As Spring Rolls In…. Thoughts

Wow!!  Does time ever fly!!!  Over the last few months, I’ve been taking a bit more time for photography than I normally have been.  I’m a consulting  IT Business Analyst  and have been sitting in between contracts for a bit now with the Oil and Gas industry pretty well grinding to a halt Sad smile   It’s been both good and bad, in one sense.  The good part, is that I am able to get caught up on “stuff” that normally doesn’t get done as well as focus on photography a bit more.  The bad part, is that I’m not working.  Am I worried?  Well, sort of, but at the same time, I’m happy for the extra time.

As an IT type of person, I’m in a “busy” career path if you are familiar with this career path or know of people in this business sector.  I’m very technical for a Business Analyst type – pretty “geeky”, and getting on in my years.  HOWEVER, in saying that, I leverage my past experience for everything it’s worth in today’s world.  When I got back into digital photography about  three years ago, I came back in with roughly 15 years of 35mm film experience with a background in retail/distribution, purchasing, free lancing, darkroom work.  We should also get something straight right off the bat.  I never really was without a camera.  I was in that mode of “casual” photography.  Mostly of the kids, family events, “simple” vacation photos – you know – the simpler side of things from the photo perspective.

I’ve mentioned this before – when I came back into the “craft”, it was from a very different “angle”, if you want to call it that.  It came from both wanting to be able to take more photos again, but at the same time, being mobile.  My life has changed quite radically from the 35mm days and in today’s world, “busy” has taken on a whole new meaning Smile  I’ve been in the computer space for the most part since the beginning of  the PC and even though there were a few bumps in there, it’s been good to me.   Going into the consulting side of things over the last 8 years or so has allowed me the comfort of being able to afford to move quickly to try things.  And I did when it came to photography – I acquired gear like crazy trying to figure out the digital side of things.

Back to the spring thing.  Over the last month or so, I started to work in RAW with the cameras I own that can shoot RAW.  This was prompted by a few of my pro friends pushing me there plus some research plus an upcoming course where I will have to know about RAW.  To explain a bit more….  notice I mentioned cameras.  I own roughly 15 cameras that range from pointy shooties to DSLR’s.  Part of the the 3 year journey.  My DSLR’s are Nikon and my preference is to utilize 2 bodies with two zooms.  I have more lenses, but this is my base gear.  Despite all the stuff I read about pros using primes all the time, the pros I know, tend to use zooms.  Discussions have revealed, that it’s more than sharp enough for most things.  I use APS-C sensor cameras in the D3200 and D5100, which is also adequate should I venture closer to the pro side from what I have been told.

From my experience and learning from the 35mm days,  I am a firm believer in “getting the shot right the first time” and still am.  As a result of that, I’ve shot JPEG’s along the way.  The other thing that I have found is that the digital space is very different from the world of 35mm.  Some discoveries:

1.  The “Art” itself hasn’t changed that much in one sense.  The basic “rules” still hold – a good photo is still a good photo.  Digital has allowed very different things that can be done with the art.

2.  Technology has made it easier to take photo’s.  The sheer number of photos that are being taken is mind boggling.  Good that more people are taking photos, but what are they doing with them.  The quality is also there for the most part.  Surprisingly good.

3.  Social media and the internet make the world accessible.  If you have thoughts of going pro, it’s a very different market  now.  A photographer today, has to not only understand their gear, there’s software and the internet to deal with.  More complicated in one sense.

4.  Once you hit the serious amateur side of things, there seems to be this tendency to “pixel peep”, or become a little more concerned about sharpness and noise.  Almost to a fault.  The camera manufacturers keep putting out more and more advanced “stuff” to cash in that obsession.  When I was shooting in 35mm and in low light with high speed Black and White, getting the shot was the important piece, grain was second.  Today, we call the grain “noise” if I got my understanding right Smile  Back then we used that grain to enhance the “mood” of the shot. 

5.  There is a lot of time that can be sucked up doing post work.  In learning more about RAW and the software associated with it, I am REALLY glad that I have a bit of time to learn about this.  I’ve also found that RAW  isn’t necessarily RAW.  Each manufacturer has it’s own version and “It ain’t the camera”, and I really agree with that.  A little more later on that.

So – back to spring.  It’s here!!!  Stuff here in Calgary hasn’t started turning green yet, but it’s getting close.  I am so looking forward to getting out and about more.  For the first time since I got into this, I feel I’m at the stage where I was back in 35mm with my DSLR’s.  It’ not that I’m ignoring the rest of the gear, is more being able to do certain things with the DSLR’s that I can’t do with the rest of my gear.  One of them is the super wide angle stuff – landscapes and scenics.  As nice as it would be to have something for my Panasonic GX1, it really didn’t exist, so I went to a Tamron 10-24 mm zoom.  In 35mm terms, that give me the equivalent of 15mm to 36mm.  Back in the day, the majority of my landscape stuff was done with the 17 and 20mm lenses.  Interior work was done with a 24mm and other stuff could be managed with the 28 or 35mm lens.  I have that with this zoom.  This was actually the one lens that actually held me back in some respects. 

Am I going to add more gear coming into this season?  You know – I really don’t think so.  A few accessories, maybe, but from the “big stuff” standpoint, probably not.  If I do, it’ll be to add a third body – a D7100 with an 18 – 140 to get the extra horsepower and functions.  The one thing I’ve found in shooting in RAW, is that under certain conditions, especially when I do sequence shots, the camera (D3200)  becomes unusable for about 10 seconds while the buffer writes out.  The D5100 is better, but file sizes are smaller too. Faster SD cards hasn’t helped – it’s simply a processing issue – the processor isn’t fast enough to handle this.  To make matters worse, I’m also set up at the moment, anyway, in RAW + JPEG Fine, so that doesn’t help either.

Now – about RAW.  From my understanding of this format, it’s all the data that the camera sensor captures. JPEG’s are what you get with the camera settings in place and what the processor “thinks” is a good photo.  Soooo… in reality, if you set the camera up correctly, there shouldn’t  be any difference between the JPEG and the RAW.  What the RAW does give you though, is all the data not just what the processor settings were, so the file is much larger.  Because you have so much information, you have more flexibility in post processing.  Whew!! That was a mouthful eh?  (Had to toss that in – Canadian Smile)  What I have been doing, is shooting with both formats to compare and ensure I’m doing stuff at my end right.  The good news – I am Smile  BUT, in saying that – RAW still has advantages.

This is where the post piece starts to come into play.  Yes, I can do more with RAW, but the cost is time.  TONS of time.  Granted, I’m still in the learning side of things, but the time factor is significant.  What it does emphasize though, is how important it is to learn how to do it right the first time Smile  Before I forget, I am set up with computer equipment that can handle those larger files Smile 

Soooo…. coming into this spring – the attack plan.  I will likely continue to use my DSLR’s set at both RAW +JPEG Fine.  My other two units, the Fuji X10 and Panasonic GX1, I’ll likely leave them at JPEG Fine.  I do some free lancing and when doing those, I will likely shoot exclusively RAW, but we’ll see when I get there.  I also want to expand WHAT I take pics of.  I’m only 45 minutes away from the Rockies and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges around and don’t get there that often.  That’s gotta change.  I’ve designed some new stuff to test for my outdoor plant stuff – can hardly wait to try it outdoors.  I do want to get some studio “stuff” – backdrop and lights, but it’s not a priority yet.  Likely for this fall.  More consistency in my blogs – I have a lot started but nothing finished  – that’s gotta change.



Managing Those Photos – Techy Stuff

Being a consulting IT Business Analyst  as well as an avid photographer, I was thinking the other day about how others manage their photos.  My  personal interests are quite wide as well as what my wife does so we tend to have a lot of information on home network.  In today’s world, I can’t help but think that many of us do have a bit of a network at home.  Or not :-)  I thought I would impart some information about what I have done from a photo perspective as it relates to the world of IT and a bit of info on home networks.  And, of course, managing all those photos.

