Another Day….Another Photo Taken.

It's my lens, it's my perspective, it's your's to enjoy.

This is where I come to share my photography related life with you. If you are a photographer I hope you can relate to this page. If you cannot, then I hope to hear your opinions as I am a very open minded kind of guy.
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It DOESN’T Have To Be Expensive

I’m not a wealthy person, I didn’t grow up with money, and I live on a budget. I think a lot (probably everyone reading this?) of people can relate to that. With that said I know for some trying to pick out a photography related gift for your loved
one on that special day, whether it is a birthday, Father/Mother’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other day of giving can be tough when it seems that everything related to photography is expensive. Or is it? I will be the first to tell you that there are a LOT of affordable items that will make the photographer in your life happy. And honestly, it is often these little items that we as photographers never seem to have enough of, or often forget to buy ourselves in the endless quest for that next big lens or new camera body. I speak from experience, and I am sure your friend/loved one would concur. So with that said I decided to put together a list of affordable items ranging from the $5 mark up to around say $40. For some $5 is easily doable, for others $40 will be, and for many of you somewhere in-between will be perfect! So scroll down and take a look at some of my ideas and if you have others to ad to this please share them in the comments below!!

 

Pass this on to others who I may help…I might just hint to my wife to have a look at this post ;)

Have fun and keep them shutters moving!

Jamie A. MacDonald

 

      $5 and under fun!

 

  1.  Lens pens for cleaning lenses! Cost: $4.99 http://amzn.to/12YZgML
  2. Microfiber lens cloth: Cost: $4.09 http://amzn.to/11625eY
  3. Lens cap keeper. Keeps those lens caps from getting lost! Cost: $2.27 (buy a few of them ;) http://amzn.to/11627n8
  4. Silica Gel packs (like you find in your shoe box) to keep camera bags low in moisture Cost: $4.99 (10pk)  http://amzn.to/14YQDSZ

    $10 and under ideas.

    1. A rocket blower for removing dust. Yes, it looks like a rocket :) Cost: $8.49 http://amzn.to/Zp6GKS
    2. SD Card (memory cards) case that is weather sealed! Cost: $7.88  http://amzn.to/170yQOI
    3. CF Card (memory cards) case that is weather sealed! Cost: $7.88  http://amzn.to/170yQOI
    4. Memory card reader for the iPad! Cost: $9.99 http://amzn.to/14036mt

     

    $20 and under ideas

    1.  Get them a BETTER more comfortable strap! Cost: $19.88  http://amzn.to/10vWS0k
    2. Forget the shoulder strap and try out a wrist strap! Cost: $20.00  http://amzn.to/14040iR
    3. More memory =’s more memories! 16GB SD card? Cost: $ 19.80 http://amzn.to/10CqLJ4
    4.  More memory =’s more memories! 16GB CF card? Cost: $ 18.99 http://amzn.to/1164zKp

    $50 and under ideas

    1. The best batteries you can get! Cost: $49.99 http://amzn.to/1405d9O <—This is a mega pack w/ 12 AA and 4AAA batteries.
    2. New batteries and charger for your Olympus cameras: Cost: All below $50!  http://amzn.to/12Z3ELH <—-You just need to locate the camera model :)
    3. New batteries and charger for your Panasonic cameras: Cost: All below $50!  http://amzn.to/12Z3PXe <—-You just need to locate the camera model :)
    4. New batteries and charger for your Nikon cameras: Cost: All below $50! http://amzn.to/Zp8VOg  <—-You just need to locate the camera model :)
    5. New batteries and charger for your Canon cameras: Cost: All below $50! http://amzn.to/170Brbx  <—-You just need to locate the camera model :)

    And finally we reach the end. I know the last section was all batteries but let me just say..We can never seem to have enough. :)

    I hope this helps some in making gift giving a little easier for you.
    Happy shopping!

    Jamie A. MacDonald

Surfs up with Olympus!!!

OLYMPUS HITS THE SANDS OF “SURF CITY, USA” FOR THE

2012 U.S. OPEN OF SURFING

 

For the First Time, Olympus Teams Up with TransWorld Surf Magazine

to Sponsor Fun, Interactive Booth Experience

 

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., July 27, 2012 – Olympus is proud to partner with TransWorld Surf magazine, the world’s foremost surf magazine, as a sponsor of this year’s U.S.Open of Surfing, in Huntington Beach, California. TransWorld and Olympus have created a co-branded interactive surf photo experience booth on the beach in Huntington Beach, California, offering product demos, product loans and sales of some of the hottest cameras on the beach this summer. Visitors can experience the new weather-sealed, mirrorless Olympus OM-D EM-5®, the most premium Tough® point-and-shoot to ever hit the waves, the Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS®‚ and the sleek and stylish Olympus PEN® cameras from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., each day during the festival (Saturday, July 28 to Sunday, August 6).

