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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Uncoventional Guide to Art and Money

Once in a while I come across a truly amazing idea or product, and when I do I get excited.

When I purchased The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money I wasn't sure what to expect. It looked interesting, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be worth the $39 it cost.

I was obviously intrigued enough to buy it, and actually I paid $58 for the up-graded Picasso Version which comes with 3 additional interviews. I figured I had nothing to lose as it has a money back guarantee.

The first thing I noticed is that the guide is VERY well laid-out, both from a visual and organizational stand-point. It looks good!

The next thing I noticed was that I was half-way through it. I'd intended to give it a quick once over and come back to it later for a more thorough read. Turns out I just kept reading until I was done. It was so interesting that I wanted to hear the rest.

I've since read it through a couple more times, and gone back to it for information and references more times than that.

If you're in an Art related business, this guide is for you. As Chris (the author) says,

"Here's a shocking idea: artists are not destined to be poor. If you're an artist, you can actually make money from your art, feel good about it, and build up a following to support your independent career."

Actually, if you're an artist... photographer, painter, sculptor, illustrator, cartoonist... whatever, you owe it to yourself to read this guide. It may just change your life. I liked it so much I contacted Chris and arranged to become an affiliate of Chris' and promote the guide.

Of course, if you're a starving artist and quite happy to be so, it's probably not for you. I know some artists feel that being a starving artist is necessary to their art. If that's you, pretend you didn't see this post.

As for me, I've already started putting some of the ideas in the guide into effect. I am quite happy to make more money from my art (photography and writing). I have nothing against being an adequately paid artist. I wouldn't even complain if my art made me rich. :)

If you're like me and not adverse to making a little more money, buy The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money. Chris guarantees it so you've got nothing to lose. If you don't love it, he'll refund your money!

Photography Competitions

For those of you that like photography competitions, check out

They have a pretty comprehensive list of the different photography competitions that are out there... far more than I was aware of.

Current competition topics range from My Back Yard to an Africa Wide Eco Theme, Beautiful Eyes, and an Ocean In Focus Conservation theme. There's lots more too!

Entry ranges from free and up, and prizes can be quite good in some of them.

Head over and peruse the photography competitions. Get out your camera, put in a fresh battery, and get out there and start shooting. :)

Boost your Google ranking with GOOGLE BUSINESS MARKETING!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nikon D700x Replacement for the D700?

A lot of rumours are flying around about the Nikon D700x. Some are saying that sources at Nikon have told them it will be coming before the end of the year. Others are saying it will replace the D700. Most agree it will be 24 Megapixels like the Nikon D3X.

First of all, I don't think the D700x will replace the D700. The D700x will be a higher step in the Nikon DSLR product line, similar to the D700 and D3 relationship. If there is a replacement for the D700, it will likely be a D700s, and will be a minor update to the current model (think D2X and D2Xs).

As regular readers well know, I've been talking about this coming DSLR for some time now (see Stuff I Want, The Magic of the Nikon 35mm f2.0, How the Nikon D300 Froze My Bank Account), although I've been calling it the Nikon D800. By the way, my bet is still on the Nikon D800 as the name of this yet to be released dream camera. I just like D800 better. :)

Regardless of whether it's called the D700x or the D800, I think this camera is definitely on it's way. I'm not sure about it being out by the end of the year, but considering the release timing of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D3X, I can see it happening. On top of that, an October or early November release would have it on shelves in time for Christmas, allowing Nikon to give their sales and financial numbers a BIG boost before year end.

Here's the specs I said I wanted for the D800 in my Stuff I Want post.

Nikon D800 - a 24 Mega-pixel version of the D700. No video. No flip down LCD. Just that SUPER SWEET sensor from the D3X in a D700 body at around $4K. I'll buy one for sure!

I'm still thinking the same specs for the Nikon D700x (or D800 if I'm right), although, I'm re-thinking the video. It's highly likely that Nikon will put video in the D700x as it seems to be the latest rage right now. While it's not something I'm really interested in, I'm not opposed to it as long as it doesn't come at the expense of something else (price?).

