My #1 Book Reco for 2010

Hi All

I receive many emails saying: "I want to be a professional photographer - or at least I'd like to make some money with my hobby. Do you have a book recommendation?"

Here's the book I recommend: Real Magic - Creating Miracles in Everyday Life - by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

It's my favorite self-help book, and it sure helped me! I used to work in an advertising/PR agency in NYC, wearing a suit and tie for 10 years. That was 20 years go.

Check it out. Link at the bottom of my Books page.

While you are there, check out Dr. Zakia's book, too! He is another amazing author.

Best of luck in the new year!

Tripod Trials and Tribulations

Hi Gang,

For many, choosing a tripod is almost as hard, or even harder, than choosing a camera bag. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

I'll cover camera bags in another post. For now, I'd like to share with you what I look for in a tripod . . . actually tripods, because I have two: one for lightweight shooting (17-40mm lens and 24-105mm lens) and one for heavier duty shooting (70-200mm lens and 100-400mm lens).

Before reading on, keep in mind that I don't use 500mm and longer lenses. The longest lens I own is my Canon 100-400m ISL lens. (Click here for my gear list.)

Here are the key features and benefits that I look for in a tripod:
• Quick-release bracket for fast mounting and dismounting.
• Bubble level to level my shots.
• Ease of opening and closing - with twist locks rather than snap locks.
• Ball-head for quick horizontal and vertical shooting.
• Lightweight and compact.
• Solid as a rock.
• Height adjustment for low-level and high-level shooting.
• Size (for carry-on consideration).
• Weather resistant.
• Padded legs for comfort.
• Carry strap for hand-free shooting.
• Ease of operation.

Before you buy a tripod, check it out personally or talk with others who have used the brand and model you want to purchase. Do a web search for sure.

Good tripods (and ball heads) don't come cheap. On that note, don't cheap-out when it comes to a tripod - especially if you are into HDR photography, low-light photography, wildlife photography . . . well, you get the message.

You'll notice that my cameras are "strapless" in these photos. I removed the straps for beauty sake. When I am shooting in the field, I always use a camera strap and hold onto it when I am carrying my tripod over my shoulder . . . just in case I mess up and don't tighten the quick release bracket. I saw that happen to another photographer – and saw the smashed results on the ground. :-(

Steady as you shoot,
P.S. I actually have another tripod: my JOBY mini-tripod.

Great day for the fox, but not so much for the squirrel

My friend, George Lepp, our most recent addition to the talented writing staff over at the Digital Photo Experience, sent me this picture yesterday that he took outside his window. His caption: Great day for the fox, but not so much for the squirrel.

George's comments reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: "The harder you work, the luckier you become." I am sure the fox worked hard at capturing the squirrel - but luck played a part.

As photographers, the harder you work, the luckier you will become. I know! I work hard.

Explore the light,

See the Light, Capture the Light

To celebrate the publication of my new book, Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter (which is also great for entry-level SLR shooters), I will be posting some tips from the book over the next few weeks.

Here is tip #2: See the Light and Capture the Light.

These three pictures, all taken in the same location and cropped, illustrate why the quality of light is so important.

In the top image, the quality of light is simply fantastic, created by the morning fog and the rising sun. Talk about the luck of being in the right place at the right time!

The middle picture, taken at after sunrise, has a nice quality… but not as nice as the top image – because the fog is missing.

The bottom picture is boring due to the poor quality of light. It was taken just before sunrise on a clear day.

Want great light quality in your pictures? Get up early and stay out late and shoot during what pros call “the golden hours.”

Here's another tip: Don't underestimate the importance of cropping. For me, this scene screamed pano - so I cropped the pictures to the pano format.

FYI: 90 percent of the pictures in my "Confessions" book were taken with a Canon G10. I have since upgraded to the G11. To see all my gear (yes I still use my SLRs!!), click here.

Explore the Light,