hear that question come from... (laughs) You know, I was talking to somebody in class before, and I knew I was going to forget to talk about megapixels so I asked Susan to remind me to-
Well, you never gave me a chance. (laughs)
So, megapixels, but I get that question a lot. So this, the Sony A7R2 that I'm shooting is 42 megapixels, before that, I shot the Nikon D800 and D810, those were 36 megapixels. So, these are like the beasts of the megapixel world. So why, why do I shoot that? I'm going to give you two reasons why I shoot it, I don't know that you're going to like the two reasons of why I shoot it, but I'm just being honest with it. So, reason number one, it's just cool. (laughs) It is just fun when you're post processing, and you get your big computer screen, and you can sit there and you can zoom in, and you can see the detail, you're basically enjoying the fruits of your labor, right. You know, we got it out there, we got our tripod, we captured a rock solid photo, and you can zoom in and really just, it feels good, I can't, it sounds stupid, but there is an enjoyment factor to that. So that's number one, and then the other thing, what I'm going to say number two, I was actually talking at a conference in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and a buddy of mine, Frederick Van Johnson, he runs This Week in Photo, he was the moderator of the panel, and he said, I said that, and he's like okay, that's cool it makes sense, and then later on, somebody was talking about the megapixels, and I said listen guys, I was like, you know what, I was like another reason I have this, is I teach for a living, I teach Photoshop and Lightroom. And sometimes I need to zoom in, and I need to show people what I'm doing and get very detailed in what I'm showing people and having the more megapixels lets me zoom in better, I was like, so you don't do that, you might not need that, and Frederick, he's the host of the show, his job is to kind of stir things up a little bit, he's like, oh, now you're contradicting yourself. And I'm like oh my god, I'm contradicting myself. Then after the show I didn't even think about it, I'm like, why can't I like both? I like the megapixels, I like zooming in, I like enjoying it, the other thing for me personally is, is it does help when I'm teaching. So those are the two things, I didn't say they were great answers, really what it comes down to, do I ever print them, as big as it'll take, no. I don't think I've ever printed bigger than 30 by 40. So, and I could do that probably easily with an 18, 24 megapixel camera, no sweat. So I don't think I ever take advantage of printing the size of the megapixel, but when I buy my next camera I'll probably still buy the big megapixel camera. Yes.
What about full frame versus another format?
Full frame versus some other format, you know... I'd say that the full frame craze, cool, it's out there, I buy it, I do it, but your chip size, your censor size and all that, is really a lot of what comes into the advantages of that full frame, a lot of your iso performance and whatnot, like this, this is not full frame, it won't have the same iso performance, although it's still really good, it won't have the same iso performance as that. I don't really care. I mean, if you can go with the crop censors, and that's more in the budget of what you can go with, great, think full frame has a little bit more legs to it for the future, but if crop frame is what you have, or crop frame is what you can afford, when you print that photo on the wall, no one will be able to tell, ever. So, yeah.
I've heard a lot of talk about people mentioning things like DR of a camera, dynamic range of a camera, do you have any thoughts on that, does it make any sense, or?
Sure, so dynamic range was the question, people mention the dynamic range of a camera. It goes back to something I said in the beginning where if you signed up for landscape photography, you signed up for post processing. Because those things do not see the world as we see it. We can sit there and we can see all of the highlights and we can see all of the shadows in one and just, looking at it. Your cameras can't do that, okay. So that's the dynamic range of the camera is, you know, they talk about how many stops, or how many exposure values of the scene can your camera see, so this is the whole scene, and this is what our eyes see, our cameras see this. This is why we post process to bring back these parts, right. So the dynamic range of your cameras are definitely different, all I can tell you is my personal experience. When I shot my Nikon D800, D810, and I shot just about everything else out there that I tried, that was one of the best images I've ever, ever seen. And I loved what Sony was doing, I love the size of the Sony, I love what they're doing with the electronic viewfinders and the apps and all the different things in camera, and I wanted to switch to Sony, and the A7R2 came out, and I tried it out, that was as good or better than the image quality from my Nikon, it's the dynamic range. So, other cameras, just, it's tough, you know. They all differ they all have better, worse dynamic range, but it's definitely a factor. What it really comes out to, is sometimes, if you don't have as much dynamic range, you might have to take two photos. One to capture the sky, one to capture the foreground, and then you might have to merge them together, with another camera, maybe it has a little leeway to bring out shadows and highlights. Mr. Jim!
Matt, question from the internet, just reminding folks this is intentioned as a beginning course, it's for absolute newbies, a lot of you know, professional photographers will have a lot of takeaways, but some of the questions will be a little bit, sort of, you know, for the 101 people. And one of our students wanted to know, when do you use the raw setting for landscape?
Great question, actually, so I use the raw setting all the time. (laughs) And that is because landscape is one of the harder things for us to, for the camera to capture. And what the difference between the raw and the JPG is, is the raw I will have a better, I will have better leeway in opening up shadows that might be dark, or pulling back highlights that might be too bright. Where the JPG, once that's all baked in, don't have quite as much leeway with that. So with my landscapes, I'm shooting it all the time. You know, portraits, things like that, don't tend to shoot raw quite as much. I'll shoot JPGs on portraits whenever I do shoot my kid's sporting events and stuff like that, I'm not going to shoot raw, I'll shoot JPG, let the buffer, the buffer tends to fill up super fast when you're shooting raw, so. I'll shoot JPGs for that, but for my landscapes it's almost always raw. But yeah, great question on the raw stuff for landscapes, 100%, definitely. Alright, cool? Alright, what are we, we talked about tripods, lenses, so I carry pretty much the holy trinity of lenses that they call it. So on the wide side I carry the 16 to 35. Okay, this is on the Sony, Nikon makes a 16 to 35, Canon makes a 16 and 35, I'm sure many many other people make a 16 to 35. But this is for the wide side of things. So the 16 to 35 I have the F4 version. Who makes it, Nikon makes a 14 to 24, great lens. Tamron makes a 15 to 35 that will work on, you know, your Nikons, your canons, I mean, get whatever version of it, excellent lens. And much cheaper than some of the other ones, so. I actually, when I shot Nikon, that's the lens that I used to use for my wide angle stuff. But, it's Tamron I think it's a 15 to 30 or 35, great lens. Next up, the other part of the holy trinity is, the mid range this is the 24 to 70, as I look through my library and I sort by, what lens I use the most, this is probably the lens I use the most. Me personally, I don't like to go too wide. I'm a big foreground and background guy, and what happens is when I go 16, like I'll show you photos later of the when one of our shoots of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I'm shooting this rock, if I go 16, the Golden Gate Bridge is this small, in the corner of my frame. So that 24 to 70 forces me compositionally, to make a composition that still keeps the background of my images big enough that they're an impact in the photo. Again, that's my personal style. And then, just, everybody makes a 24 to 70. You name the company, they make a 24 to 70. And then Sony, or, not the Sony, the 70 to 200, is my last one. People say like, you carry 70 to 200 for landscapes? Yes. And you'll see this throughout the day. Don't forget the intimate details of landscapes. And often those are some of my favorite photos. So just zooming in and really capturing a part of nature, you know, cutting everything else out of the photo and just capturing a part of it, so yes, this lens is on my camera quite a bit, for my landscape stuff. And it's an amazing portrait lens, too. You know, 150, 200 millimeters, at it's lowest F stop and your background will get nice and blurry it makes amazing portraits. Then the only other thing that we have up here is, you're going to laugh at me, I bought them because I got a really good deal on them, (laughs) I'm not going to lie. I have the 28 F2, and I have the 55 F1.8, so yeah, a lot of companies make a 51A, whatever it is, you know, and then a wide angle. I bought them because I got a great deal on them. I'm not a big specialty, they're primes, they don't zoom and they just, they sit in my bag a lot because I want to zoom. So very very rarely do I not want the zoom. What's the trade off? They're supposed to be sharper, if I was a wedding photographer and I'm in a church and I need to shoot wide, or I need to get a little bit closer and I'm in a church, yeah, I'm probably going to put this 5518 on, because now I can shoot it at 18, and then low light and get some shots. But as a landscape photographer, they're supposed to be a little bit sharper, are they a little bit sharper, a little bit. But not enough to make me change lenses all the time every time I want to zoom. So it's, for better or for worse I'm honest with you. I bought them because I got a great deal on them, once in awhile it's nice to throw this on, it's a smaller lens and walk around with that on, because it's a real, you know, it takes the, it makes this a real compact system, so. That's nice as well. And then on the A6300 I just have the kit lens, and I see so many reviews that say the kit lens isn't good, that's all I use on it. I think it's great, so. The most that I can tell you is reviews will confuse you more than you ever were before you started looking at them. So if you have a friend, ask a friend. But a review is, if you want your sure way to dive into confusion, go look at reviews. Filters, so talk a little bit about filters, I use mostly, I use a system that, it's a bracket thing that screws onto the front of your lens. (laughs) Camera guys love it when I do that. It's a little bracket thing it screws on to the front of your lens, okay. This one is by Vu, V U, and it's actually a system made for the mirrorless