Do you carry your photography equipment in a bona fide camera bag? There’s a contingent of photographers who think camera bags are thief-magnets and instead use other bags. While I have to agree that if you leave your camera bag just anywhere, with all your costly equipment inside, you’re kind of asking for trouble. Yet I don’t think the solution is to use a diaper bag or some other incognito carrying case not designed for camera equipment.
Will this make you a target?
If you’re the proud owner of some serious camera equipment, theft shouldn’t be your only concern when out on a shoot. You also need to think about the elements—heat, rain, and other moisture—and have a quality case that protects from them. You’ll also want compartments designed to fit and organize the accessories you own, so that they, too, are well protected (not to mention easy to find right when you need them; a photo-op won’t keep forever). Note that when rain is really a concern, hard cases that aren’t just water-resistant but waterproof are a necessity.
The best way to prepare for the potential theft of your equipment is to have it insured. Keep it close to you at all times while you’re shooting, too. If you still want to toss your camera and equipment into a diaper bag, go ahead. Just be sure to put it in an actual camera bag first. Want to get really crazy about fending off the bad guys? Check out this photographer’s experiment in “uglifying” his camera while shooting in Rio de Janeiro—and managing to trick thieves into preferring his cheap mobile phone over his pricey camera!
If you can get your hands on a copy of it, I highly recommend reading a now out-of-print novel called The 79 Squares. In libraries, you’d find it shelved in the young adult fiction section. It tells the story of a 14-year-old delinquent and an old man he’s wronged. The penalty for the boy’s crime, determined by the old man, is that the boy must come to the elder’s house to study the garden, one square at a time. We’re talking all 79 squares of it. An unlikely friendship is forged as this punishment transforms into an experience of enlightenment for the troubled teen.
So, what’s all this got to do with photography? Well, just imagine spending a whole hour studying a 2’x2’ square of your yard, your garden, a park, or anywhere else in the natural world. What would it be like to look at each blade of grass? At every tiny insect? Does it sound like torture? It’s actually a form of meditation, a mental getaway, and a great way to find something beautiful to photograph. Sometimes the most awesome things are hard to see if you’re not really looking:
The age-old adage says we should stop and smell the roses. I say we also look at them—from the tiniest vein on a leaf to the smallest thorn on the stem. Slow down. Look closely. See what you (and your camera) have been missing.
Interested in getting even closer? Here are 6 quick tips for shooting macro photography:
- A good sturdy tripod is essential.
- A general rule of thumb is to use a maximum f-stop of f/16.
- Experiment with larger apertures to throw more of the subject out of focus, for artistic effect.
- Choose a simple background so that it doesn’t visually compete with the main subject.
- Use the fastest shutter speed possible and a ring flash or flash units if shooting at a low aperture.
Did you know that every year the Pantone Corporation chooses a Color of the Year? I didn’t until recently, so I kind of got to wondering how they make their selection. Is it arbitrary? Turns out, no. Pantone apparently spends months analyzing worldwide color influences from things like the entertainment industry, traveling art collections, new artists, popular travel destinations, technology, and even upcoming major sports events. In a way, they don’t choose the color; they notice it. The 2013 Color of the Year is emerald. Incidentally, emerald is also the birthstone for the current month. So, with spring in full swing, it seems like a good time to talk about photographing the color green. I’m already noticing a lot more “green” photography from Lawrence Camera customers sharing their images on our Facebook page.
Photo by Linda Shannon-Morgan
Photo by Jim Gaston
Photo by Patty Miller
If you’d like to join the party, here are some helpful hints for photographing the color green:
- Go with complementary colors. You can make green really pop by pairing it with reds, purples, and/or pinks. For nature photography, you don’t need to look far: Mother Nature is very generous in providing complementary colors! Keep in mind that green is a receding color, so if you pair it with an advancing color like yellow or red, it can appear to recede into the background. Pairing advancing and receding hues can add great depth to a photograph.
