Raquette Lake, 2012

RaquetteLake-27

In what has become an annual tradition for the Anderson family, the men reconvened for our annual canoe trip to “re-connect with nature”.  I use quotations because the older we get, the less removed from society we are.  Now granted, there is no internet, no wifi, and no cellular service for many miles around, but when coolers of beverages, grilling foods, eggs, and yes – ice cream, make the trip, we’re are hardly roughing it anymore.

So, how does this relate to photography?  As luck would have it, the Canon G12 was still with me for the duration of this trip.  I did have an SLR with me as well, in case I started butting up against the limitations of the poster boy of the Powershot series camera.  Suffice to say, I did hit the limits, but only once, and that was during some flash testing.

What I liked

1.  Shutter Speed:  The bane of P&S cameras historically is response or lag time on shutter release.  The G12 was no slouch, offering a very quick response time.  Granted, it was not always milliseconds away from a great capture, leaving me with several shots that had to be thrown out due to blur, but otherwise, I was successful about 95% of the time.

2.  Image Quality:  I tried to reproduce several similar composition of years past (see those galleries here and here), and think the G12 stood its ground quite well.  While I could have shot in raw, the advantage of P&S cameras is to click and go, so I kept my settings to jpg for the duration of the trip.

3.  Video:  Let’s not kid ourselves, video is where things are headed, and the G12 was able to really stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any portable camcorder in the market today.

4.  Hot Shoe: A big reason why I had chosen the G12 to review is because of its ability to accommodate the Canon Speedlight series.  I took a 580EX II with me, and much to my delight, I was able to fire off several shots with both the flash mounted to the hot shoe, and using my wireless trigger set (more on that in a future post)

5.  Inter-valometer:  An inter-valometer lets you take shots at intervals, say every 5 seconds, 10 seconds, one minute, etc.  I liked that the G12 had a setting where you could set it up to take photos at several intervals over a specified period of time.  While I didn’t get a chance to use it on this short trip, it was something I learned about afterwards that made me think, “Cool!”

What I didn’t like

1.  Menus:  I know, I need to get over it, but the menu structure is different from the trusty rusty days of the 20D, 30D, and even 40D setups.  It took me about 5 more minutes to get the menus down because things were in different locations!  A small nit, I know, but I certainly know my 40D and 5D better than the G12!

2.  Lenses:  The other bane of P&S cameras is that you only have one lens to choose from.  This is why the SLR (and now the newest 3rd generation of cameras – mirrorless lenses) give more creative options.  I was limited to the focal range offered on the G12, which is equivalent to about a 28mm – 140mm range on an SLR (verified on several sources, but here’s a site I should be plugging more, Camera Source)

3.  Price Point:  Sorry Canon, but a price point of $500+ for a P&S camera?  I can get an SLR for only $100 more which opens up many more options, not only for lenses, but filters and many other acouterments like flash accessories as well.  $450 was the average price point and this just seems inordinately high for this breed of camera.  Now maybe the folks at Canon are trying to position themselves for moving into the mirrorless market with the announcement of their first in that line with the EOS-M series at $799, but that’s a nut I can’t crack! (More to come on the EOS-M line as well…)

*****

I could wax on endlessly, but you undoubtedly want to see the shots I came away with more than read my own prattling about the camera and all its features, so let’s just get to the goods:

Building a Basic Filter Kit

Joe Farace Blogs

Joe Farace Blogs

Guest post by Joe Farace

One of the easiest ways to improve your images is to use camera filters but like so much in the photo world, life is rarely that simple. That’s because photographers seem to be of two minds about filters: Some purists don’t like them because they abhor anything coming between reality and the captured image. True filter fans worry less about resolution charts and just like to have fun with their photography. When buying filters there is one overriding concern to follow: Don’t put a $19.95 filter on a $1,000 lens. You should purchase the best filters that you can afford but if you are in pursuit of “The Ultimate Image” that shouldn’t deter you. Get a piggy bank and start saving those pennies!

A Polarizer can deepen the intensity of blue skies, as well as reduce or eliminate glare from non-metallic objects. Many manufacturers offer Warm Polarizers that combines a polarizer and a warming filter. Polarizers are available in traditional linear or circular versions. Take the time to read your camera’s manual to find out what kind you need for your specific SLR and purchase the proper one for your specific camera.

If you want to get the ethereal effect of blurring while photographing moving water and can’t select a slow enough ISO speed, neutral density (ND) filters placed in front of your lens allow you to use slow enough shutter speeds to photograph waterfalls or river flow over rocks. Neutral density filters absorb light evenly throughout the entire visible spectrum, effectively altering exposure without causing a color shift. ND filters are available in different densities of gray and are rated by how many f-stops they decrease your aperture settings.

One of most useful tools in my filter toolkit are graduated density filters that have a clear area at the bottom and somewhere around the middle, start blending into an area of increasing color or neutral density. Graduated density filters allow you to control areas of excessive brightness such as a sky and bring them into balance with the rest of a scene by darkening and possibly adding color. The colored area of these filters covers less than half of the filter, but the effect can be adjusted by moving the filter up and down vertically or by rotating the filter folder, so there is no pressing requirement to split the image in equal and perhaps boring parts.

Most companies make color graduated neutral density filters that take what you see and “kick it up notch.” The final effect of using graduated density filters will vary based on the distance of the filter from the front of lens and the density of filter used. The effect is more pronounced when a wide-angle lens is used at small apertures, with just the opposite effect is produced at wider apertures with longer lenses. Other graduated filters add colors ranging from mauve to brown and are in pairs of the same color, with one having a mild effect with the other, darker one, being used to create more dramatic effects.

Joe is co-author of “Better Available Light Digital Photography”

Visit his blog “Saving the World, One Pixel at a Time”

Photographer Gets Sued – Watch out!

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For those of you that may not have been hearing the rumblings in the photo community for the past several days (going on near a week now) – there is quite an uproar going on about a photographer that is getting sued for $300,000!  That’s right, three hundred thousand dollars!  it’s a litigious society we live in for sure, but this borders on ridiculous…a photographer shot a wedding, shared the images with the clients, and after sharing literally hundreds of them on Facebook and friends/family singing praises – the attorney father decided to sue the photographer.  It’s a crazy scenario, and instead of regaling you with all the details (which you can read and watch here, here,  here, and here), I’m just going to chime in with a brief heads up – this could all have been avoided with a simple contract!

It’s no big secret that I have had a DIY Legal kit out for a while and this kit has just that – a contract!  The photographer could have avoided a lot of headaches by using one of these.  Think about it – does $30 for a simple kit make sense to avoid a $300,000 lawsuit?  It does to me!  And the best part is that I’ve also done an update to address a great point that Gary Fong brings up about what constitutes an “acceptable” photograph.  Short and simple enough of an explanation, but is it in your contract?  It’s in this one!  It’s a very small update, but does add the terms of an acceptable photograph.  If you already have the kit – it’s a simple set of text to add, and I include the full text in the YouTube video below, so make sure you check it out!

Are you protected?  Do you have an event contract?  If not, there’s no better time than the present to cover yourself and your assets!  Follow the link here to grab my own DIY Kit or find your own assembly of Legal forms on the interwebs to protect yourself and your assets – if you don’t no one else will!