Category Archives: Photography

Paul’s Photo Tips – Tip 2 – Read the Manual

Learn Your Camera – Read the Manual

This is obvious to me, but it seems few people read manuals for anything.

Do you know what every button on your camera does? What all those menu items are?

I strongly encourage folks to read their manuals, and follow along and practice changing settings on the camera. Don’t worry that you may “screw something up.” More than likely there’s a single menu item to return everything to default settings.

Manufacturers put hours and hours into developing manuals. I occasionally get work editing manuals translated from, say, Japanese to English (I’m a freelance editor with some connections in Japan).  I know how thorough and detailed the process is for developing manuals that are accurate, readable, and understandable.

I try to skim my camera manuals every year or two, and always find stuff I’ve forgotten, or have never tried. You might be surprised by features available on your camera that you may have not known existed! I keep the manuals out in a prominent spot in a bookshelf in my office, and delve into them from time to time.

If you find the manufacturer’s manual dry, publishers like RockyNook offer books on how to use, and get the most out of, popular camera models.

Of course digital cameras also come with software, and that software also has a manual. Yes, I’m going to advise reading that manual, too!

But I’m not going to get into the software side now.

Have fun reading!

What? You threw out your manual?

Go to your camera maker’s website and download it (they’re nearly always free to download even if you haven’t registered your camera).

Sediment Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

Somebody was being naughty today, allowing sediment to flow into Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby.

Vigilant streamkeepers reported the ugly looking and potentially fish-killing pollution to the City of Burnaby. Thanks to the volunteers who keep “eyes on the creek” and immediately notify the City of any problems. And thanks to City staff who responded quickly.

It was obvious which storm pipe the sediment came from, as can be seen in the photos below.

Sediment in Byrne Creek in Burnaby, BC
If you were a fish, amphibian, aquatic insect, or any other animal, do you think you’d like to be swimming in that?

Source of sediment entering Byrne Creek in BurnabyHere you can clearly see that the sediment entered the creek through this storm outlet.

Sediment in Byrne CreekAnother view. The flow here in the upper portion of the creek on a dry day is so slow that this “slug” of sediment was barely moving. It’ll take a rain to flush it out of the creek.

Edmonds City Fair & Car Show 2014 Great Fun Despite Rain

I was asked to be the event photographer for yesterday’s Edmonds City Fair & Car Show in SE Burnaby. It was a great event, with lots of activities for all ages. While it drizzled intermittently, with a real soaking for the last half hour or so, people had lots of fun, and stuck it out to the end with great spirit.

I focused on people and not so much the vehicles on display. You can view my Flickr album here.

Edmonds City Fair 2014


Paul’s Photo Tips – Tip 1

I was asked to share some photography tips at an event a few weeks ago for streamkeepers who volunteer in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia. I thought perhaps I’d share them here on my blog, too, offering a tip every couple of days.

So here goes with tip 1:

Take a class or three. Often camera stores offer free or cheap classes when you purchase a camera. Your community centre likely has introduction to photography courses. Major camera makers like Canon and Nikon offer travelling courses. Take advantage of these.

OK, let me expand upon that. If you’re a newbie, any instruction is valuable. Good photography is a craft, and can be a fine art. Cameras are fine, complex, tools. It takes years to learn, but it’s easy to start down the road with today’s inexpensive auto-everything cameras.

You may not aspire to be an artist, and if you just want to take better photos of family and friends, of activities you participate in, and trips you take, learn your camera and a bit about the principles of photography. It’s worth it!

If you’re experienced, workshops and seminars pitched at higher levels are excellent for stimulating creativity, learning new techniques, and broadening your mind.

What’s my photography learning history?

(I shall now wax exuberant upon my photography education. This may, or may not, be boring for folks. I do hope you’ll follow along, though. . . )

I started out at school in my early teens, learning the rudiments of camera work, processing B&W film, and making prints in a darkroom. I volunteered as a photographer on my high school paper, and at university papers. I read voraciously, subscribing to several photography magazines and buying as many books as I could afford.

As a kid I hung out at the local camera store for hours, bugging the ever-patient staff. They taught me things, let me handle new gear, and gave me great deals, pointing me to great savings on used equipment, and so on.

