Mother Bear and Cub Sleeping in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Mother Bear and Cub Sleeping in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

I stumbled across a family of bears sleeping the heat of the day away while photographing the Cade’s Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountian National Park. There were at least 3 young cubs in this tree, only 2 of them are clearly visible in the image because the tree is in the way. It can be so ridiculously difficult to find a bear or group of bears that you can get some nice sharp images of with out getting too close. The Park Service has strict rules and regulations about viewing and interacting with the wildlife in the Park. It is very important for the safety of the animals AND the visitors of the park.                ...
Lens Hacking – the easy way

Lens Hacking – the easy way

I became interested in photography when I was going through High School. I spent the first two years working in the schools darkroom (read: storage closet that also held a photographic enlarger). I also spent those first two years borrowing a Pentax K100o. Shortly before graduation, my Grandfather gave me an older Revuflex T SLR camera that was his when he was in his 20’s and 30’s. I used that camera for a year or two, and eventually upgraded to a k1000 own. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with these types of cameras; they are built like tanks. Made from aluminum or steal. They are heavy, and fairly large for what they offer. They worked only as a manual camera: manual focus, and manual exposure. The Pentax k1000 was somewhat unique, in that the k mount lenses that it used were very common. I read somewhere, that there are 25+ million K mount lenses out there in the market. That is a lot. The collections of lenses available to a k mount or an m42 screw mount are vast. I eventually bought in to the autofocus idea… and after getting my first camera, was very disappointed in the amount of lenses available and the cost of said lenses. I shoot canon now, and while canon does have a significant lens catalog, I have always found my collection missing a few special purpose lenses. Then I bought a Canon EOS M. If you want to put an older canon manual lens on your canon ef mount camera there is a little thing that you need to understand...
4 Reasons for the still photographer to try Magic Lantern

4 Reasons for the still photographer to try Magic Lantern

I installed magic lantern on my EOS M a few weeks ago, and I am going to share 4 reasons why you might want to try it as well. Magic lantern is a firmware hack for canon cameras. You install it in a process very similar to updating the firmware on your camera. I am using the most up to date version of ML for the M, which is still not a stable release. There are some potential bugs, but they do not seem to affect every camera, and I have had no problems with it.  The EOS M is already a great little camera, and the Magic Lantern firmware adds even more functionality to it.  The amount of stuff added to the camera is initially a little overwhelming. For the videographer, there is some really nice stuff, most notably – HD Raw video. I have not been able to test out the raw video because I do not have a memory card that is big or fast enough. I just dabble in video, so I will be focusing on the features that I have found work for my needs. Focus Peaking If you use manual focus lenses like I do, this is probably the most amazing feature I have ever seen on a digital camera. There are 2 flavors here, the first is normal focus peaking, which overlays a color artifact on the parts of the image that are in focus. This makes focusing possible with out zooming the viewfinder in 5x or 10x. It work amazingly well if you are using a tilt-shift lens, or a very...
What to do with an old camera?

What to do with an old camera?

I have been a canon user for some time, and I have either been very lucky with the cameras that I purchased, or canon makes awesome cameras. The first dslr that I purchased from canon was the canon rebel. The original one. I bought one in 2003, and at the time it retailed for $899.00. The unique thing about this camera is, it was the first dslr with an interchangeable lens to be offered at less than $1000.00. It was quite a bargain in its day. Fast-forward 10 years, (consumer electronics don’t hold their value over time very well) I have used the rebel to the max. It is dented, scratched, the leather/rubber handgrip is peeling away, it shows many battle scars, but it still keeps working like the day I bought it. I thought briefly about selling it, but I would only get (maybe) a hundred bucks. That amount just didn’t seem to be worth it to me. So, instead, I sent it off to Lifepixel (www.lifepixel.com). LifePixel converts cameras to “see” in Infrared light only. For a couple hundred bucks, they installed an opaque infrared filter over the sensor of the rebel. That filter cuts out almost all the visible light to the camera so it only can “see” infrared. My camera is now sensitive to light form 850nm to around 1200nm. Before the conversion it was sensitive from about 350nm to 850nm (here is a little more info if you want to learn more about light color). Here are some samples from my infrared camera....

The best photography gear that is not photography gear

  I have had quite a few gear posts to my blog recently. Well… Here is one more. Winter is on the way out. I am looking forward to spring. Once the temps start warming up and the trees start budding up I will be heading out for a little hiking and camping and a ton of photography. I often plan trips that are not possible or feasible to do without an overnight camping trip. For example, this spring I am planning a trip to a local landmark; it will be a 3-mile walk to the subject. Not very far really; but I want to photograph it just after the sunsets. That makes things a little more difficult. I, generally, do not like, or recommend hiking on unfamiliar trails after dark. It is very easy to get lost, or hurt. So, I will end up making this trip with an overnight stay at the intended photography location. In my youth, I did quite a bit of hiking and camping. It was one of my favorite pastimes.  As I have gotten older, things like a comfortable place to sleep have become far more important to me. I used to use a North Face Tadpole 23 Tent. Which is a legendary tent by itself. A good friend gave it to me when he got to old to go out on the trail any more. I used the hell out of that tent for about 15 years, and it still works as good now as the day I received it. There is only one problem with that tent. I just got tired of lying on the...

Best battery holder ever

I shoot quite a bit, most weeks I shoot 5-10 sessions. I also shoot a little of everything, from weddings, portraits, even some commercial work. This kind of schedule has me shooting on location quite frequently, and I tend to shoot a lot of strobist style lighting. Small light-weight speed-lights, minimal gear, etc. etc. I say “minimal” but that still means carrying a lot of gear. And a lot of batteries. I spent several years, trying to keep good batteries separated from the spent ones, and they would almost always get mixed up before then of a shoot.  I tried the little plastic cases, but they would eventually pop open and spill batteries inside the camera bag. Here is a simple DIY project that will solve that problem. Pick up some simple elastic webbing at any craft store ( I found it in Wal-mart) and use a stapler to make slots for the batteries to fit in to. If batteries are in the elastic holders, they are good. when I have used the batteries they go in one of the compartments in my bag. I always know which batteries are good and which batteries are...