I had a fun opportunity yesterday to spend time with a really fun couple! Here are a few pics from their big day! Congratulations Jason and Lauren!

Ever wondered if you should buy filters for your lenses?

First of all, what are they? and why would you want to buy one?

Filters are things you attach to your lens to accomplish different effects. Back in the film days, it was the only way to accomplish certain tasks (back then, there was no photoshop). If you’re a purist, it still is the only way to accomplish them. I am not a purist, I believe in taking a photograph the best I can in-camera, then making it look the way I want, in post process. 

There are a lot of people out there that say anything you put between your subject and your lens is going to deteriorate the quality of your photograph. This is true, however, some filters allow you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. In that defense, what good is a photograph if you can’t get it?

I believe there are only 3 filters worth buying- UV, CP, ND.

First UV. It’s purpose is to filter out ultraviolet light. Who cares… there is little to no visible affect to your photo. Because of this, it makes a great protector to your possibly very expensive lenses. These filters are generally inexpensive, and can protect your lens from getting scratched, dirty, or even broken. I have one of these for each of my lenses. These filters are generally between $20-$50 depending on quality

Second CP- Circular Polarizer. My favorite filter. It’s primary use is to allow you to control reflections, make your skies bluer, but also, allows you to slow down your shutter (it allows less light through it). I have one of these for each of my lenses as well. These generally start at about $50, but can get very pricey if you want a high end one.

 

Last of all, ND. This is a neutral density filter, available at different densities.  The most common use for this is to slow your shutter and get those dreamy waterfall scenes. The filter helps you not have to make your aperture super small in order to do it. Though another purpose would be to use larger apertures in bright light to get a shallow depth of field. These usually start at about $20, but it’s not unusual for them to be several hundred dollars.

Texture Libraries

Do you do a lot of photoshop? I was looking for resources for work and came across this awesome site. Tons of free textures available!

http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com

Studio Lighting

This is my first experiment with studio lighting. First impressions was that It was not difficult. One thing I found was the color of the room set off the color temperature of the photos and was nearly impossible to manually correct for it. The human eye is amazing! and all of my photos turned out super warm! But, since I shoot in RAW, I was able to correct all of the photos very quickly without losing any of the image quality.

            

I used 2 Halogen lights both with reflecting umbrellas attached. I then set my camera to 200ISO, the exposure to 1/120 second and my aperture to f/2.2 (when doing portraits, f/2.2 can be a little shallow, but will be help you shoot at higher shutter speeds)

When I got all of my images to Lightroom, all I had to do was correct the exposure and color temperature, then copy the settings of that image, and apply those settings to the rest. This was quite a cool experience, and had I used a keycard, I probably would have had even less trouble! Overall, it was a good experience and I would love to purchase a lighting kit for myself.

GLASS GLASS GLASS

Maybe you’re just starting out, or just going really slow in selecting your next lens. I was there not too long ago, I’ve had time to think about it. What should you look for?

I think the most important thing to consider is what your primary use for your camera is. Next, think about all those times when you wish you could have gotten a better photograph.

There are two main types of lenses, prime and zoom.

Prime
These lenses have a fixed focal length (zoom in by walking closer and stepping back). Generally you will find these to be faster than zooms. By faster, I mean their ability to take in light. If you find a lens that has a maximum aperture of f/2, it will take in more light than say an f/3.5-5.6. I’ve seen some incredibly fast prime lenses; the fastest I’ve found so far is an f/.95. Buuut, just because it’s fast and may cost a lot, don’t assume that it’s the best lens for you. There are a lot of places on the web that have posted detailed reviews on lenses.

to get you started, try www.dslrgear.com 

Zoom

These can range from standard zooms to super zooms. A super zoom generally gives you a huuuuge range, like 18-300mm. Don’t be too quick to jump on this opportunity. Because of the range, it’s probably not going to be very strong at any focal length, where as something narrower like a 24-78 may be really strong at all focal lengths. However, if you hate changing lenses, and just want a versatile lens, the broad range may be for you. 

What to look for

Speed: This refers to the aperture; you should choose this based on your shooting needs.  Shooting Indoors avoid slower lenses (f/3.5-5.6 and slower) start your search with faster lenses such as f/2.8 and lower. Also keep in mind that once you find that lens, that most zoom lenses tend to change aperture as you zoom in/out. When zoomed out, it may be f/2.8, but when zoomed in, it may change gradually to f/4.5. There are fixed focal length zoom lenses available and I would suggest keeping an eye out for one, they come in very handy. Shooting Outdoors You might want to consider weight. Where indoor shooting needs faster lenses, outdoor shooting is a lot more forgiving. You don’t need the added weight of the fast lenses. A lens with a minimum aperture of f/4 would probably suit you well. You would want to consider that a 3-5lb lens would get very tiresome to carry on a long hike.

Focal Length: Focal length determines how much magnification the lens has. If you’re trying to capture a photo of a bald eagle on top of a large tree, you probably won’t even be able to see it with a 24mm lens, where as a 300mm lens, you may be able to fill up your viewfinder. Are you shooting landscapes? Portraits? Different tasks require different tools. I primarily do portraits, so I would lean towards something in the 60mm in 35mm equivalent. What do I mean by equivalent? Most digital cameras utilize a crop sensor. These sensors are smaller than full frame sensors. Learn what your crop sensor’s size is and multiply it by the focal length of the lens you’re considering. For example, I shoot with an Olympus, which has a 2x crop sensor. If I wanted to buy a 30mm, that lens would be a 35mm equivalent of 60mm on my camera. If you own a Nikon yours is 1.5x and Canon would be 1.6x (both non-full frame).

Features: I can’t think of too many features that lenses have… I guess there is Image Stabilization (designated with VR on nikon, IS on canon, if you have olympus it’s built in to the body) it usually adds a substantial cost to the lens. I would recommend getting it. Another feature would be environmental sealing. Most cameras aren’t made to get wet at all, like most devices. If it doesn’t say it’s sealed, it probably is not, so keep it dry.

Lenses I recommend in every kit

•  Something wide, more than 100º field of view, the more the better.

•  A good fast prime, something around 50-60mm (35mm equiv) and f/2 or faster.

•  A quality zoom lens, so you can get up close an personal without being invasive.

What’s important?

In my opinion, if a lens isn’t crisp, it’s not doing its job. I want the focus to be as accurate as possible. If you’re like me, zooming into an image and find out that your image is blurry, soft or out of focus, your heart drops a bit. I can’t stress enough, do your research, and don’t skimp on your lens choice. Find a lens that you will use the most, and spend a little extra than you normally would.

I’m no expert, I’m learning just like everyone, but I am passionate about what I love, and I love photography. If you want opinions on any gear, I’ll be happy to give it to you, even if I have to do some research (which I end up doing a lot). Thanks all for reading!