I'm also thinking the D700x will have Nikon's built in sensor cleaning feature, and possibly the flip down LCD. I know I said no flip down LCD previously, but it makes sense that Nikon would want to make this camera as feature rich as possible. Nikon has a proud tradition of packing their DSLR's full of features, in direct contrast to Canon, who traditionally give their DSLR's (other than the flagships) a stripped down feature set.

Of course Nikon may not want to put ALL the latest features in the D700x for fear of hurting the D3X sales. I personally don't think this will be the case (just look at the D700 and D3 for a perfect example), but it's a valid point to consider.

In any case, heres my up-dated specs for the D700x (D800).
- 24 Megapixel Sensor (same one as the D3X)
- same body as the D700 / D300
- same feature set as the D700 but also adds...
- built in image sensor cleaning
- flip down LCD
- HD video movie mode
- microphone input jack for the HD video movie mode
- Live View Auto Focus in real time

Hopefully it won't be much longer now before we see how close I was on the specs. :)

****Update: Uncle Bob Leaks TOP SECRET Info On The Nikon D700X ****

****Update: Nikon D700X vs the Nikon D3X ****

Friday, June 26, 2009

Some Great Dog Photos from Woofstock by Miles Storey /

I love Bulldogs, so it's no surprise this photo by Miles Storey of the caught my eye. Miles has a whole collection of great dog photos from the Woofstock Festival over at the Torontoist.

Miles' bulldog photo reminds me of our bullie, Hyla. She was such a comic. There was never a dull moment with her around. We miss her!

The Woofstock Festival is the "Largest Festival for Dogs in North America", according to their website. Their website has fun homepage too! :) I haven't been, but it looks like a blast if you're a dog lover (who isn't?). We may have to check it out next year!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lightroom Tutorial - Renaming Photo Folders During Import

Thought I'd share with you a quick Lightroom tip for renaming the folder you're importing your photos to right from the Import Photos Window in Lightroom.

Before I found out about this one, I used to import my photos, and then go the folder in Windows to rename it the way I wanted it. Now I just do it right from the Import Photos Window in Lightroom. It's quick and easy, and a big time saver.

If you don't have Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, Amazon usually has the best price.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beware of The Domain Registry of Canada

I thought I should give everyone a heads up about these sneaky dudes. If you haven't already gotten a renewal notice from them for your domain, you probably will at some point.

I had thought in this age of blogging, twitter, and social transparency, this kind of sneaky, down right deceptive marketing was done. I mean, why would a business resort to this type of thing when they're more likely than ever to get exposed for it.

Here's the renewal I got. Click on the image to see a larger one if you can't make out the type.

First off, let me start by saying that I have never registered a domain with these jokers. I have never done business with them at all. And yet, to the unsuspecting reader, it appears from this renewal they've sent me that my domain is registered with them and is up for renewal.

Of course, if you read really carefully and are good at reading between the lines, you kinda get that they are trying to get me to switch to them as a registrar. This certainly isn't obvious though, nor was it to one of my clients when they received this letter and sent these wonderful folks a cheque fearing that their domain was about to expire.

Now, like myself, you may clue in immediately that this is a bogus piece of entrapment advertising designed to trick you into switching your domain to The Domain Registry of Canada without even knowing you've done it. But I'm sure there are many, like my client I mentioned, who will get burned by them. As I'm sure you're well aware, not all our friends and family who have websites are as internet savy as we might like them to be.

In fact, some people choose not to bother themselves with the workings of the internet and pay someone else to do it for them. This is where my client got caught. Granted, he probably should've called me first, but reading this deceptive letter the Domain Registry of Canada sent me, you can see how one might just pay them.

Even their name is meant to deceive. The Domain Registry of Canada sounds like it's an official entity doesn't it. One might even assume it's a branch of the government. That's all part of the deception. Even if you're not Canadian, I bet there is a similar scam going on in your country using a similar naming that makes it appear official.

And look at the pricing. My God! Who charges $40 a year for a domain? I use where Canadian .ca domains are only $12.95 per year. Even .com names are only $14.95 per year. You can see why The Domain Registry of Canada has to trick and deceive you, their prices are outrageous!

Anyway, I keep getting these renewal letters from these jokers every year, and I it occurred to me I should warn my fellow photographers to be wary of these guys. And even if you wouldn't have been fooled, what about friends and family? Pass the word around so your friends and family don't get burned like my client did.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recovering blown skies with the Lightroom Graduated Filter

One of my favourite features in Lightroom 2 is the Lightroom Graduated Filter. It's fantastic for fixing photos where your sky is blown. It's quick, easy, and does a great job.

I've put together a quick little video showing how to use it. The end result is quite punchy and I'd tweak the photo a bit more if I was making a print, but it shows the graduated filter effect quite well.

Also wanted to point out, the video compression makes the sky look a lot worse than it actually is. It isn't actually that blotchy. :)

Here's the original image with no graduated filter. It was a bright, sunny day, and you can see the sky is blown out.

Here's the end result after I've applied a graduated filter in Lightroom as shown in the video. I also punched up the color with the Lightroom Vibrance setting.

Try the Lightroom Graduated Filter for yourself. If you haven't used it yet, I think you'll be surprised how quick it is to use and how well it works.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Nikon D40 Review and Recap of the Little Camera That Won People's Hearts.

Since it was announced in late 2006, the venerable little Nikon D40 Digital SLR has found a place in thousands of photographers camera bags. I don't know the exact number of D40 bodies that Nikon has sold (if you know, please let us know by leaving a comment), but it's a LOT. I'm guessing in the hundreds of thousands.

It's not hard to see why. The little D40 does pretty much everything right. It's small, lightweight, and capable of fantastic image quality. The D40 does low light, high ISO work very well, rendering very usable photos. It focuses well, and it is packed with features, especially considering it's price point.

The D40 was one of the lowest priced DSLR's ever when it was introduced. The kit price with the Nikon 18-55 AF-S DX lens and D40 body was $599.99 US, opening up the DSLR market to pretty much anyone who wanted to trade up from a point and shoot. The D40 kit with the 18-55 was only $419 today when I checked on An incredible value!

Even though the D40's replacement is on it's way, I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend the D40 Kit, especially at this price. Here's why...

The Price, obviously. You just can't beat four hundred bucks for such a great little camera, and you get a pretty decent standard zoom lens to go with it!

The Build Quality of the Nikon D40 is hard to beat, especially at this price point. It's rugged and durable, and has stood the test of time over the last few years.

The Feature Set of the D40 is impressive. As the Nikon D40 page says, "Incredible Pictures, Incredibly Easy."

The Image Quality of the D40 is very good. At 6 Megapixels, it's got plenty of resolution for most people. I photographed weddings with a pair of Nikon D70 bodies for a couple of years, and I still show a lot of those images in my portfolio. Many photojournalists have built amazing portfolios shooting with the D1H which was just under 3 Megapixels. The D40's 6 megapixels capture excellent detail and sports very usable high ISO capability, all without requiring it's users to buy bigger and bigger memory cards and hard drives (not to mention faster and faster computers to process the images on). The Megapixel race isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

Many of you might be asking, what about the Canon Rebel XT or XTi? Yes, those were good cameras, and also came in at low price points. I owned an XTi, and I liked it very much. The Nikon D40, however, beats both the Canon Rebel XT and Rebel XTi in three very important areas, build quality, features, and autofocus.

The build quality of the D40 is at least a notch above the XT and XTi. The D40 is more solid, and better put together. You can feel the quality difference when you hold these three DSLR's. The D40 also sports a 2 year warranty to back up it's build quality. The Canon XT and XTi only came with 1 year warranties, an on-going pet peeve of mine when it comes to Canon and their quality control problems. The D40 wins.

On features, the D40 wins again. Nikon has consistently built it's DSLR's with more and better features than Canon has, and the D40 is no exception.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, autofocus is better on the D40. This, unfortunately, is also consistent with comparisons of almost all Nikon DSLR bodies to Canon DSLR bodies, and is one of the reasons I switched back to Nikon. Canon has persistent autofocus problems in it's autofocus system. Shoot a Nikon DSLR alongside a Canon DSLR, and you will get more out of focus images on the Canon by a considerable margin.

The Nikon D40 is one great little camera. If you're looking to upgrade your point and shoot to a DSLR, you can't go wrong, especially at today's prices! If you're a PRO looking for a nice little, light weight body to put a fast prime on or to use as a walk-around camera, the D40 delivers.

So here's to the little Nikon D40, a fantastic little DSLR that has earned a star in the DSLR Hall of Fame.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Image Is Everything

Image is everything. Not just the images you create, but your public image.

Do people see you as you think they do? How do you know?

Do you work to make sure your public image is the one you want people to see?

Would most people agree with you if you described how you think the public sees you?

Your public image isn't etched in stone. You can change it, for better or for worse. It's up to you.

They say not to sweat the small stuff, but a lot of the time it's the small stuff that matters when it comes to your public image.

Hygiene is important. It's amazing how many people forget that.

Clothes make the man (or woman). No, this doesn't mean you have to wear designer stuff, but what you wear and how it looks on you speaks volumes to people. Do you know what your clothes are saying?

What you say, and how you say it is a big one. Do you sound the way you want to? Are you too loud? Too quiet? Do you use too much slang and too many cliches and end up sounding like a twit?

Uncle Bob was Prone to Camera Strap Related Accidents

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where is the Nikon Digital PEN?

So, looking at the new Olympus Digital PEN has got me thinking... where is Nikon's version of the PEN? Or for that matter, Canon's version of the PEN?

Why has this type of camera been so grossly over-looked by Nikon and Canon? Neither Nikon or Canon has anything like it.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking that there is a BIG market for this type of camera.

Perhaps Nikon and Canon are worried that it would cut into DSLR sales, but I don't buy that. They could price it higher than their already low-priced entry level DSLR's and make a tidy profit. It would add to their bottom-line as a LOT of photographers would ADD it to their arsenal, not replace anything with one.

Come on boys... give the people what they want. Take a look at the Olympus Digital PEN, have a peek at your parts inventory, get the engineers engaged, get some PRO photographers engaged, and GET TO IT!

Notice I said "get some PRO photographers engaged"? Too many times the engineers are the only ones designing things, and you get a very nice looking, fully featured, TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE camera. Specs are one thing, but usability in the field is another. AND IT'S A BIG "ANOTHER".

Here, I'll help you out Nikon. Here's what the Nikon Digital PEN should be.

- 12 MP sensor from the Nikon D90 (see, I'm making it easy... no new parts here!)
- F mount that takes all Nikon lenses (even easier, no MICRO mount... just use the existing one)
- Small body, approximate size and weight of the Olympus Digital PEN (think COOLPIX P6000)
- Body build has to be rugged and durable, think D300 / D700
- VR Image Stabilization built-in
- Dust Reduction
- AutoFocus Live View
- Face Detection
- RAW Image File setting

and here's a few extras to make it the BEST DAMN POCKET CAMERA EVER

- dual cards slots
- variable RAW file sizes (think sRAW on the Canons)
- movable vari-angle LCD monitor (like the P5000), but don't even think about adding to the weight and size because of this
- HD movie mode
- use the D90's 12 MP sensor, but re-work the processors so it delivers D700-like high ISO. Yeah baby, I'm talking usable 12,800 ISO!

Come on Nikon! As Rob Schneider says... "You can do it!"

Olympus E-P1 PEN - "Digital Pen"

Well Olympus has finally announced the "Digital Pen", the digital version of the much loved PEN family of cameras. As Olympus says, the Pen has the "photographic optics of an SLR and the size and simplicity of a point and shoot."

A camera with these type of specs has been top on the wishlist of a lot of photographers. Mike Johnston of TOP (The Online Photographer) has termed this type of dream camera a DMD, or Decisive Moment Camera. Basically, we're talking about a camera small enough to fit in your pocket and take anywhere, with the image quality and optics of a DSLR.

Does the new Olympus PEN fill these requirements?

It looks promising.

In the size category, the PEN obviously makes the cut. It's a SMALL camera. At 120.6 mm (W) x 69.9mm (H) x 36.4 mm (D) (excluding protrusions), and weighing in at only 335g, the PEN is tiny and lightweight.

