Got New Gear?

Holding an SLR

So, the presents have been opened, the lunch has been gobbled down, and the kids over-stimulation has sent them into a frenzy of running around outside.  Now what?  Well, if you’re here, it’s likely because you got some new gear for Christmas.  So, first off, congratulations on the new gear – I am sure that on some level, I’ll be green with envy.

The good news is that learning all about your new gear is all right here!  Because regardless of gear, some techniques work across platforms and are part of the “timeless technique” of the field.  One of the most basic of these is learning how to hold your gear properly.  This is one of those things that often isn’t covered in manuals, but if you stopped in here, you’re just in time to check out the videos I’ve prepared just for this purpose.  Check out how to hold a Point and Shoot, iPhone, or SLR camera below:

Point and Shoot Technique:

iPhone (or any smart phone):


How to Hold Your SLR

Holding an SLR

As you can tell from the videos and articles, this is not just about Canon gear.  Anyone with any gear can improve their craft with sound technique and practice.  So, as we move toward 2013, keep this in mind.  More tk, and enjoy the holiday!

The June Winner is….

June Contest Winner: Jawdoc

Okay, no drum rolls, no fancy build-up, gonna make it easy peasy this month!  The winner of the free copy of Photo Mechanic from the folks over at Camera Bits, is none other than:


June Contest Winner: Jawdoc

His image of the Tilt-a-Whirl (or whatever you call it) really stood out for me in terms of the sense of motion and speed, so congrats to you sir.  If you could be so kind as to drop me an email, I will forward your name and info over to the folks at Camera Bits who are ready for delivery of your installation code for Photo Mechanic!  One final nod of thanks to them as well, for their generous contribution for the June Giveaway!

And now, for the July Giveaway, our next prize is yet another doozy!  The good folks over at Thinktank Photo have generously sent some of their latest product line to me for review, and now up for grabs is none other than their already well-received Streetwalker Pro bag.  This holds an astounding amount of gear for its size, allows for a tripod, and much more.  I’ve not had a chance to kick its tires yet (so to speak), but you know a review is going to come up soon for this month, so keep an eye and ear open!

It retails for $159 US, and this one is a beauty!


Again, because the prize will be shipped from my location rather than Thinktank, the shipping requirementsare built into this months guidelines:

1.  All images must be between 600-800 px on the longest dimension.

2.  Each person can submit up to two images

3.  The theme is STREET, fitting for a Streetwalker Pro

4.  Contest Deadline is:  July 31st at midnight Mountain Time (GMT -7).  Add or subtract for your own time zone as needed.

5.  US Residents only…sorry international folks.

6. The photo must be included in this Flickr thread.

7. The Flickr photo must be downloadable – we share the winning photo via announcement here on the blog and in newsletters – so I need to get it to do that!

8. Have fun! Remember photography is supposed to be fun so keep that in mind as you approach the May giveaway.

9. Reminder Guidelines and Rules of Engagement links are here for easy reference.

Special thanks to not only Camera Bits and Think Tank photo, but to all the sponsors – and for readers out there, if you would like to see a product reviewed and/or offered up for a giveaway, feel free to drop suggestions in the comments – that’s where vendors look! 🙂

The link to enter the contest is here – good luck to all!

Software Review: Photo Mechanic

Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits

So, after my podcast with Kevin Mullins, I’ve been tinkering around with the Demo version then the NFR version of Photo Mechanic from the folks at Camera Bits…and I’ve gotta say, I am impressed.  For sheer volume management, Photo Mechanic blows Lightroom away.  You can process so many images on a straight basis of “keeper/reject” using a quick glance at the thumbnail and when I have high volume shoots, a program like Photo Mechanic can make things go so much more quickly.  Think I am exaggerating?  Check out this case study:

Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of being the photographer for an annual charity drive for Ducks Unlimited.  Over the course of three hours, I captured about 300 images.  Naturally, some of the shots were before things started (sort of behind the scenes), others were of the attendees, and then others of the auction itself, including products, bidders, and (naturally) the auctioneer.  Afterward, I took the time to run some comparisons.  In order to get as close to a side-by-side comparison as possible, I imported to Lightroom in four different ways:

  • Lightroom with 1:1 previews – from USB attached Drobo
  • Lightroom with 1:1 previews – from local hard drive
  • Lightroom with minimal previews – from USB attached Drobo
  • Lightroom with minimal previews – from local hard drive

The initial import kind of told me some interesting information:

LR – 1:1 – Drobo LR – 1:1 – C Drive LR – minimal – Drobo LR – minimal – C Drive
34 minutes 29 minutes 90 seconds 60 seconds

What does this tell me? Well, for starters, that the rendering of 1:1 previews really adds to the processing time for Lightroom. No surprise though, we already knew that, right? This data just kind of validates the theory. But from the Drobo versus the C drive, this tells me that the difference even with USB really is negligible. SO many people have expressed concerns over the data transfer rates for a cable-attached Drobo, the need for Firewire, SATA and all that jazz. When honestly, it looks like the difference isn’t all that significant at this level.

So, how did Photo Mechanic do?  Well, pretty well, considering.  In Photo Mechanic, it’s not “importing” photos, the software “ingests” them.  Probably just semantics, but the speed is marked, to say the least.  My ingest rates (there is no minimal thumbnail size – it’s always full size), was four minutes for both the Drobo and the C drive!  That’s right, four minutes! A 300 image import took literally 10% of the time it took Lightroom.

Making the first wave of picks and deletions using Photo Mechanic is a no-brainer for me anymore.  I will likely restrict PM to just doing initial imports and deletions though as the editing tools from Lightroom past the initial import/ingest stage are significant enough to merit making the move from PM to LR.  The savings in import time is enough that I finished my post production in less than half of the time it would normally have taken me.  In fact, the Ducks Unlimited event is now out the door, and in the hands of the Chairman!

So, take my advice, if you have the extra $150, consider adding this to your software arsenal – it’s going to save you tons of time in post production!  Oh wait, what’s that?  You don’t have that kind of money?  Well, no worries, there’s still time in this months’ Flickr giveaway to enter.  Just submit your “Speed” themed photo to the June Contest thread for your chance to win!  Thanks to the folks at Camera Bits for their generous contribution and to give me the time to kick the tires on this great software solution!


One final reminder – the first 250 buyers of the DIY Legal Kit fulfillment has almost ended.  There’s literally only a couple left, and if you don’t take advantage of this awesome offer to get the kit at half off, they are expiring at the end of June, so it’s pretty much now or never!  Stop here to pick up the 6 page set of legal forms for a limited time at $15!