Building web pages on Smugmug

Building web pages on Smugmug

I thought I would put together a screencam to show how I build my website on Smugmug. I don’t think the formatting is anything specular, but it should at least give an indication of what it’s like to build the website. I’ve taken a new article I’ve written in MS Word, and shown exactly how I created it from start to finish on Smugmug.

As you will see, it’s not very difficult

1. Write article in word (not shown)

2. Upload photos (not shown)

3. Create page for article (shown)

4. Split article into break points for photos (shown)

5. Update article with pictures (shown)

6. Publish article to main page (shown)

Continue reading Building web pages on Smugmug

Defending GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

Introduction

I’ve seen people complain about GAS, about those with GAS, with a general reference to anyone who buys “too much gear”. I’m not quite sure what too much gear is to be honest. To the spouse of a photographer, more than one body might be too much gear, maybe it’s the 7th lens, there is no formal definition of GAS. There is however a general perception that if you buy too much gear, you’re wasting your time. I’m in a slightly different space, and I tend to look at GAS from an affordability perspective. I.e. if you can afford it, why not?

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying that buying more gear makes you better photographer. It doesn’t. It just makes you a collector. On the converse, buying more gear doesn’t make you a worse photographer. Buying more gear does open the door to experimenting and that is ultimately what it’s about. The more you take photos, the more opportunity you have to learn, the more you improve.

Continue reading Defending GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

Taking photos of your children

Introduction

Taking photos of your children is probably one of the easiest and hardest things to do. It’s easy to take photos, but it’s difficult to take good photos. At the time of writing this article, my kids are 6 and 4, two of the most beautiful girls in the world and they certainly know how to wrap Daddy around their finger. On occasion I like to combine my favorite hobby with my favorite girls and that has provided a big learning curve for me.

There are a couple of reasons why working with your own children is difficult:

1. Children don’t listen to instructions in the same way as an adult. They aren’t being difficult, they’re being children and accepting that is important.

2. Children have a very short attention span as you are probably aware. They can spend an hour playing with something obscure and 2 minutes playing with a toy that you spent a small fortune on.

3. You don’t have limited control over the background when taking photos. You can’t decide when and how your children will be cute. They do that on their own and it tends to be where they want, when they want and how they want.

4. Photos with children are often unplanned. I.e. they do something cute and you try to grab the camera as quickly as possible, hoping that the lens is appropriate.

Continue reading Taking photos of your children

APSC vs Full Frame

Preface

This is not meant to be contentious article but it will probably result in the wrath of many. It’s for this reason that I would like to make the following clear:

What it is not:

• It’s not intended to be an APSC vs Full Frame argument from the perspective of trying to prove that APSC is better than Full Frame. Many may see it this as the purpose of the article, but it’s not. When looking at Medium Format vs Full Frame vs APSC, the argument of “what is better” comes down to a number of requirements including purpose and budget. In the absence of budget, one could argue that having all 3 would be the right outcome, but very few people have live in an environment where budget is not a constraint.

What it is:

• It is an article to show what the gap is between full frame and APSC and how small it is.

• It is intended to show that the argument that APSC is amateur only is one that is only dictated by some manufacturers.

• It’s intended to show that full frame is no longer the required long term progression that it once was.

• It is intended to show that very few “non-professional” photographers “need” full frame, it’s important to differentiate between “want” and “need”.

Continue reading APSC vs Full Frame

Nikon to Fuji X-T2 Switchers Guide

Introduction

Switching systems is a big step no matter who you are and how well you know photography. The reviews do a good job of explaining how good the camera is , but they aren’t very good at explaining the learning curve which may or may not be painful coming from another system.

For Nikon switchers, I’ve tried to cover these in this article. It’s written primarily coming from a full frame Nikon (or the D750 in my case) so it may not be applicable to all Nikon’s but hopefully it will cover most of what it needs to. It’s a little long but hopefully I’ve covered it in enough detail to keep everyone happy.

What this article is not:

– This is not a “Why is mirrorless or DSLR is better” article. There are many articles which argue both Mirrorless vs DSLR and DSLR vs Mirrorless with particular vigour. I’m not going to try do either. This article is assuming you’ve already made an educated decision on what system is better for you or the reason for your switch. My reasons are documented in the linked article called “Sorry Nikon, this is where you lost me…” but these don’t necessarily apply to you or everyone.

– It’s not intended to validate your purchase. If you want to feel good about what you’ve bought or feel that you made the right decision, go to a Fuji forum. You’ll find plenty of people to pat you on the back and tell you what an amazing decision you have made.