Additionally, Olympus has partnered with SocialPix, an experiential photo solutions company, to offer an interactive photo encounter called “Hang 10 with the TG-1,” allowing fans to pose for an instantly shareable Facebook photo on a simulated cover of TransWorld Surf magazine. Attendees are also encouraged to stop by the co-branded booth for chances to win a custom surfboard or Olympus cameras, and, to pick up complimentary copies of TransWorld Surf magazine.

The U.S. Open of Surfing is a week-long surfing competition held annually during the summer, and has become one of the most anticipated surf, music and lifestyle events of the year. This year’s event is expected to attract more than 750,000 fans and onlookers along a 14-acre stretch of sand on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier, showcasing the best in surf, skate, music and art.

Journalists interested in more information should contact Charles Leone, Mullen Public Relations, 212-885-3803, cleone@mullen.com or Jennifer Colucci, Olympus Imaging America Inc., 484-896-5719, jennifer.colucci@olympus.com.

ABOUT OLYMPUS IMAGING AMERICA INC.

Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets.

Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its ultimate parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhance people’s lives every day. These include:

Olympus Imaging America Inc. is responsible for sales in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For more information, visit: www.olympusamerica.com.

It All Happens So Fast………..

It really does.

It happens so fast.

Too fast.

One day you are having a conversation with your grandmother about antiques and gardening, and then before you know it she is in a nursing home for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

That is where I found myself last month. In Florida on a trip with two purposes. The first being an escape for my family from all the chaos of every day life, the second, a much more somber purpose, to visit my grandmother whom I haven’t seen in a year. One year. That is all it takes. One year and someone can go from the person you know, to the person who doesn’t know you. Well, she knew that she knows me somehow, but who I am, or how we are connected is lost to her. And that is something that has been in my mind ever since I saw her. She is one of the few people who shaped the person I am today, who had a positive influence on me, who instilled a set of moral values that are lost to so many these days. She was so full of life, so full of experiences and stories, and now she spends her free time playing with children’s wooden toys.
Occupy My Time by Jamie MacDonald (sl33stak) on 500px.com

As I sat with her trying to carry on a conversation she would often stop, and stare right at me as if trying to find me inside her memories. And no matter how deeply she looked, she only saw the  smiling face of a stranger. That hurts so profoundly, so intensely that it was all I could do to continue smiling. But I did, for her.

Struggling to Remember Me by Jamie MacDonald (sl33stak) on 500px.com

She would just go on and on talking about things that I didn’t understand. Things I struggled so hard to connect with. Things I felt I HAD to connect with so that I could at least share one moment more with my grandma where we were both on the same page. I wanted that, NEEDED that for myself, as selfish as it may sound, so I could leave feeling better about the situation. And as I was sitting there listening intently, grasping for some bit familiarity with what she was saying or trying to say as she bounced from subject to subject, it happened. She stopped talking, she closed her eyes for what felt like far too long,
It Takes Time by Jamie MacDonald (sl33stak) on 500px.com

and when she opened them she looked at a gentleman seated at another table near us and said, “this is Debbie’s son.” Debbie….My mother. She knew I was my mother’s son. And instantly I felt this huge lump form in my throat, and I looked right at my grandmother, and she looked at me, and there we sat, two strangers talking about nothing. It was brief, maybe it wasn’t even there, but damnitt I needed it to be and she gave it to me.

I love you grandma. I owe more to you than a lifetime of giving could ever repay. God bless you.
Distractions From Life by Jamie MacDonald (sl33stak) on 500px.com
Distractions From Life by Jamie MacDonald

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere…………

…….So long as you have an open mind and the eyes of a photographer.

This post is the result of a conversation I had the other day with a fellow photographer who lives in the big glorious state of Texas. He sent me a link on Facebook to a series of photos by a photographer in France ( Philippe Sainte-Laudy ) who has some stunning forest scenes on his 500px page. My friend seemed discouraged in his message stating, “this is whats disappoints me a lot about me and photography, first of all i need to find is gorgeous places like this, but how the heck do u take something this breath taking?” I only had to think about a response to his question for a millisecond. There was a time a few years ago when I felt EXACTLY the same way as he did. I had (and still do actually) no real time to dedicate to photography. Well, at least not enough time anyways. Ideally I would like to be able to spend one whole day every week just shooting. 8 hours, all day, no interruptions, just my cameras and I out on the open road exploring and capturing the beauty to be found in my home state of Michigan.

But the reality is I work a full time job, the graveyard shift at that, have two kids, a wife, and little to no time to “dedicate” to my art. Add to that the fact that I live in a little town nestled in the heart of farmland with no major defining landmarks or points of “interest”. But it is because of these limiting factors I have learned to appreciate the complex beauty in the mundane scenes around me. I have also learned that not only is the subject important, but my “lightroom” (or it’s modern equivalent) technique is just as and sometimes more important. My post processing frame of mind lately is one of putting a large focus of detail and work on the light in my scenes and not worrying about things like “noise” “sharpness” “DoF” etc….

To get to this new way of thinking and processing a few years ago I challenged myself to make due with the cards I was dealt and to re-imagine what photography can be for me. What I got out of the whole experience was a new appreciation for become more aware of my surroundings. To start I became an observer. What does that mean? It means that I am ALWAYS, camera in hand or no camera in hand, observing the world around me. And I am almost never looking at the objects in the scene as much as I am looking at the LIGHT in the scene. This last statement has never been more true than in this past year for me. I have gone through a sort of renaissance in my photography where the primary focus is light as much as it is subject and composition. I suppose for many this maybe has always been the case, and for those people I applaud your ability to have grasp what has taken me several years to finally realize! I have adopted this mentality so much so that I have new business cards with the quote,”I MANIPULATE PHOTONS” emblazoned on them. Funny right? Ok, maybe it IS a bit geeky but it does exemplify where my heart is at in regards to my photography as of late.

I also feel the need to mention a new piece of kit that has totally made my way of thinking that much easier to pull off no matter where I am. That bit of wonder in the new Olympus PEN E-PM1. This camera is TINY and has the same size and quality (actually a little bit better) sensor that my big heavy Olympus E-3 has! But because of its diminutive size I am able to have it with me ALL THE TIME. It is that fact that allows me to capture those moments of wonder that I observe on my daily travels to and from work and picking up and dropping off kids.

I apologize if this post was hard to follow and the subject changed too frequently or lost its coherence. It is a Saturday morning and my kids are already bouncing off the walls and I am starting to think about a shoot I have coming up in a few hours. But anyways…I want to share a few photos that I feel represent this new approach of mine. These are all things that I “observed” while out and about and not necessarily looking to make a photo.

2nd Annual Photowalk is Here!!!!

Hey everyone,

Last year I put on a photowalk as a way to meet up with some new photographers and to finally pay a visit to the famed Kensington Metropark. It was in my opinion a very successful first attempt at organizing a photowalk. I was fortunate enough to have a good turn out and to be supported by the companies whose products I use with some prizes to be awarded at random.  I went into last years walk with the hopes of making it an annual event and it would be a sad thing if I didn’t do it again…So what do you say?! Want to go on another photowalk?!

If you do then here are the details.

When?      October 1st
Where?   Kensington!! I had such a great time there and never had a chance to explore all of it. So I want to go back!
Who?  Hopefully everyone from last year and many more new faces! If you have a friend who likes to shoot, or one who has always wanted to try their hand at photography then bring them too!
What? What you need is a good pair of comfy shoes, a camera (ANY kind will do!) and a positive attitude. Kensington will supply the rest.
Why? Do you really need to ask? If so then…Because it is FUN! And there is a chance I may have some freebies to give away! No guarantees on that, but who knows?!

Now for more details.

I chose October 1st because it is as some of you may know, day one of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk. I HAVE applied to get our walk listed as an official walk! So let’s hope we get approved!
What does that mean? Well, in addition to it being our own little walk we’ll also be taking part in a global photowalk and there are prizes involved in that too! And it may also help us to add more people to our group, and in my opinion the more the merrier!

I will be posting this same message in MANY Flickr groups and I hope you will do the same. I would also like to ask those of you who are users of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to please do me a favor.  Please click the LIKE button on our Facebook page and PLEASE mention this photowalk on Twitter and direct it to @Getolympus @thinkTANKphoto @BlackRapid @Zenfolio  Why? When you do these things these companies get a feel for turnout…And generally the larger the turnout the more likely they are to support our walk!

Below is a list of relevant links.

