Mar 292010

The firsts of my photographic career are constant, but this weekend I did three new things.  Each are deserving of their own posts, at

Original concept and idea

least two of them definitely are!  The first one I’m going to write about is studio shooting.  I was pointed in the direction of a photography contest by a friend and had an idea that just wouldn’t leave me, so I went about trying to get a good shot to enter.  The theme of the contest was “I spy with my eye something beginning with the letter ‘J'”.

My brain almost automatically thought of Jelly Beans.  Then I was sitting in my Living Room with my family one night and discovered that my Mom had Jelly Belly Jelly Beans sitting on the table and the colors that mingled together just caught my photographic eye.  I thought that black Plexiglas would be a perfect

The Close-up

background.  I even knew someone who could let me set it up in his studio and get the shots.  I just needed someone to help me with lighting, which I still don’t really know a whole lot about. I discussed the idea with John, who liked my idea, but did point out that this was an advanced contest, so it would need to be a VERY good shot to stand a chance.  The beginners on the site had a similar contest on the same site and the second place winner in that contest also used Jelly Beans.  I just hope I did a good enough job making this a great shot!

John was a little busy getting ready to teach a Photoshop class Saturday, but our

Mound of Jellies!

friend Michelle thought she could spare a few minutes.  We were gathering up lighting stuff to take to the class anyway.  She helped me set it up and capture what I wanted.  In the end I had four shots I really liked, a few that were ok, and a few that were tossed as soon as I took them.  We’ll see how it does in the contest, but I was very proud of the final products of my first studio shoot.

For these shots Michelle set up 2 Nikon Flashes crossing each other so there were no front lying shadows and we triggered them using a Pocket Wizard.  It took a few tries to get the lighting right, but once we figured it out, the results speak for themselves I think. 🙂

Final Shot

Mar 082010

As a photographer, at any level, one of the important things that we have to try to figure out is: How to carry our equipment.  I’ll admit I have a great bag that I really like, but it work for my practical side.  It doesn’t work for my feminine, I like colors/pretty things side…or even my wish this wasn’t obviously a camera bag side. Sometimes, I just want MORE from my bag.  I do need it to be comfortable, practical, and easy for me to load, get gear out of, and protect my gear.

Right now my perfect bag is a black Lowpro Slingshot 300 AW, which I just upgraded to from my Lowpro Slingshot 200 AW.  Backpacks work great for me because I can easily sling them on my back and just go.  I don’t have one shoulder aching from carrying things and I admit, I just like backpacks. (I know, the Slingshot has just one shoulder strap, but it has never caused my shoulder a lot of discomfort…although I haven’t had much chance to use my 300 much yet, especially for long days of shooting yet).

I also have a Lowpro CompuDaypack that I was using when I needed to carry my laptop with me.  I’ve been thinking about getting a nice laptop sleeve for it and carrying it that way.  I like it, but my laptop is pretty heavy, it’s a Dell Inspiron 6000, which now is a bit outdated, and I’m told that it won’t run Photoshop well, so I can’t really process pictures on it.  I do have Picasa on it, and have tried to use GIMP on it, but I just don’t understand those programs.  Heck, I’m still only doing basic things in Photoshop and I get easily confused.  I know there is still ALOT for me to learn, but I’m getting there and my photographs are slowly improving. (Anyone can check out my progress in my FLICKR account at  My Photoshop skills are improving slowly, too, and I’m starting to check out some ad-ons like Topaz Adjust to find shortcuts for developing.  I’ll write about those things later, but back to camera bags.  My CompuDaypack is just too small for my equipment now because it was a tight fit before I got my Canon 70-200 EF IS and 2X extender…not to mention my Canon Elan film camera.

So what do I carry in my bag?  I have my Canon 40D (still thinking about getting a battery grip, but so far don’t have one), a Canon EF 28-135 mm lens, a Canon EF 70-200mm/2.8 IS lens, Canon EF 2X Extender lens, a Canon Elan film body, a Canon Speedlite 420 EX flash, an extra camera battery, a Hoya UV filter and Tiffen Polerizer, Canon 40D battery charger,a Kenko extension tube set (these are John’s but hope to get my own soon as I shoot a fair amount of macro!), several memory cards (ok, I have 9 8G cards right now).  I hope to soon be able to get a 50 mm lens, and a wide angle lens, though which one is yet to be determined but so far the Canon EFS 10-22 mm is winning but I can’t use it on my Elan body.  I would also soon like a Hyperdrive so that I don’t have to worry as much about having enough memory, especially when on longer trips.   I like to have a little extra room for my BlackBerry charger, iPod, iPod charger, and such so that I can keep my electronics all together when traveling. If it has a tripod hook, that would be all the better as I have a Manfrotto tripod that John actually got me from Flyingwithfish last year.  It was used, is a bit heavy, but it does the job!  Do have a strap for it though, so my bag carrying it is not a necessity.

I’ll keep exploring camera bags, trying to find one for each side of me.  I know I won’t always be carrying all my equipment, but finding one that will allow me to comfortably travel with my gear (not about to check it when flying!),  and easily organize and find it is what would make the perfect bag for me.  Sometimes having a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag would be nice, and sometimes having one that isn’t solid black would also be nice.  I’m not a girlie girl, but sometimes having a pretty bag is fun, too!