My first SLR was a Mamiya-Sekor 500DTL. It came with the standard 50mm lens, and eventually I added a 28mm wide-angle and a 135mm telephoto. Flashes, extension tubes, filters, and other accessories were added bit by bit. The Mamiya used the Pentax screw mount,  so eventually I picked up a used Pentax body or two, the models which I no longer remember. I still have the 500DTL and 50mm lens though!

Eventually I moved up to pro gear, laying out significant dollars for a Nikon F2, with 24/2.8, 50/1.4, 55/3.5 micro, 105/2.5, 80-200 zoom, etc. The backup body then was a Nikkormat FT2, eventually followed by an N2000 with a Vivitar Series 1 28-105 zoom.

Somewhere in there I also had a few other cameras bought used and cheap.

I took a couple of photography classes at the university level through the Fine Arts department. The instructors taught me patience, lighting, composition, “seeing” and more.

As a teen I earned enough money doing event photography to mostly cover the cost of my equipment.

Unfortunately, much of my B&W work, and other photography in the mid-70s to early 80s was lost in a sewage backup when I was living in a basement suite. Such is life. I now have multiple backups of my digital files, and keep remote backups on hard drives in a safety deposit box at my bank. Read that last sentence again!

There was a fallow period in my late 20s to late 30s when I was pretty much satisfied with point-and-shoots and casual photography, but the digital revolution drew me back and reignited my passion.

It was just so cool to be able to take hundreds and thousands of “free” photos. Well, not free, you had to buy a couple of memory cards and backup hard drives, but compared to Kodachrome (which was lovely) or Fujichrome (which had its own atmosphere), digital was freeing. You could afford to shoot more, experiment more.

I got my first digital camera, a Kodak DC4800, in March 2001. Since then I’ve gone through a succession of pocketable Canon PowerShot Elphs (you can pretty much rely that I’ll have one of these on me all the time).

My first DSLR was a Nikon D300. I got it in August 2008, and I still use the heavy, solid, semi-pro machine. I love that it can work with my ancient manual Nikkor lenses. I’ve added a Nikon D5200 as a second body, and would love to get a D7100 or its replacement some day. Not to mention eventually getting a full-frame DSLR. . .

The good news is that I am making a bit of money from photography again, covering events like I did as a kid. I’m not interested in wedding or commercial photography, but events, documentary, landscapes and nature/wildlife would be great to make $$ at. 🙂

So that’s where I’m coming from.

And that’s where my tips will come from.

Hope you’ll follow along!

First Shots with New 150-600mm Tamron Zoom

I took a bunch of photos today with the new Tamron 150-600mm zoom (225-900mm equivalent on my DX-sensor Nikons).

Here are a few from the Byrne Creek habitat in SE Burnaby:

Butterfly on leaf

butterfly on leaf byrne creek A slightly different view

Grasshopper Byrne Creek
Grasshopper in Byrne Creek habitat in SE Burnaby

And several from Piper Spit at Burnaby Lake in Burnaby:

Goslings Burnaby LakeGoslings at Piper Spit, Burnaby Lake

Wood ducks Burnaby LakeFemale wood ducks, Burnaby Lake

Female wood duck Burnaby LakeI think female wood ducks are so cute!

Male wood duck Burnaby LakeWhile male wood ducks are quite spectacular

Ducks in lilly padsDuck playing hide and seek among the lillypads

Feather on lillypad

Lillypad blossom

Sleepy duck at Burnaby LakeSnoozing afloat

Dragonfly at Burnaby LakeA common whitetail dragonfly?

All of the above shots were with the Tamron 150-600 on a Nikon D5200 camera. ISOs ranged from 400 in bright sunlight to 1,600 in shade to keep shutter speeds high. The lens was mounted on a  Manfrotto 679B monopod with a Vanguard SBH-100 ball head.

While heavy, this rig is not unmanageable. I think I would have soon tired if the rig had not been on a monopod. It was useful not only for stabilization while shooting, but also to simply stand and rest!

Tamron 150-600mm Zoom Arrives

I ordered a Tamron 150-600 zoom lens several months ago, knowing that the new lens had gained instant popularity and was near impossible to find in stock anywhere. It finally arrived today. I have yet to take it out for a shoot, but zounds, it is big.

Tamron 150-600 zoom
Here it is next to an 18-200mm Nikkor

tamron_150_600_extendedAnd here it is fully extended

For best results, I’m sure a tripod is recommended : -).

On my DX format Nikon DSLRs, this baby will have an effective focal length of 225-900mm. I can’t wait to get out somewhere like the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary to try it out.