- Go monotone. Showcase the color’s different tonal shades. One way to do this is to incorporate a reflection of your subject using something other than a mirror so that you get the suggestion of the same green but not the same exact green. Of course, Mother Nature is also generous here by providing lots of different greens in addition to actual shade, as in tree shade.
- Use a polarizing filter. A polarizing filter increases color saturation and can help your greens (and blues) appear more vibrant. Go easy, though. A sapphire noon sky or blindingly green foliage can make photos appear downright unrealistic.
- Beware of color casting. If there’s a lot of green in a scene, be vigilant. The brain makes adjustments so that the eyes don’t see the resulting color cast that the camera will capture. Try custom white balance, or fix the casting later using photo-editing software like Photoshop.
- Shoot slightly under exposure. Shooting slightly under-exposure can create more vivid colors in your photos. Green has a large range in brightness values—one of the largest of all hues—and is the hue to which the human eye is most sensitive. That is, our eyes can detect the huge variety of green tones created by different brightness values. Take advantage!
A lot can change in 40 years. It boggles my mind to think of all we have now that we didn’t have 40 years ago: the personal computer, cell phones, air bags, microwaves, and, one of our personal favorites, digital cameras. Since Lawrence Photo opened in 1973, the Berlin wall fell, apartheid ended, our ozone layer sprouted a leak, and reality TV was introduced. Let’s not forget Harry Potter and the Simpsons. We’ve seen a lot.
After 40 years in the camera and photo processing business, let’s just say our little shop is pretty comfortable with change. In fact, we’re so comfortable that right now we’re the ones creating it. (Thank you to everyone for excusing our dust while we remodel!) I hope you’ll like the new look and feel of our space once the dust is cleared, but I also want to point out that the real change has been taking place under the surface of all that hammering, sawing, and painting. That is, with the purchase of new technology and equipment, we’ve been quietly preparing to give you a whole lot more options for what to do with those beautiful pictures sitting on your SD cards.
You’ll still be able to upload files to our website for photo processing, but I’d like to invite you to come in with your SD card when our remodel is complete later this month. Get a firsthand look at the amazing things you’re going to be able to do locally with your photographs. Let’s talk about your ideas. How big do you want to go? Where do you want to display the finished product? What kind of gifts would you like to create? Let’s open up photo files together and get a look at what’s possible. Because while we’ve always been happy to change with the changing times, there’s one distinct exception: Our 1973 corner-store mentality is here for the long haul. We still like to get to know customers, like to see what you create, like to hear your stories, and like being able to personally help you take your craft to the next level.
Do you know anyone who learns best by doing? They’re called kinesthetic (or tactile) learners, people who prefer learning through hands-on experience. They’re the ones who say, “Let’s just get started already. I’ll learn as I go.” Don’t hand them an instruction manual to study. Don’t try to explain to them how to play a new card game while you deal them their hand. Don’t try to show them how to learn a new computer program unless, by god, their own fingers are on the keyboard.
Only about five percent of the population leans toward kinesthetic learning. If you, your child, or someone else you know is a kinesthetic learner who wants to learn photography—and good headway isn’t being made—may I make a suggestion to you? Move to shooting on film for a while, with a camera that is decidedly not automated.
Digital cameras are a marvelous thing, but shooting on film requires a person to get much more deeply engaged, mentally and physically, with the camera itself. Because the photographer needs to wield physical control over the moving parts—and not just by pushing an automating or semi-automating button—they’ll better learn why each component is there, what it does, and how it works with all the other parts. In other words, kinesthetic learning abounds.
Similarly, shooting digitally means the photographer might corner themselves into using just one ISO speed. Using film forces the fledgling photographer to play around more with shutter speed and aperture. Exploring the results of varying combinations of these three photography building blocks, I think the kinesthetic learner will develop a deeper understanding of how a camera actually works—and, eventually, how a good memory is made.
Here’s a quick little fun quiz to determine what kind of learner you are: