Monthly Archives: July 2016

Gear That Grows With My Skills


The BC Legislature in Victoria, BC

One of the biggest challenges for new photographers is knowing which camera to buy first. Of course, there is always the feeling of gear-lust : that feeling of how much better your photography would be if only you had that new Leica body, or one of those new Canon L-Series lenses. Any piece of equipment is equally dependent on two things – the hardware & its firmware.

The firmware is the “operating system” of the camera. It maps the functions of the dials and buttons to specific tasks and how they work. Manufacturers like Canon will map a series of capabilities to the range of camera – from “entry level” to so-called “pro-sumer” to their top-of-the-line “professional” gear. So it would stand to reason that a budding photographer would have to buy a new camera body when their skills increase to the next level. This is not quite so !

Enter Magic Lantern. It is a firmware add-on, that loads from your memory card and gives the photographer additional features. For example, the original firmware on my Canon EOS 60D doesn’t support “professional” features such as focus-peaking or having a firmware intervalometer. Magic Lantern adds these features to my camera, extending its capabilities.

This is a huge boon to the amateur photographer. Instead of buying new hardware when you want to experiment with new techniques, you can simply upgrade the firmware. Sorry to those who shoot other platforms, like Sony or Nikon, but Magic Lantern is for Canon only.

There’s a great video posted over on PetaPixel, which is a photography eZine I follow.


Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Chillin’ in Charlotte, SC
When I first started shooting, I was “that guy”. Shooting on Auto, chimping every shot, and never post-processing my photos. Yep – your average tourist. Time & shutter trips later, and I only shoot in Manual mode, and – as of this week – only shoot in RAW.
I started my photographic journey using Aperture on my MacBook Pro. With a Retina display, it’s pretty sweet ! But then Apple chose to abandon the photographic community. Aperture’s features were replaced by an Instagram-style app that applied canned filters to your images. Very cheesy… So I made the switch to Adobe’s Creative Cloud bundle for photographers.
Coming with Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, and supporting services like Portfolio and Assets made my workflow fairly straightforward. No more JPEGs for the iPad and CR2s (Canon’s RAW file format). Now I can shoot RAW, wirelessly & selectively transfer the photos to my iPad for some quick edits and send them off to Social Media. The edits I do in post-processing on the iPad get transferred via my Creative Cloud account & syced to my proper Lightroom catalog on the MBP.

It’s Not What You Shoot…

Canon Canonette GL19, c. 1965

So I shoot Canon. Other people shoot Nikon. Still others shoot Sony, Pentax or Fujistu. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter WHAT you shoot, so long as you are shooting ! The choice of camera for a photographer is a highly personal decision. It can be about the megapixels, or the sensor size, or even the ergonomics of the grip. For me it’s all about the colour.

My main camera body is a Canon DSLR – the EOS 60D. The Canonette pictured above is a little 35mm film camera I picked up for about $45. In a few short days, I will have saved my pennies to buy a mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS M3. I like the Canons because nothing matches their colour accuracy, rendering the most vibrant colours possible.

Once I started getting out of the “newbie” phase (and took my camera off “Auto”), I started to think about how best to invest in a photography system. Having upgraded to the 60D from an EOS T3i, I knew I had a camera body that would meet my growing skills. The best advice I got was to invest in good glass. The Canon L-Series lenses were pricey, but have been worth every darn penny. Best of all, with an inexpensive adapter, I can still use those lenses on my new EOS M3 !