Where are you storing your photos?

Sounds simple enough right?  I’m guessing that many folks will respond with the answer “That’s a no-brainer – my computer of course”.  Soooo… the bigger question here is – what happens if the computer crashes?  OR the hard disk crashes?  All those photos, not to mention, other perhaps important data will go away.  Depending on circumstance, data may or may not be replaceable.  Photos aren’t.  Are you backing up on a regular basis.  You know, my experience with many has been – NO.  They don’t think of this until it’s too late.  Granted – this is one of the downside of all this technology we are using.  Maintenance is a pain in the butt :-( 

There are several different types of storage devices out there, but if you have a small home network, it’s probably the easiest to have an external server or external hard disk of some sort.  Now this can be either attached to your computer in the form of a USB type device OR it could be a hard disk that sits on your home network. The advantage of the network type drive, is that they sit on your home network and are accessible anywhere.  Most of today’s routers have wireless capability so you can actually get your drive wirelessly as well.  Is there a downside?  Maybe – wireless is slower than say a direct hard wire on your home network. 

How big?  Size of disk is always a concern.  My answer – it depends :-)  I’m going to backtrack a bit.

The computer you use – is it a desktop unit or a notebook?  OR do you have both?  I’ll give you a bit of information on my home network to illustrate – it’ll be perhaps easier to understand.  Our downstairs office is allocated mostly as an accounting and printing environment.  It also holds our servers or disks.  Yes – servers.  I have 3 servers or external hard disks there.  Total storage runs about 6 TB.  This room also holds a desktop unit and our fax/copier/laser printer  and color printers.  The desktop unit is used for our accounting and printing.  The servers hold all our data.  One of the servers is utilized specifically for backups.  This room is also set up to be “hard wired” or using physical cable to connect everything.  We have a fax/copier/scanner, an older Canon one that is connected directly to the desktop and the two inkjets are connected to the network.  The external hard disks/servers are also hard wired. The router is a Cisco 1GB router with wireless and there is also a 4 port switch attached to accommodate all the things we have connected.

Our upstairs office is completely wireless :-)  We also have desktop unit there plus a little HP Laserjet for printing emails and those quick “things”.  My wife has her laptop and I have a couple also that are tied in.  We have several tablets that are also on our network. 

Downloading and Image Processing and Filing….

My upstairs desktop unit is where I do my off loading from my cameras and also any editing things.  The desktop unit is an HP TouchSmart with a 24inch display and one of those All-In-One Units.  I got this due to space constraints.  It does use an AMD processor that is equivalent to an i5 Intel and has 6 GB of RAM with a 1 TB internal hard disk.  I also have a 2 TB external hard disk on this unit as well.  I also have a TreeFrog 10 port USB hub attached.for synching my tablets, etc.  The external hard disk is using USB 3.0, so is very fast.  This desktop is used for everything except accounting, actually.


For the most part, the only thing the internal hard disk holds, is applications.  My photo software is mostly Corel Paintshop Pro X6.  I,of course, have the usual office stuff – MS office, etc. plus plus plus….. Do I use the internal hard disk for anything else?  Not really – I download directly to the external drive.  Every once in a while though, I need to use the extra speed that the internal drive provides, but not that often. 

From an imaging standpoint – Any preliminary down loading and processing of images is done on this machine first.  Once the editing is done, the images are then copied down to the main server.  Note – I said copied, not moved.  So… now I have two copies.  Once I back up the main server, I will delete the images on the image processing machine.  OR not… :-)  Depending on the type of work, it may sit there for a while too.  Especially the volunteer things my wife does.   Or my blog photos.  Once they are on the main server, my wife will usually print what she needs or email.  A lot of our stuff is usually for web or newsletters, so we will re-size images using Faststone Resizer if necessary. 

