What to buy? A new camera or a good lens?

September 14, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

What to buy? I want to upgrade my camera!


This is a dilemma that I see quite often from newer photographers. Camera envy is a serious condition. It is one that can not be overcome easily. Often, you see that person that got their first DSLR kit. It is an entry level camera with a lens or sometimes 2 for a terrific (so you think) price. Now, entry level DSLR cameras are GREAT. They are leaps and bounds ahead of where 'Pro' level cameras were just a few years ago. Oftentimes, the manufacturer adds in some great new feature that they haven't added to their higher end cameras yet. The lenses, on the other hand, are not so great. I suppose you could say that they are good for snapping photos in the middle of the day or at the park, while watching your children play. The differences are seen when you are taking photos that are in not so ideal situations. The biggest thing that separates kit lenses from pro lenses is the amount of light that is allowed to pass through the lens, also known as aperture. The lower the number of the aperture, the larger the opening is that allows light to pass from the lens to the sensor of the camera. This allows the exposure to be captured at a higher rate of speed, thus allowing the shutter speed to be higher, resulting in more clear, sharp images. This is what gives us the term "fast glass", or "fast lens".  Most kit lenses are made with less expensive glass and lack the coatings applied to the glass in the pro level lenses that reduce chromatic aberration as well. Pro lenses tend to have less distortion, less vignetting and give your images better contrast. Again, this is because of the quality level of the glass used to make them. A good lens will usually have a wider aperture and in zooms, it will have a wider constant aperture. Meaning, that no matter the focal length it is zoomed to, it will still allow light to travel through the lens at a higher rate. Most kit zoom lenses have variable apertures, meaning that at different focal lengths, the aperture size will vary. 

Camera bodies are introduced quite often, new or upgraded bodies every year or two. Thus resulting in the older bodies losing their value rather quickly. Lenses are not introduced nearly as often. When they are introduced, the differences are not that great and the older lenses still hold their value very well.

Here is a great video by Digital Rev to show some real life comparisons. If this doesn't help and you would like more in depth explanation of things, feel free to comment or send me a message..  Enjoy and thank you for reading... 

Understanding Light

February 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

First off, I would like to apologize to those of you that are following my blog for the delay in posting this. The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy for me (which is a good thing in this industry). I will try to keep on track with more blog posts at regular intervals.



A Simple Understanding of Light

There is nothing more important, when it comes to photography, than light. Posing, composition, backgrounds, lenses and cameras don't mean a thing without light. I will talk about a few areas in regards to light in this post. In future blogs I will talk about some of these areas in greater detail. For now, this is just an overview of Light.

First off, even though light generally appears white, it actually has a color. Some light has a bluish color, some a yellow tinge and then there is the in between. The color of light is also known as temperature. Have you ever shot a photo under fluorescent light only to have your photo turn up with a yellow tinge? Or, have you ever noticed that the incandescent light bulbs in your house make things look more yellow? That is because they both have a 'warm' temperature. So, when you are taking photos you need to account for the color of that light either prior to shooting the photo or in your post processing. 

Hard light and soft light are next. Hard light is light that casts a strong crisp shadow. For example, on a bright sunny day you have a definitive shadow cast along the ground or objects near you. Soft light is light that doesn't produce much of a shadow. Much like light on a cloudy day when you have virtually no shadow. Some sort of diffusion is needed in most cases to transform hard light into soft light. Softboxes, umbrellas, reflectors etc all diffuse light. That means, they scatter the light. 

The distance the light source is from the subject has an effect on the hardness of the light as well. The closer the light source is to the subject, the softer the light in many cases. Move the light away and the light becomes harder. If you are using a softbox and have it 2 feet from your subject it will produce much softer light than if you move the same softbox to a distance of 12 feet from your subject. That is because when the softbox is closer to your subject it is larger in comparison to when it is far away from your subject. The larger the light source, the softer the light. The smaller the light source, the harder the light.  

Bouncing light is a great way to diffuse light and make it softer. If you are in a room with a white ceiling and your flash is on camera, point the flash at a bit of an angle so it will bounce off the ceiling and onto your subject. The ceiling will act as a diffuser and it will spread the light out resulting in fewer harsh shadows on your subject. When bouncing light off of surfaces to diffuse it, you have to watch for color cast. Color cast is when the light is reflected off of a colored surface and the light picks up a tint of that color.

Another thing to consider when you are using light is the amount of fall off. What is fall off? Fall off is the lowering of intensity of light over a distance. It is similar to shooting a shotgun. When the gun fires, the pellets exit the barrel in a tightly packed cluster. As they travel through the air, the space between each pellet increases and the cluster becomes more broad. So, the farther away from the gun/light source the more spread out the pellets/light falling on the desired surface is. So, the farther from your light source, the less light there is to light your subject. This phenomenon is called the inverse square law - The intensity of light varies inversely with the square of the distance of the source. In essence, if you want your subject brighter (without changing the amount of power used or changing the shutter speed, iso or aperture), move the light closer to the subject. 