The PEN has a 12.3 MegaPixel sensor, which is more than enough megapixels, and should offer excellent image quality (at least at the lower ISO settings... IMHO the Olympus 4/3 sensors have never been very good at the higher ISO settings, so it remains to be seen how the PEN's image quality holds up at high ISO). DPReview has quite a few sample images from the PEN on their site, but very few of them are at high ISO. The few I did see appeared to exhibit the typical loss of detail and heavy noise reduction I'm used to seeing from the Olympus Four Thirds.

The PEN has a new Micro Four Thirds Mount compatible with the new Micro Four Thirds Lenses as well as all the Olympus Four Thirds System Lenses with the use of the MMF-1 Adapter. Olympus optics are excellent, so I give the PEN a big checkmark here for optic quality, especially since the PEN can use the full Four Thirds Lens line-up with the adapter.

The Digital Pen does have a nice feature list. Here's the Pen features that are most significant to me.

Size and weight. Already covered above, but I have to mention them again as they are perhaps the Pen's biggest features (combined with the optics and image quality).

Image Quality. The 12.3 MP sensor will be more than most need. I have my reservations about the high ISO, but it should still suffice in a pinch (a great time to have an SB-26 available as off-camera flash :)

Optics. Don't really have to say much here. Olympus has great optics.

AutoFocus Live View. Really cool. A handy feature that will get lots of use by almost all photographers I'm sure.

3 Modes of Image Stabilization. Really cool again. Every camera should have IS by now. It's a no-brainer. Luckily, the PEN has it in spades. Not just IS, but 3 different modes of IS. Can't complain here.

Face Detection. Another really cool feature that is making it's way into a lot of digital cameras these days. It's pretty neat to actually see it in operation.

Dust Reduction. Again, every digital camera should have this these days, but not all do. The Olympus dust reduction system is arguably the best out there. Nikon and Canon could learn from Olympus.

Full Manual Control. Seems kinda' funny to include this in my list of features I like, but it's a biggie if you don't have it, and a make or break feature for most photographers who will be interested in a camera like the PEN.

All in all, the new Digital PEN looks to be the perfect pocket camera for photographers who require DSLR like image quality and optics. I'll be interested to see the hands on reviews as they appear on the web. Real shooters taking real pictures will tell the real story.

Olympus says... Not a Point and Shoot. Not an SLR. It's a PEN. What will you create?

What WILL you create?

Full Specs, Features, and Stuff over at the OLY website

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Uncle Bob Loved Meeting With Potential Clients

Meeting with potential clients is a skill. Like any skill, it needs practice to perfect.

When you're meeting with a potential client, do you do most of the talking? You shouldn't. Your potential client should be doing most of the talking.

Having a hard time getting them to open up? Ask questions and ask the right questions. Let the client tell you the answers. Each answer will set you up for the next question(s).

Ask open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are great for clarifying something, but they aren't great for getting a conversation going and getting information.

Listen. Listening is a crucial skill. A lot of business people aren't very good at it. Most of the best business people are very good at it. Shut up and listen.

Take notes. It's not rude, it's flattering. Clients will see that what they're telling you is important enough to you that you are writing it down. DON'T hide behind a laptop typing out your notes. This is rude, and puts up a barrier between you and your client. You lose eye contact, and you'll end up losing your client. Type your notes into your laptop AFTER the meeting is over and the client has left. Better yet, wait until you're back in the office.

Follow-up. Send a quick email saying how much you enjoyed meeting with them and would be more than happy to answer any further questions they might have. Dial it up a notch and send a personal hand-written note in the mail. You'll stand out.

Let your enthusiasm show. Your potential client should see your enthusiasm, positive attitude, and genuine love for your work. Learn to love meeting with potential clients. It will show, and your clients will see you as genuine. Your booking rates will soar.

Meeting with potential clients is not a chore. Like anything else that is worth doing, it's worth doing right. Practice, strive to better yourself at it, and enjoy it! If you can't, your business is going to show it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Using the Nikon SB-26 in Slave Mode with CLS Speedlights

As I mentioned in my article on the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander, I often integrate one or more of my Nikon SB-26 speedlights in with the rest of the CLS speedlights. I've had a couple people ask about this, so I thought I'd cover it in a bit more detail.