Twitter profile pages for potential sponsors. FOLLOW them! They are AWESOME companies!

https://twitter.com/#!/getolympus

https://twitter.com/#!/thinkTANKphoto

https://twitter.com/#!/BlackRapid

https://twitter.com/#!/Zenfolio

If you have ANY questions on this event please feel free to email me at sl33stak@gmail.com or message me on Twitter I’m @sl33stak or add me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JamieAMacDonald

Keep your eyes open on this blog AND on our Facebook page for sponsor news and updates on our acceptance into the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk.

Take care and hope to hear from you soon.

Jamie A. MacDonald

And suddenly I am off in a whole new direction…….

So how is that for a catchy title?

I find myself writing this post because at some point in the recent past my photography took a turn in a different direction. This change was sudden, unexpected, a complete 180° turn from what I had been doing.  But the thing is, I am probably for one of the first times in my brief photographic journey…100% happy in what I have been capturing. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been utterly unhappy with what I’ve been doing so far. I just haven’t been happy enough or proud enough to call what I had been doing “good”. It has been “OK” up until now.   Now I get a feeling of confidence and pride in my work that I had not felt very often before.

So w/ all this gloating and bragging about myself (something I NEVER do) I suppose I should actually say what this change in my style has been. It has been the removal of color from my work. It has been the focus of only seeing the light in my image. Not worrying about realistic color reproduction, whether my white balance is correct color temperature is accurate. Is that blue “REALLY” blue? Or is it too purple.

Screw all that! For once I am 100% focused on the light.

I have always been aware of light, and have always made sure that I worked with it to achieve a certain look. For example, this image would not be what it is if I had waited another hour to shoot it. But it is just another morning shot to me.

So let’s change things up a bit. Let’s focus on the light…Let’s make sure the light is THE player in this scene. What do we end up with?

THIS:

Take away the color and only see the light.  I suppose for many photographers this is nothing new. We are all told that photography is all about the light. And yet..it took me three years to fully realize what the hell that REALLY means.  I have always been one to see what goes unnoticed by those around me, to find wonder in the mundane, and to capture that trivial moment in a way that makes it beautiful to those who would have otherwise ignored it. But I now feel like maybe I too was ignorant of the world around me, and that maybe I was blinded by color and hue and saturation. But I think now I am starting to fall in love with a world in black and white, a world in which all I need to be happy is light.

Sorry if this was too eccentric or “out there” I sometimes get that way. It’s not easy to stand alone.

Ooh I have a cool idea……Or so I thought.

That’s how yesterday evening started out. I knew that we had some storms rolling in and that they were packing wind gusts to 60mph. The storm system was moving at 40+mph so that meant that the clouds would be cruising across the sky. I instantly envisioned a long exposure black and white landscape shot, with the silky stream of storm clouds moving through the frame. Maybe if I was lucky I could sneak in a lightning bolt or two, well, only if Mother Nature was being cooperative.

So I scoped out the Doppler radar, and based on the storms path I knew where I wanted to be. I jumped in my truck with my E-3 and the Zuiko Digital 12-60mm SWD mounted plus two Hoya ND8 filters in my bag.

I got to my field with a few minutes to spare so I mounted my camera to the tripod, anchored it with a log (no sandbag),stacked the ND8′s, set focus to infinity, set my white balance, and adjusted my aperture to f/11. This combo yielded me a 25 second exposure. I set my camera to remote and waited for the show to begin.

Off in the distance I could see the lightshow ramping up and I knew that I would get some lightning in my shot. When the leading edge of the storm was where I wanted it I fired off my shot. While the shutter was open I was floored to see a wicked bolt of lightning streak across the horizon. It was like a living spiderweb being spun before my eyes.

I did this several more times, and once more I was able to have the shutter open while lightning streaked across the sky.  No cloud to ground lightning, but still a cool show across the storm front.

When I started to process my images today this is what I found.

NO LIGHTNING! What?!?!? Yup….It would appear that stacking two ND8′s was enough to keep the lightning from showing up? The lightning was thin and thready, like a spiderweb streaking across the sky. And while I thought it was bright, my camera thought otherwise.

Chock that up to a lesson learned. Next time I’ll run without stacking ND filters because the lighting was going to be a key component in this shot.

Live and learn I guess.
Do YOU have any experience with stacking ND filters? Or with shooting lightning with ND filters mounted? Is there something here I should have known about?

I’d love to hear from you.

Take care,

Jamie A. MacDonald

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