Gift Idea – Day 3

The next idea for a Christmas gift for the photographer on your list is money. Why money as a gift idea? Well many times people like to get a present for the photographer they are buying for, like a lens or a flash, etc, but many times they do not know what camera manufacturer or camera type they have. This can be a BIG problem so instead of buying something that you are not sure of, give money with a note that says something like “This is for that lens that you are looking at” or “I wanted to buy you a flash but was not sure which one so here is some money towards it”. If you think that they may spend the money on something else then do a card with a note in it that says “I would like to go shopping with you for that new lens and will pay for it”, or you will put so much towards it.

Last year I had a husband come in to ask me about buying his wife a lens. Fortunately I knew which lens she was looking at as I do printing for her and she was telling me how much she wanted to get this lens. The problem was that the husband was looking at the wrong one, she wanted the Canon 70-200L F2.8 IS, the store that he went to told him that he should buy the 70-200L F4 without IS – a big difference!! So he instead did the card idea and told her that he would like to put X amount towards the new lens, when she got the card she was ecstatic as she had saved enough already to be able to buy the lens with the extra money he put towards it, she got exactly what she wanted!

Gift Ideas – Day 1

People ask me for gift ideas for photographers so I am going to do my top 10 gift ideas for this year.

The first gift idea is time. If you have a wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend one of the best things that you can give them (and it really does not cost anything) is some time. Do up a certificate for a day or a couple of hours of free time once a month that they can cash in when they would like to use it. Let them get out and take pictures or work on the computer without being interrupted. It is one of the better ways to help someone improve their photography skills.

Should I buy used or new?

A question I get asked a lot, even more this time of year, is “should I buy used or new when buying camera equipment and accesories?”

Well my opinion is that unless the used equipment is really priced low, buy new!

Lenses – There is so much for sale on line such as Canon 50mm 1.8 lenses that people are selling for $100.00, well if you look at most places new they are only $119 and on sale they drop to $90. Add to that the new one will have a warranty and you are way ahead to get a new one. Now if it is something that is really reduced such as a 500mm F4 lens that the regular price is $5000 and it is being sold for $1000 then this may be worth looking into. BUT before jumping at the “deal” make sure that you check it out. I had a customer bring me in a lens the other day that they bought, it was a nice lens, looked like it was new, but would not zoom all the way out. They never checked the entire zoom range when they bought it and now had a defective lens that will cost more to fix than they paid for it.

Cameras are another thing, check them out completely before buying to make sure that they work but at the same time check out how many megapixels they are and the rest of the specs of the camera. I saw a camera that was for sale REALLY cheap, the sensor was a good size, but the dynamic range and the ability to focus was horrible on this camera.

Camera accessories can be easier to buy used, a tripod is easy to check out to see if it works, a monopod is not that difficult to see if it works and if you need a camera bag either buying new or used all you need to do is to make sure that your gear fits in it. Accessories such as triggers, flashes, studio lights will require a little checking out and also make sure that it will work with your camera. I see a lot of ads stating that they are selling a certain lens and then they write “will work on any camera” or a flash that states “will work on any camera”, this is either being done to sell it or the seller just does not know, so be careful.

If you are looking at something used and it does not feel right walk away, or if you are not sure then walk away. Better to wait and get it new and be happy with it than to buy it used and waste your money as it does not work.

Cold Weather Shooting – Equipment

Well shooting in the cold can do some strange things to your body. But it can do even more strange things to your camera equipment.  A camera that works great one minute can stop working altogether in real cold weather.  A tripod that you love in the warm weather can be a pain (literally) in the cold. If you want to have some real fun try changing your camera settings when your hands are numb with the cold. So to make it more enjoyable here are some tips for Cold Weather Shooting – Equipment.

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Print your own pictures?

Should you print your own pictures?

I get asked this a lot from people that I know outside of the studio and even from customers at the studio. As much as I would like to say no to everyone, and instead you should bring your printing to me 🙂 , there are some things that you have to look at first before deciding if you want to go ahead and invest in a printer and do your own printing or you want to bring it to me 🙂

1 – Are you prepared to put out the money on a quality printer? Not just any printer will give you great prints. You need to get a printer that will do the job you want and that is to print photographs. Also, make sure that you get one that will print the sizes that you want. If you want to do 12×18’s make sure the printer will do that. To buy a 24″ printer is a lot of money for just a few large prints once in a while so make sure that you do really need that size.

2 – Have you considered the amount of ink that you will need to carry / buy? The printer may not be that much money but the ink can sure add up FAST! I have $2000 worth of ink at all times and many times a lot more so I do not run out. Plus the ink in the printer and you can have a lot tied up in ink.

3 – Are you prepared to stock a LOT of paper? Unfortunately you will be buying paper in packs of at least 25 sheets and this can be as high as $250 for a pack of larger sheets, so if you want a selection you will need a lot of packs. People call me and want to sell me packs of paper as they bought a pack of 25 and only used a couple sheets and have been storing it for years.

4 – Do you have the time to print yourself? Printing is time consuming and can take hours to get a complete order done and ready for the client. Doing nozzle checks, cleaning cycles all take time.

5 – Are you good at colors and adjusting your computer. If not then stay away as printing involves hours of monitor balancing and profile tweaking to get the best prints.

6 – Do you mind wasting prints? Adjusting, misprints, head checks, etc take a lot of paper and costs money. If you are printing as a hobby this is just part of the hobby (a hobby I was told is something that costs money and you cannot expect to make money on it, this can be true with printing)

7 – Are you going to print enough? Leaving your printer idle for more than a few days can cause issues with clogged nozzles and can cost money to run cleaning cycles or even to have repaired.

Once you have answered these questions you will be ready to decide. Printing can be a lot of fun, “like working in a darkroom in the OLD days” (Love that saying 🙂 ) it can be very enjoyable AND no chemicals to mix or smell, just make sure that you know the costs, both financial and time.

If you want to try your hand at printing I am offering a printing course in the New Year so you can work on an image then print it yourself, this way you get to see what is involved in the printing.


Patience, patience and yes more patience

I cannot believe how fast people expect things to be done, they order something on line and when it is not here the next day they get upset. They go into restaurants, order and start complaining that they have to wait before the waitress even gets to put the order in. Well it is the same thing with pictures, people drive to Waterton and if they do not get a picture in a couple minutes give up and go home. Some things require a lot of patience and sometimes that means coming back again and again. I have gone to take pictures of different things and after 20 or even 60 minutes I know that I am not going to get the shot that I want at that time, so I either leave and come back another day or I take a break for a while. Yes sometimes the day is a wash and the best thing that you can bring home are some memories. Other days things go amazingly well and you come home with dozens of images and life seems good!

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