systems, it's smaller, but it screws onto the front of your lens, it's kind of cool, it's got a polarizer built right into it. I always always, we talk about a polarizer in a second so I'll skip that, but, what's nice about it is, when I want to slow down water, when I want to get a longer shutter speed so I can make the water look smooth, I put this on and then you just slide, your little filters... Right in front, just like that. So what's the advantage of this? So just a screw on filter, easy to take in and take out. So if you're doing longer exposures, and then you want to switch to something else, just pull it out you don't have to screw it on and off, which isn't a huge deal when it's cold it's a big deal. If it's ever cold outside, putting filters on and off is a pain in the butt, but the way that it goes on is it like literally just screw it right onto the front of your lens, like you would a screw on filter, okay. So that's that, I mentioned before, polarizers so these are like my mutual density filters and that's primarily just if I ever want to slow down the water, I want to slow down the shutter speed. I always carry a polarizer. Polarizer's going to be on 75% of the time. This system's nice because it actually screws the polarizer, I don't know if you guys can tell, but the polarizer is actually part of the filter system, and it's circular and behind it I have these little notches that I can turn it because it's a circular polarizer. So right back here you can kind of see, I just turn it around. Use a polarizer a lot. I don't use it so much for the sky, I think we think of like a polarizer, oh, I want to make the sky blue. I don't use it so much for the sky, I use it for reflections. Whenever there's a reflective surface, water, but not just water, go out on a sunny day when the sun's high up in the sky, and look at leaves, look at leaves on a tree, they get a lot of glare, if you have polarized sunglasses on put the polarized sunglasses on, and you'll see it takes a lot of that glare off, so it just kind of helps subdue glare, whether it's water, whether it's trees, whatever it happens to be. And then the cool thing about the Vu it comes in this little filter pouch, too. So it's like everything just, goes right inside there, all filters go right in the middle. Bags, bags bags bags. So, this again, is boring, it's called the Eve case. Again, I'm not going to lie, somebody gave it to me for free for going to an event, and I have about five camera bags that I've spent anywhere between $79 and $ sitting in my closet and I go with the free one that I think on Amazon is like 35 bucks, so. It's small, it's tiny, I mean, you can see it compared to me it's just, everything fits inside of there for me, and I don't want a big bag. To me, the prouder, I'm most proud when I carry a small camera bag around with me, because I just don't want, I don't want a lot of gear, but I usually do want a backpack, because I want to keep my arms free as I'm moving around.
Is there possibly a brand name on that there?
Eve case, E V E case.
Great, thank you.
E V E case, so.
It's a nice looking bag.
It's on Amazon, yeah. Buy two. (laughs) So yeah, I usually do want a backpack though, that way my arms are free as I'm walking around, so I can hold my tripod, I can, you know, climb around, move around if I need to. What else do we got here? Got some cable releases, you know, most of the time before I shot this, the Sony system, I would just use a wired cable release. They had wireless ones, I always lost the wireless piece. You have to be a transmitter or something on your camera, and I would always lose some piece of it, so. I went old school and I went back to a wired cable release, so. Wired cable release when I got the Sony, there's this little infrared one, and it's pretty cool. It's, I think it's like $10 on Amazon, Photo tech is the name of it, but it's infrared the only trick to it is, is the infrared on the Sony's on the front of the camera, so when I'm out shooting you see me like this. Like I'm always going like this in front of the camera to trigger, I couldn't figure, like I'm standing behind it like this thing's crap. When I first got it I'm like, stupid thing doesn't work, you know, and then I don't know how I wound up, maybe I was just closer to it and it triggered, and I realized I have to do the, be in the front of the camera. I think that takes care of our gear. I put my compact, or my SD cards in this little pouch here. And... The fog eliminator, so. If it's, if you're going between humid and air conditioned conditions and whatnot and you get that fog on your lens this will definitely help, so. This you can grab on Amazon. Super cheap, and then I have, I have these lens wipes from Zeiss that I got on Amazon, too. So they're semi wet, I won't say the word moist. (laughs) We had a joke of that the other day. They're damp-ish, they're pretty good, they're good like, if you know, you're on the beach and there's spray. You ever take like a lens cloth, even if there's spray on your lens sometimes it just smears it around a little bit, so that's why I like to have something that at least has a little bit of liquid to it. Just wipe them off. I got like, for like three bucks I got like a hundred of them. They're pretty good, they dry up pretty fast, other ones that I've used are made by Hoodman, H O O D M A N, Hoodman and they're the lens, they're called lens cleanse, and they last a lot longer you can actually use them multiple times during a shoot, so. After I use up these things, I'll probably switch back to those.
