Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A great idea, with some problems

I use a polarizer filter most of the time when I'm shooting outdoors in the day time.   The good news is I have four lenses that all use the same size filter so I have only had to buy one.  The bad news is that means I am constantly taking the filter off one lens and putting it on another.   This is a royal pain.

I was excited to learn about a new product that seemed to address the painful parts of swapping a
filter between lenses.  A friend showed me the XUME Quick Release Adapters.   Their website says - "frees you from the tedium and frustration of changing filters while clients wait or as the perfect light slips away. Never miss a shot again. Use the filter you want on the lens you want, when you want. Great for polarizers and variable NDs."  This sounds like the perfect solution and I ordered rings for four lenses and one polarizer filter, plus three lens caps that fit the rings.

I took these with me when hiking the Smoky Mountains on Sunday.   This was the first real use of the XUME system in the field and I have to say I was disappointed.

The first issue I ran into was some severe vignetting when using a wide angle lens.  I was shooting a full frame camera with a 17-40mm lens.   Their website says you might see moderate vignetting at focal lengths below 24mm on a full frame.   This can vary by camera and lens and I was seeing it at 28mm.   This may not be an issue for you if you are using a cropped sensor camera or a lens with a minimum focal length greater than 24 - 28 mm.  Since I like to shoot wide this became a serious issue for me. 

These adapters seemed to hold pretty tight, but it wasn't too long before I knocked my filter off the lens when pulling a lens shade off.  The filter dropped in the muddy gravel at my feet but wasn't damaged.   I can see damaging or losing a filter in my future.

After that, I took the rings off my lenses and filters.  I don't think I'll use them.   They wouldn't be a problem on my 70-200mm or 300mm lens but they are on my favorite 17-40 and 24-105mm.  Because you need to use them on all the lenses to get the maximum benefits it doesn't make sense to have them on some lenses but not others.

If anyone has a cropped sensor camera and lenses that use 77mm filters I'll be willing to let these babies go to a new home.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Best Part

Paintbrush Sunset
I've been lax in blogging recently.   Spring has happened again and it's the season I want to spend as much time as possible out taking outdoor photos.   I had planned to lead a group outing to the Smoky Mountains this Saturday, but the forecasted heavy rain and thunderstorms forced me to cancel the trip and stay home.  

Right now, I'm at home eagerly waiting for the brown truck to drop a package off on my doorstep.  In that package is the latest version of Adobe Lightroom, which is my favorite photo editing tool.  It has a lot of new features I want to try out and see if I can improve my photos using the new software bells and whistles.   A few days ago I bought a tripod from a good friend that's smaller and lighter weight, making travel easier.  While that may not improve my photos, it sure will make traveling easier.   For a couple months, I've had my eye on a specialized lens to take pictures of star-filled skies.

 Click on any photo for a larger version

Texas Ranch Sunrise

Like many photographers, I'm always looking for that new gadget or piece of software that will improve my photos.   While I'm a little frugal (cheap) others spend a great deal of money on their photography hobby.  

In past blogs, I've said the best photography investment is in workshops.   I've been to a few and I always learn new things and come away a better photographer.  But, workshops are not cheap.
Wildflowers at Old Baylor

I've got a secret for improving your photography, having a great time, and not having to spend a ton of cash.   FRIENDS!

A couple weeks ago I got to spend several days with four great friends who are also great photographers.   We traveled around Texas together in a van hunting for flowering bluebonnets, longhorn cattle, historic sites, sunrises, and sunsets. (Photos available online here)  I came home with about 1,400 shots and almost as many good memories.

The five of us traveled together, shared ideas, learned from each other, copied (stole) each other's shots, wished we had stolen other shots and had a great time.   I came home with some of my favorite photos and more importantly I came home a better photographer.   You can put a price on gear, software, workshops, but not friendship.  It's invaluable.

We are already making plans for future trips together.  Personally, I don't think it can happen soon enough.   I look forward to the photography, but more importantly I look forward to being with good friends, who just happen to be photographers.

You don't have to travel to far away places to make photographer friends.  Join a local camera club, meetup group, or other gatherings.  Your photography will improve and you will make friends.  Then, find time to get out with those friends, take some photos and have a great time.

Want to see more photos from this trip?  Check out http://www.thesiggins.com/AllWorks/Earth-Sea-and-Sky/Texas-Spring/