Philosophy about Photography

Knowing Your Gear

After a couple of refreshing conversations with my Aunt and a close friend about various aspects of photography, it has inspired me to start a new series, “Philosophy about Photography”. A series based on my love of wisdom about the art of photography. Along with my thoughts and ideas that I’ve gathered from my time behind my camera. Let’s kick things off with the importance of knowing your gear.

When people around me see my images and realize I’m a photographer, the most frequent asked question, “Is whatever camera/brand any good?”And after a  bit of Q & A, I could steer them in a reasonable path to a camera that should suit their needs. But now… my answer is totally different. If asked the same question today my response would be, “Heck no, that camera is complete garbage!” Lol The fact is all of them are, if one doesn’t know how to use it properly. Gear doesn’t make one a photographer. In my opinion, one must have a firm understanding of exposure, an eye for what makes a stunning image and lastly know the limitations of his or her gear.

Sadly, I had to dust off my gear for this shot.

So, the obvious question is “How does one get to know their gear?” There’s plenty of ways but I want to share two habits I feel strongly about and use myself. I’ve written about both in the past and feel it’s time to revisit them both. First is to sit down and read the manuals of ALL your gear. Discover and experiment what it can and can not do. Then as frequently as you can, put what you learned into action. And not just once a month or only when you go to some event. Bring your camera everywhere you go as much as possible. Take photos of anything and everything. And don’t be afraid to test out those unused functions and features. Try, fail, learn and repeat. There’s no question, you’re going to fuck up some images. But it’s OK, just as long as you learn from your mistakes. The sooner you get rid of the idea that every image you capture is going to be perfectly exposed, razor sharp and beautifully composed the better off you’ll be.

And the second method I want to share is to develop a shooting routine. One that helps you slow down, focus in on what’s catching your eye and aid in how you’re going to capture an image. Talk to photographers that share their thoughts, knowledge and experience of shooting with you. If they have some form of a routine, try theirs. If it works, cool. If not, change what doesn’t. Heck add whatever that helps you and make it your own. Here’s a link to my shooting routine,

Both of these methods can help you get familiar with the controls and functions of your gear. Forming a muscle memory that allows you to change your settings thoughtlessly and effortlessly. The added benefit of knowing your gear is that it is a huge confidence builder. And having that confidence in yourself behind the camera is not only priceless but necessary as well. Time in time again, you will start to rely on your skills as a photographer and not the luck of spray & pray.

My perception of photography is that it is about creating images that gets people to have some form of an emotional response. Gear is only a tool that allows you to do so. And that’s why I feel it is so important to know how to use them properly. Thankfully the more time you spend behind your camera creating images, the better you’ll get at it. I would love to hear about any habits or practices you all have and use when it comes to knowing your gear. Please share them in the comment section below.

Stay safe and thanks for stopping by,

Steven

Fall Color with my new little Sony

During my first of many adventures in Japan, I noticed that I had a camera gap. Meaning I felt there were times where my DSLRs were too much camera to use while site seeing. As well as my iPhone 11 Pro max did not offer the versatility of a point & shoot camera. I really enjoy how freely it is to capture images with it and not interrupt the pace of the experience. But the major drawback of smartphone camera systems is the inability to change settings such as aperture, shutter or ISO.I still love shooting any of my DSLRs but… they are cumbersome when it come to taking photos in the moment without becoming an observer.

And ever since then, I’ve wanted a point and shoot camera to fill in that gap. Something pocket size with a respectable auto focus system, about 20 megapixels and with a fast wide to medium zoom. And Thursday, my new Sony’s ZV-1 showed up. It has a 20.1-megapixel sensor, Zeiss 9.4-25.7mm (35mm equivalent, 24-70mm) F/1.8-2.8 lens. It too has a shit ton of autofocus points and I can fit it into any of my pockets with no problem. Now with new gear, it’s testing time.

I wanted to spend some time getting familiar with my new Sony’s features and functions along with capturing some images of the fall foliage in and around Detroit. After a long non-creative workday Friday, I was eager to get home and play with my new little point & shoot. But unfortunately, Mother Nature was being a bitch and was not willing to cooperate. The weather conditions were hit or miss, and I’d hope for more favorable weather in the morning. Woke up early Saturday morning but my plans were to do chores before playing. I needed to start laundry, gas up my car along with do some grocery shopping. And after that, I was going to go and have some fun at Belle isle with my little Sony.

During the overnight hours, the temperature dropped down close to freezing, so I remote started the car. Grabbed my glasses, wallet, keys, mask and was out the door. Stopped at 7-Eleven to get gas before heading to the grocery store. And as I was patiently pumping gas in the frosty morning air, I looked up and noticed the abundance of fall color popping all around me in the soft morning light. That’s when I heard myself say, “Go back home, get your camera and let’s go shooting!”