So a couple questions, are you ready for some questions from the internet?
Are there any specific pieces of equipment that you have or gear in your bag that are, your sort of like, your little trick, your little landscape kind of a little something here that's like my Matt, Matt Kay...
What is the Matt Kay trick? I mean...
This I don't see this a lot. These filter systems that have the, that has the polarizer built right into it, so that's kind of like, you know, other filter systems you have to put these contraptions where you have to screw it on the front, and then this filter so this is kind of a neat little trick, like whenever I see anybody else out there, and they're messing around with their polarizer and their MD filters, I'm always like ha! And just move this thing around, so take that!
Cool, and a couple more questions along that same line, Matt. Curious if the filter discussion, if you can talk about the pros and cons of using a variable ND. Do you use them, do you like them?
That's a good question, good, good, give them, give them like, like their question up. Great question, variable ND versus regular, so here's an example. This is a polarizer, but, so, variable ND is basically a screw on filter, that it's kind of two polarizers mashed together. And, you turn it just like you would a circular polarizer, and it usually goes, excuse me, some of the ones I've seen go from two to eight stops. So you're basically carrying eight filters in one, right. So you turn it, it makes it darker and darker and darker and darker. They are awesome in theory, and in the right lighting conditions, like if we were out, when we were out the other day, and it was foggy and you don't really have any sun to deal with because that's when your polarizer really starts kicking in, when you don't have sun to deal with and whatnot, they're great. The problem is, is you can get into trouble with them, because it's two polarizers stuck together, as you turn it you get, you can get in the wrong lighting conditions and if you, you can get into trouble by turning it past where it's supposed to go, you get this X pattern, because if you think it's two polarizers mashed on top of each other, so you get this like, this pattern in the middle, and the worst part about it is, it's really tough to see when the photo is that small, on the screen and you won't see it until you get back to your computer and the photo's ruined. So, super awesome in theory, I had one, I don't carry it just because of that. I could never master exactly how it worked, so. Good question, though.
And then, along those same lines, I'm not finding the exact question, but I'll just sort of reiterate. Do you get any vignetting when you have that frame on, on the front of your camera?
Absolutely, so, do you get vignetting, which you know, is the edges of the photo, you'll get that little dark, little dark edge around the photo, what I did is because, I have a BNW polarizer, circular polarizer, before I had that Vu system, and these things are like 125 bucks, I mean I bought it like nine years ago, so I've had it forever, but I still didn't want to spend another 125 bucks to get one that fit those lenses so I just got a step down filter. If you don't know what a step down, or a step down ring, if you don't know what a step down ring is, is basically it'll take my 77 millimeter thread screw on filter I screw it into the front of it, and then it steps down to 72 millimeter which is what the thread size of those lenses are. So I just bought like a $4 step down, the problem is that it extends the filter out further, and sometimes I get vignetting, I get that dark edge around there so... Best thing I can say is, is be prepared for it, know if it's going to happen to you because you can see it and then shoot a little bit wider, than you need to shoot because then you can crop it out. It's really tough to get rid of it in post, because it is so dark.
Great, and along those same lines, great questions, a lot of great questions from photo maker, and another one along these same lines, from Ken Ronny Tominson who says, when you do shoot with a wide angle lens, how do you deal with distortions, especially at the corner of the frames?
Good question, I really don't deal with it. So your wider angle lenses, you'll start to see a little bit of distortion, the fraction, it gets a little bit softer at the edges, I, to me, that's kind of a pixel peeper thing. So I just, there's nothing I can do about it, I'm going to shoot wide angle and I'm going to sharpen my photo in post, but there's nothing I do special to deal with it. If I need to shoot wide, I need to shoot wide.
Great, and then Jane Ames would like to know, if you were only to buy one ND filter, what strength would you buy?