(Photo by: Flickr User mnd.cntrl)

The Nikon SB-26 has a built in optical slave, which is why it's one of the Strobist's favourite flashes, and hence why it's been so popular (and more expensive) on ebay lately. The optical slave is the reason I buy used SB-26 speedlights whenever I can find them at a good price. I'm always on the lookout for more. :)

When I'm using the SB-26's with CLS controlled speedlights like the SB-900, SB-800, or SB-600, I assign them to duties that don't require me to adjust them much, if at all. For example, if I'm lighting a portrait subject with an SB-800 fired into a Softbox at camera left, and I have another SB-800 or SB-600 at camera right and dialed down for some fill, I sometimes like to set another flash to light the background just a wee bit.

Here's where the SB-26 set to optical slave comes in. I set it at a very low power, adjust the beam spread, and set it on one of the little Nikon AS-19 Speedlight stands. I then aim it at the background, take a test shot, and adjust the power and position until I'm happy with the effect. The beauty of it is, that the SB-26 is firing in sync with the rest of the CLS controlled speedlights via it's optical slave.

Another situation I use my SB-26's, is when I'm lighting a white background. You can make even a colored wall go white if you throw enough light into it, and four SB-26 speedlights will do the trick nicely. I position them at camera left low, camera left high, camera right low, and camera right high.

I use portable lightstands to get the height levels I want. You can either put the low lights on the floor on AS-19 stands, or attach them to the lower part of the light stand using a clamp and AS-19 combo or clamp and umbrella adapter combo. The high lights (no pun intended) go on top of the stands and all four are adjusted to form an even light distribution on the wall behind my subject. I do this by taking a test shot, checking the blinking highlights on my camera's LCD, and adjusting the lights accordingly so that I have nice, even lighting over the entire background.

When you're doing this type of set-up, be sure you have enough room to keep your subject well in front of your background to avoid bounce back light contamination. Ten feet or more is a good starting point. You can also minimize bounce back by using reflectors or large pieces of foamcore or cardboard positioned to shield your subject from any light spilling back onto them.

Of course, there's many more combinations where you can add an SB-26 into the CLS mix. You can even use an SB-26 with just the pop up flash on the camera. Dial your pop up flash down to -2 or so (or better yet, set it to Commander mode with no contributing flash output), and put an SB-26 set to optical slave off to camera left in an umbrella or softbox. Voila! You've got some decent portait lighting on the cheap.

The Nikon SB-26 is a great addition to any portable lighting set-up. It's well built, works great, reliable, powerful, and inexpensive. The built-in optical slave puts it at the top of the class as a remote off-camera light, and lets it play nicely with newer Nikon CLS speedlights like the SB-900, SB-800, and SB-600.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stuff I Want from Nikon

I've been watching and listening to all the rumours floating around lately, and I decided to make a list of stuff that I want from Nikon.

Nikon D400 - at least 16 Mega-pixels with cleaner high ISO than my D300 bodies have. Doesn't need video, but fine if they throw it in. Doesn't need the flip down LCD like the D5000, but again, it's ok if they throw it in. Not sure I'd buy one, but Nikon needs this one to stay competitive.

Nikon D4000 - might be the replacement for the aging D40. At least 12 Mega-pixels (mostly because they kinda have to as that's where the market is at these days), video (to keep Nikon's edge), and maybe the flip down LCD like the D5000's. I might buy one for a walk-around camera.

Nikon D800 - a 24 Mega-pixel version of the D700. No video. No flip down LCD. Just that SUPER SWEET sensor from the D3X in a D700 body at around $4K. I'll buy one for sure! (UPDATE: Looks like it going to be called the D700x.)

Point and Shoot Coolpix with a 1.6 crop sensor - easy, just take the D90 sensor and put it in a Coolpix body with a nice 24-60mm f2.8 lens. I'm all over this one too. I'll take one!

Nikon 85mm f1.2 G AF-S - a lot of folks want this in the PRO world. I might buy one if it comes down the pipe.

Nikon 85mm f1.4 G AF-S VR - this is probably the one I'd buy, guaranteed if it had VR. Actually, I'd be perfectly happy with an up-dated f1.8 version with VR.

Nikon 85mm f1.8 G AF-S VR - the above mentioned one I'd be perfectly happy with. Sold!