So, I raced back to my apartment, left the car running and doubled stepped it up the stairs. I thrust the key in the door, twist right, push and the door fly’s open! Sprinted directly to my cheap Meijer nightstand where my Sony was chilling and scooped it up. Locked the door behind me and it was a mad rush to the car. As I made my way to the freeway, I spotted a vibrant autumn scene at a nearby church. It looked like there was something going on at the entrance of the church and I didn’t want to disturb them. So, I timidly pulled in the driveway, stopped short and turned on my hazards. With my little Sony in hand, I respectfully and inconspicuously captured the stunning autumn scene. Then jumped back in my ride for some quick heat and was excited to continue taking photos on at Belle isle.

Once on the island, it took me a hot minute to scope out my subjects. And when I did, my little Sony preformed magically. It rekindled my dwindling passion I once had with photography when I first began. I found myself wanting to shoot anything and everything. One subject after another, I stop, half ass park my car, rapidly compose and shoot then hop back in to warm up and chimp. After about an hour or so, that star of ours was well on its daily journey to the horizon and it was time to make my way back to Southfield.

After a few stops to get groceries, I made it back to my apartment safe and sound. And once I got my food put away it was time to see how I did with my little Sony. The images straight from the camera are amazing. Sharp details and rich colors. And no, I did not bump up the saturation or add any vibrant in post. (Only minor exposure adjustments and resized them). I was a little leery about the touch screen and using it to select what I wanted to be in focus. But the more I used it, it quickly became second nature and thoughtless to use. The only issue with my new Sony is that it didn’t come with some type of lanyard or hand strap. But a quick search on Amazon took care of that.

All in all, I’m really excited about my new ZV-1 and the rekindling of my passion for photography. I can’t wait for the United States to get its shit together and get healthy so I can safely travel again and experience new adventures.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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Aviation Expo 2020

During all the years I traveled from one airshow to another, I’ve always played with the idea of a “Dream airshow”. If time didn’t matter, what would it look like? What aircraft, demos and jet teams would attend. 2020 is looking more and more like a year without airshows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I decided to put together “Aviation Expo 2020”, a virtual airshow based on images from my photo archive. There’s aircraft I wish I could add to this, but I haven’t gotten around to shooting them yet. But after searching my vast archive, I did manage to round up a very impressive group of aircraft. Here’s my adventure from “Aviation Expo 2020”

After parking the rental car, I geared up and made my way to the staging area for the morning photo tour. The participants were hand pick and I was lucky enough to be selected. The tarmac was laid out perfectly. There were no tents, Porto potty’s, food vendors or anything around the aircraft to clutter up the background while shooting. Canopy covers were removed and everyone in the group was respectful, courteous and professional. Enjoying the spectacular morning light and the historic aircraft, time quickly passed, and the main gates were open and flying soon began.

Before the morning humidity burnt off, the flight activities started with a vapor contest. Each participating aircraft got 5 passes to make the most impressive vapor. Including prop and wingtip vertices and the showstopper, the full cone. The USN Super Hornet demo team with multiple cones, was the mornings clear winner.

Following the vapor contest, there was going to be only 4 heritage flights. But with so many qualified pilots and variety of aircraft, it quickly got out of hand with all the number of different combinations. But of all the amazing formations, we didn’t get to see a “Thunderbolt Flight” with a P-47 and a A-10.

After the heritage flight fiasco was over, it was time for the photo pass challenge. The challenge was split into two categories, single and two ship. Needless to say, Dale Snodgrass smashed his opponents with grace and style and Steve Hinton came in a very close second. The twin Thunderbolts from Tennessee easily won the two-ship class.

“Aviation Expo 2020” was the largest warbird gathering in history. Aircraft from World War Two to Vietnam was present and flying. The sound of all those historic Engines running at once was unforgettable. There were a few jet warbirds too and they didn’t disappoint. The show set a new world record for having the largest mass takeoff of warbirds since World War Two.

Now it was time for the show headliners. One by one, the jet teams took to the air and performed. The USAF Thunderbirds were up first. Followed by the RCAF Snowbirds, then the USN Blue Angels with Fat Albert doing a JETO takeoff. The Starfighters team got back together for this show. Flying from “across the pond” was the Breitling jet team and the RAF Red Arrows for the grand finale.

There was a short pause in the show come late afternoon. During this time everyone walk the static aircraft and got a bite to eat before the evening show.

As the sun made its slow journey toward the horizon, fuel tanks were topped off again, engines started up for the final performances of the day. It was amazing and the light was magical.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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