If I only were to buy one ND filter... I think I would buy a... I'm going to go six stop. Four or six. That's two. (laughs) Here's the reason. They have these ten stop ND filters, which are cool like you can get super, super long exposures with a ten stop, I mean, you can't actually see through a ten stop filter. When you hold it up, you can't see through it, so it's so dark, they're very very specialty. The only time you'd really use them is in midday, and you just want it to slow down water, or maybe the clouds are moving, and you want to make the cloud streaky, so they get very specialized in that. A lot of times I find, as landscape photographers, we kind of don't want to be shooting midday. So, if you try to pull that thing out in the morning, or in the evening it's going to take a four second shutter speed, and it's going to make it four minutes. So they get almost prohibitive to use, at the edges of the day so, the ten stop's a little bit too specialized, and then I found like your two and your three stops, don't make much of a difference, especially if your camera, your iso on your camera, I know a lot of them go down to 50, so think of it this way, our iso is at 100. When we want to make our shutter speed faster, what do we do? We raise our iso. Okay, I want a faster shutter speed, so I go to 200, 400, whatever. I want to make my shutter speed slower, I can go down to 50, so that'll kind of take the place of like a three, two or three stop and D filter, if your camera goes down to 50. So that's why I'm going to go four, six.
Perfect, thank you, and Matt, just to give you a heads up, we have some great questions in the internet here, on gear so we're just going to hammer through to our break on questions on gear, and then we'll come back and show some more videos of you out in the field.
This goes to people love gear!
Indeed, yes exactly.
I still, I want to figure this out, because we say the gear doesn't matter, but we love gear! I don't know why.
Alright, so we're going to go to the in studio and then I have a few more-
Do you have an answer to this? Is that why you're...
I love gear, too, love gear. So this is a gear question, do you use lens hoods? And are they available for the Vu system?
Okay, very good question, so do I use lens hoods, which is... The, or a lens shade or whatever you want to call it, which is basically this little doohickey, plug it onto the front, it's in. And that's a lens shade. Yes, I use my lens shade if I'm out and the sun is out. Because I want to shade it as much as I can, and you saw from my photos, I'm a big shoot into the sun person. So these definitely help. The other little trick for you is, if you carry like a baseball cap or some kind of hat or something like that, if you are going to shoot into the sun, kind of like, bring it out even more, because that flare makes your photo look faded. And it's tough to remove in post, so I'll bring something out that's not in frame, but you kind of shade this a little bit, because as you can see it's not a whole lot of shade, for the lens on there, but yeah, I definitely use a lens shade. And if you're going to use the Vu system, or, yeah, you're not going to be able to do it, so. That is, that's a reason why you might want to use screw on filters. I actually carry both because I stopped, before I had that system I had screw on filters, so I do carry them both and that's a place where I might want to still use them. Cool.
Let's do one more question, and then we'll head out to our morning break. Another great one from photo maker, does the TSA let you carry the travel tripod, and some, and the rest of your equipment onto the plane or do you put it in the checked luggage?
Really good questions from photo maker here. So I've never had a problem with the TSA and carrying anything, tripods, bags, cameras, whatever. I will, I'll go over my packing strategy for you, and that is so, all the super expensive stuff, is going inside my backpack that stays with me. And then the other stuff I'll usually pack into, if I'm going somewhere, if I've got like a rolling bag with me I'll put it in there, if I'm checking my luggage I'll put my tripod in there. I'll put my filters in there, I'll put my cable release in there, I'll put my batteries, I'll put the charger. What else do I put in there? Cable releases, filters, tripod, ball head. Basically everything else but the lenses and the camera bodies will go into the bag, that just kind of keeps the weight off of my back and I don't have to lug it all around, so. And then the other little trick for you, is sometimes if, so if you're a gear head, and you happen to have more gear, a lot of people have like a rolling gear bag, and the other thing is sometimes if you're taking a long trip you don't want the backpack on your bag, you know, walking through airports and stuff. So if you take a rolling gear bag, you put all your gear in there, get through the airport, travel with it. What I'll do is, I'll take my bag, I'll put it into my checked luggage, and I'll fill it with clothes so that it doesn't take up a lot of space, so that way I get my camera, like when I get to wherever I'm shooting, I have this to move around with, but while I'm traveling I can carry, I can pull the rolling bag, kind of keep that with me, so. Yeah, that one works out really well, actually.