Nikon 28mm f1.2 G AF-S - another one that a lot of folks in the PRO world want. I probably wouldn't buy one, but you never know. :)

Nikon Soft-Box for SB-900, SB-800, and SB-600 flashes (and likely to fit all previous Nikon SB flashes) - extremely portable, about 12 inches square, folds down flat, very well made as befitting the Nikon brand name. Sells for about $100 or so. I'll take two!

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'll let you know if I think of anything else. :)

(or, let me know if you think of anything else)

UPDATE: Comparing the D700X vs Nikon D3X

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Uncle Bob - One Fatal Step

Watch where your walking. Seems pretty obvious advice, but it's easy enough to get caught-up in the moment during a busy photo shoot, wedding, or event. Next thing you know, you've knocked something over, stepped on something you shouldn't have (God forbid you do what Uncle Bob did above), or bumped into something.

We've all done it at some point. Sometimes it isn't even our fault. Somebody else has set something down where they shouldn't have, or they're standing right behind you trying to see over your shoulder, you don't see them, and oops!

Seems like such an obvious thing, but so easily over-looked when we're working quickly and absorbed in what we're doing. Periodically take a second to take a quick look around and re-orient yourself. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander

There are a lot of options for working with off-camera lighting, but I'd have to say my favourite is the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander. This little gem just gets it right.

The biggest advantage of using the SU-800 over a Pocketwizard or similar type remote, is the full control of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) that the SU-800 provides. The SU-800 functions as a wireless commander for the SB-R200, SB-900, SB-800 and SB-600 Speedlight units, allowing you to fully control them off camera. You can use them in full TTL, Joe McNally style, or you can control them manually.

But what's that you say... you can do that with an SB-800 or SB-900...

The Nikon SU-800 is small and light. You hardly notice it sitting on top of your camera. Two big advantages over using an SB-800 or SB-900 as a controller.

The SU-800 controls are intuitive and easy to work with. You can make adjustments very quickly while working, without disrupting the shoot by having to walk around adjusting remote lights. I find the the SU-800 to be faster to adjust and work with than an SB-800 or SB-900 as a controller.

Those are the big ones advantages of the SU-800. If small and light, more intuitive and easier to work with, don't do it for you, then you're probably better off sticking with an SB-800 or SB-900 as a controller. I have to emphasize how big these advantages are though. Small and light alone is enough for me. Add the more intuitive and easier controls, and it's a done deal.

Granted, there are times when I will use an SB-800 as a controller instead of the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander. Outdoors in full sunlight, the directional head of the SB-800 can offer an advantage over the SU-800 when it comes to range and positioning. Since you can aim the head directly at the remote speedlights, you can get a little boost in range. If you zoom the head out as well, you get a fairly substantial boost in range.

Indoors, I always use the SU-800. It's a dream for studio work and works great for weddings and other events. You can control all your light outputs quickly and easily without leaving your shooting position. Sometimes I just feel spoiled using the little SU-800.

With the SU-800, you can control an unlimited number of Speedlights in up to three different groups. It has 4 independent channels so you don't get stuck having someone else triggering your remotes in competitive shooting environments. As an added bonus, the SU-800 has a built-in AF assist illuminator for critical focus in low-light situations... great when you want to shoot fast primes using available light in darker situations.

Since the Nikon Creative Lighting System operates via light bursts, radio triggers like the Pocketwizard system will give you more range, especially out of doors. As I mentioned above, an SB-800 or an SB-900 Speedlight will give you added range outdoors by zooming the head and pointing it at your remote speedlights, but the Pocketwizards will give you even greater range. Sometimes range is the deciding factor, but most of the time I'd rather have the advanced controls that the SU-800 and Nikon CLS offers.

Here's a little tip I use that saves money on CLS speedlights. When I want or need to use extra lights, I'll often add one or two of my Nikon SB-26 Speedlights into the mix. By setting them to slave, they'll fire when the rest of the Nikon CLS controlled speedlights fire. Usually I'll use them in position where I know I probably won't have to adjust them much, like if I'm just adding a bit of light into a background. That way I can set 'em and forget 'em, and I don't need them to be controllable via the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander.

If you haven't tried the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander, DON'T BOTHER... unless you feel like spending a little extra money as you're probably going to want one. :)