– It’s not a “How to use a Fuji XT2” or “How to use your camera” article. This article assumes you were fairly competent on your Nikon and not shooting in auto mode so I am not going to tell you what the camera basics are, what AFS or AFC are etc. If you want a detailed XT2 help guide, try this guide from Rico Pfirstinger on Rockynook which is great.

– It doesn’t cover video (or at least not in any level of detail) simply because I don’t work with video and I don’t think I could do it justice.

Continue reading Nikon to Fuji X-T2 Switchers Guide

Photographers Anonymous – Why I hate camera forums!

I just wanted to say thanks and tell you how much I hate you all. It may seem harsh, but as a member of Photographers Anonymous (PA), life isn’t easy dealing with this addiction every day…every Tuesday night we meet up, talk about our problems with photography purchases. Once in a while, a person slips up and they show up with a new body or lens, but we support them, we don’t judge, that’s what we do because we’re a family in it together.

But this isn’t about them, this is about me. This is about my problem…

I recently nearly spent a small fortune on new photography gear. This is largely as a result of the members here. Yes, I know, it’s easy to blame it on me, it’s my credit card, but it’s your fault and it’s time for you to take responsibility for your actions.

AJSH3398

All attempts to get support from the members on the local Fuji group in not buying the gear were useless. My first attempt occurred when I asked members whether I should buy the GFX, X100F or an X-T20 as a second body. Instead of responsible replies like ”don’t do it/you’ll hate yourself/think of the children/what would Michael Jackson do/that’s stupid when there is a new tax coming from the government”, I received responses of encouragement like “they’re awesome, you’ll love them! buy that! buy both! buy more! buy everything in the store!”. What I want you to ask yourself is if a friend came to you and said “Do you think I should buy cocaine or heroin”, would you really reply “They’re both awesome, get both!”?

AJSH1349

But as I was a responsible member of photographer anonymous, I contacted my PA Big Brother (he has a platinum badge because he hasn’t bought any photography gear in 2 years), I managed to gain enough emotional support to refrain from any further purchases. I did have a little slip up a couple of weeks later where I accidentally walked into a photography store thinking it was a hair salon and bought a 60mm Macro. With names of photography stores like Michael’s, B&H, Borge’s, Van Bar and Ted’s, it was an honest mistake. I walked in there expecting a new haircut and suddenly I have a whole lot of cameras and lenses in front of me. I didn’t even have time to cut up my credit card. I think these guys should be a little more honest about what they are doing instead of trying to fool customers into walking into the stores. Names like Camera Pro, “Cameras are us” or Camera Shop seem far more appropriate and less misleading. Fortunately, I had my PA big brother on speed dial as the credit card transaction was going through and he managed to talk me out of the store before any further damage was done but it was still a lens too late. At that point, I was doing well. I was headed towards a major milestone where I could proudly proclaim “Hi, I’m Athol and it’s been 1 month since my last photography purchase” but that’s the problem with life…just as you think things are going well, mother nature has a nasty habit of throwing you a curve ball.

AHXE0067 4896 x 3264

I was casually browsing the recent posts section on the local forum; despite the recommendations of my PA big brother; but I thought I was strong enough to control the urge at this point. Then it happened. A post about the new GFX camera. It’s just a post I thought, it’s not even available yet so I can handle this. But it was followed shortly by comments about how nice the Camera would be and before I knew it I was googling “Fuji GFX” and clicking the “pre-order”on an online shopping site. I didn’t have a 50MP camera body and if this camera was that good, it may be able to produce more winning photos for me, maybe even a Pulitzer. Yes, those evil competition wins that elude us so often were finally within reach by simply clicking that “Check Out” button. I had the talent, but not the GFX. I thought I didn’t have to worry about the GFX because it hadn’t come out, but there it was…the pre-order button. Who lets you pre-order something that isn’t actually available? That’s like selling air. Is it my fault for typing GFX into the search box on their site?

IMG_2655 4032 x 3024

From there it became a click frenzy. I was like a shark from Nemo with the smell of blood in the water, clicking wildly at everything that popped up on my screen. These camera places are incredibly sneaky. In the GFX pre-order screen, a popup appeared saying “people who ordered this also ordered a Fujinon GF63mmF2.8” and a whole heap of other things I didn’t have, and if they were buying those, they must be the ones winning the comps so I had to buy them. It couldn’t be an addiction if other people were doing it could it? Finally, I was at the checkout screen and things had taken a turn for the worst with mounting numbers that were getting higher and higher. I knew I needed help so I tried to phone my Photographers Anonymous Big Brother but he wasn’t answering (I later learnt he was also out pre-ordering a GFX as well). I went back to the forum for moral support hoping someone would tell me “You’re being an idiot”. Instead, the first post I saw is how was another post about how awesome the GFX was. I clicked on it searching for the answer, hoping for someone to say that the GFX had been discontinued and Fuji was no longer offering any new camera bodies for sale for the next 10 years but there was no such luck. All of the posts were positive about the GFX and the members even said I could sell my old camera because the GFX was so good I wouldn’t want it anymore. I was originally planning to keep it so in reality, they were saving me money. I was actually making a profit out of this, not losing money.