Speedlite Recommendations

January 20, 2014  •  2 Comments


Often, I am asked about using flash in photography. Many people want to know about studio strobes, speedlites and continuous lighting. Today I am going to talk about speedlites. The reason I am talking about speedlites is because they are what I use 98% of the time. They are very easy to use, carry, set-up, manipulate and more. In the past I have used several different brands of speedlights with several different capabilities. Recently, I have really become enamoured with the Yongnuo speedlites. Why? For starters, they are relatively inexpensive. I mean, who isn't on a budget and who doesn't like getting a lot of bang for their buck? Lets look at the 3 main speedlites that I like to use from Yongnuo. In case you are wondering, no I am not a compensated spokesperson for them, I just have had great success with them and love them.

Lets look at the YN-560. There are now 4 versions of this speedlite, the 560, 560-II, 560-III and now the 560ex. Each has slight improvements over the other, but they are basically the same in regards to performance. The 560 is a 100% manual speedlite. It has a single pin and can be used on just about any camera that has a standard hot-shoe. These are basically the same shape and size as a Canon 580EXII Speedlite. They also put out about the same amount of light. Now, for those of you just starting out, 100% manual means you will have to change and adjust every single setting on the flash. From zoom range to output it is all up to you and you will need to do this on the speedlight itself. There is no wireless control on the first 3 versions. So, if you want to fire this speedlight off-camera, you will have to set it up as either an optical slave or use triggers. The newest version, the 560ex claims to be compatible with master commander mode found in some Canon and Nikon cameras. I have not used this version so I can not comment on it. They offer flash control adjustable incrementally from 1/1 full power down to 1/128 power in 1/3 stop increments. 

The next version I want to talk a little about is the 565ex. This has the same shape and light output as the 560 but this is a TTL flash. There is a Canon version and a Nikon version. I am not 100% but I believe there is a Sony version as well. The big upgrades from the 560 are: TTL, compatible with both Canon and Nikon wireless, rear curtain sync, multi-mode, FEC, FEB, overheating protection and it can be controlled with your on camera menu. Paired with Yongnuo's 622 triggers you can do some pretty great off camera lighting setups and control everything in camera.

The final version I am going to discuss is the 568 exII. This, in my opinion, is the finest speedlite made by Yongnuo. Not only does it incorporate all of the good from the previously mentioned models, but it also has a few other fantastic features. The first of which is HSS, high speed sync. HSS allows you to use flash at higher shutter speeds than you can with a normal flash. This unit can sync at up to 1/8000 second. My second favorite feature of this speedlite is that it can be used as a master flash. It allows for different groups and channels. The shape of it has been changed and it mimics the Nikon sb-900. Again, this speedlite is compatible with both Canon and Nikon wireless, can be used as a slave unit and more. This is basically a Canon 580exII wrapped up in a nice neat less expensive package.

Both the 560 and the 565 have a port for an external battery pack. Unfortunately the 568 exII does not offer this feature.


Prices range from around $65.00 for the 560, $105.00 for the 565 and around $170.00 for the 568 exII 

Again, this is my experience and solely my viewpoints. To become more familiar with the listed speedlites, try one yourself.. 



tips for new photographers

January 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I am part of many photography groups on facebook and give helpful hints here and there. I can be pretty crass at times and pretty helpful at others. After answering tons of the same questions over and over again, I decided that for my first blog post I would give some helpful hints to beginning photographers. So, hopefully you will enjoy and learn something from this....


Tips for Brand New Photographers

Congratulations, you have just taken the plunge into the worlds most expensive, never ending hobby. Photography, the manipulation of light, can be extremely frustrating yet rewarding at the same time. Here are a few pointers that I feel every new photographer should follow as they begin their journey.

1.   Learn your camera inside and out. This means read your manual, learn the buttons, what the buttons do how to change your settings etc.

2.   Learn lighting. Learn to master one, off camera flash before you add more light.

3.   GET IT RIGHT IN CAMERA. This means, learn to use your camera and take great photos BEFORE you even think about using an editing program. Photoshop was built to enhance and finish your photos. It wasn’t meant as a tool to correct your mistakes because you don’t know how to properly use a camera.

4.   Shoot in manual mode. If you are shooting in automatic, you are never going to get anywhere; any monkey can shoot in auto and get a decent photo every now and then.

5.   PRACTICE… practice, practice, practice…yes; we are talking about practice…so DO IT.

6.   Before you can make ‘art’ you must first understand the tools involved. Learn composition and the proper rules of photography before you create ‘art’. Yes, rules are made to be broken but if you can’t produce a decent photo by following the rules, you sure as hell won’t do it by breaking them.

7.   Stay as far away from ‘dutch tilt’ and ‘selective coloring’ as possible…sure your 7th grade daughter and her friends like it, but really….stay away from it…it is not ‘art’ nor is it proper photography


Once you follow these steps and really delve into what they say, you will see a tremendous change for the better in your photography. Following these guidelines will help you become closer to the photographer you dream of being…trust me on this…..


I could add more and more and more to this list. However, doing so would probably make you throw your camera in the garbage… for more tips, please visit my website www.tpaynephotography.com and follow my blog…



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