AJSH3454

Then just as I was getting ready to put in my credit card details, I realised things had gone too far. Sanity needed to prevail. I was about to do a bad thing that I would regret for at least 2 days while waiting for the goods to arrive.

I called my wife and she managed to talk me down. We talked for a while, we phoned friends for support, it took nearly an hour of negotiating, but we got there slowly. We both cried.

This is my story, hopefully you can learn from it so you don’t make the same mistakes. Maybe some of you can learn to accept that this is a real problem and you have to be careful about what you say to people on the forum. Giving photography gear advice shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And if you do make the same mistakes as me, I can highly recommend a ThinkTank bag to put the mistakes in.

Sorry Nikon, this is where you lost me…

I’m going to be honest and say I wasn’t an unhappy Nikon user. My D750 was great, the lenses were great, and the system was great. But I wanted a second body and I wanted that body to be mirrorless. I would have been great to have a mirrorless body coming from the same system as my DSLR but after waiting and hoping for Photokina, that didn’t happen, so I had to question how important DSLR or full frame was for me. The more I compared, the more I really that there was no longer a loss of performance moving to mirrorless, at least not for what I was doing.

I always said that when mirrorless offered a viable alternative, I’d consider switching. Sadly for Nikon, mirrorless now offers a viable alternative, but Nikon isn’t close. To put it into perspective, the race started 5 minutes ago, and the problem isn’t that Nikon started late, they’re still in bed sleeping.

AJSH3398

Their last announcement at Photokina was more than just a little disappointing, and I wasn’t the only one. I don’t think I saw many positive comments at all. For those who missed it, Nikon seemed to indicate they might consider, thinking about contemplating, potentially, maybe looking at mirrorless and they would continue to monitor it. Gee, thanks. I’m glad you’re monitoring it, but if I’m going to continue to invest in a system, I want to know they are doing more than just watching this space. I can watch this space and I don’t even manufacture camera’s.

So where did Nikon go wrong? Well, for starters, if your customers are waiting for you to produce a mirrorless, and we know there are a lot of them out there waiting for this, if you are actually developing a mirrorless, you may want to mention it. I know what you’re thinking…maybe they wanted to keep it quiet so the market doesn’t know what theyre doing for competitive reasons. No, 10 years ago if Nikon was doing it, it might have been a secret. Now the market actually thinks you an idiot if you’re not doing it. And if you’re doing it and not mentioning it, they think your marketing department are idiots.

AJSH3365-2

In the last 12 months, I’ve seen 5 Nikon amateurs/enthusiasts switch to mirrorless. They probably would have stuck with Nikon if they knew there was a mirrorless coming. Sure, we’re not professional sports photographers bu we’re not spending small sums of money either. We may not be buying 400 f/2.8’s but we are buying D810’s, D750’s and pro glass like 24-70’s, 70-200’s and 14-24’s. To put that into perspective, when these photographers go out and buy into another brand, they’re spending $5,000 – $10,000 to start with along with a another $5,000 – $10,000 over the next year or two. Maybe that’s not much to Nikon, but it should be, because when enough people start doing that, the numbers and up. This is the next generation of photographers that influence the youth who are buying and right now, we’re telling them not to buy into Nikon and Canon, because mirrorless is where the future is at, and Nikon and Canon aren’t the future.

AJSH0773 6000 x 4000

The reality is that Nikon should have been developing mirrorless a long time ago, they should have been there first. Journalists have been saying this for ages. The average mirrorless user at the moment doesn’t want the Nikon 1. They want something which is DX or FX with good glass, and while you may have the FX glass covered, you haven’t produced a decent set of glass specifically for DX in ages. In conjunction to this, you’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle…a decent mirrorless camera. Remember Nokia? That’s where you are going to be headed at a rapid rate of you don’t do something soon.

AJSH3477

In Short, Nikon, if your mirrorless project exists and marketing team is telling you to keep your mythical project secret, fire them, because you’ve probably lost a lot of business as a result of them. And if you aren’t developing a DX or FX mirrorless camera yet, fire your strategy team as well. They may have got you this far, but they’re out of their depth right now.

So where to for me? I sold my gear, at least Nikon still carries its resale value. Then I went out and got myself an XT-2, 16-55 f/2.8, 50-140 f/2.8, 23 f/2, 35 f/2, 90 f/2 and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.