For downloading images, I prefer to pull the SD cards and use an SD Card reader.  Way faster.  The one I use is the Lexar one – it’s USB 3.0 and it’s pretty quick :-) 


Arranging Those Files

As a Business Analyst, one of the things I deal with every day, literally, is managing files.  When it came down to setting up a directory structure, we decided to categorize like this:

The highest level is named “ \Data”.  When I do a backup, I can just back up this one directory and I’m good:-) 

Under the \Data directory I then categorize based on what I do on that drive.  It looks like this :


These are the high level categories that I use on a day to day basis.  Inside the Digital Photos directory we broke it down further to the following:

Events – these are the various events that we attend and take photos from.  They are broken down again to things like volunteer work or family events, etc.

Blog Photos – this is where I put my blog photos.  I copy the original here and then create a new directory called \web where I put the resized ones.  The directory is named the same as the blog. 

Backups – this is where I back up my SD cards.  They are further divided down by camera and then by date.

Camera directories

Once they are here, I can copy them to their respective directories.  Notice I said copy :-)  Once their are downloaded, I can re-format the SD card and its good to go for the next event/whatever. 

A quick hint that I discovered in my research.  Always re-format that SD card in the camera you are using.  This has to do with how the camera stores images.  Some cameras store the image data slightly differently and you may hit a point where the card just stops working.  Just a thought.  There is software out there to recover the information, but still…. just to be safe.  And while I’m at SD cards – get good ones.  SanDisk/Lexar/Sony/Panasonic – there are probably more out there.  Your instruction manual on the camera will usually list the supported cards,  Class 10?  Well, for me, I tend to stay with the Class 10 cards wherever possible.  I also have some Class 6 cards.  Personal preference.  Class 4’s are the cheapest, but if you need to do high speed sequential type shots, the card may not be able to record the images.  Movies are a good example of why you need the faster cards.  I tend to use the faster cards in all my cameras.

Places – As the name implies, these are the various places we visit.  Typically on holidays, business trips, etc.

People – When we are visiting a specific person, we put the pics here.  These might be as simple as Grandkids :-) 

Properties – we have revenue properties and invest in real estate.  Anytime we do anything that pertains to real estate, they go here.

Stills – BIG area here – anything that relates to close ups, plants, product photography end up here.  Landscapes, though are carefully put into the \Places directory.

Test Photos – I use this directory when I’m doing test shots with various cameras.  If I keep any here, they get moved.

To Be Sorted – sometimes I’m using several cameras across an event.  My wife can use up to 3 cameras.  This is the sorting area before they get moved.

I have other directories depending on what I need at the time.  Now remember, this is just on one computer.  The directory structure is duplicated on the main server as well!

Sounding like a lot of work?  ABSOLUTELY!!! 

This took a looonnnngg time to put together.  It started with a single server and expanded as I started to run out of space.  Which brings us to another area – how much is enough space?  Interesting question:-)  Again this evolves over a period of time.  One of tougher things to look at.  In today’s world, if you shoot even with .jpegs in fine mode, your photos can be anywhere from 2 MB to 12 MB depending on the camera.  Technology is also bringing the price down very quickly.  I decided not too long ago that I wanted a fairly large disk and got a 4 TB one only to find out that once I backed up everything, I had sucked up 2 TB!!  Now this was 4 or 5 computers over a year.  Bottom line – don’t be scared to get too much space.  If you are a serious amateur and using RAWs, they start at 25 MB per photo and so you can fill up disk pretty quick :-)  AND this is just photos!!!

Other maintenance things.  Have you ever heard of defragging?  If you are in Windows, one of the things that happens is when you started to write to the disk, those bits and pieces can be put anywhere there is space. Without getting too complicated, a file can technically be in several spaces.  Defragging can put those files in what’s called contiguous blocks – together, for all intents and purposes.  Ever noticed that over a period of time, your computer seems to get slower and slower?  That’s because the disk is seeking to find those files.  Depending on how much you use your PC, defragging can keep it running nice and fast.  Caveats?  YES – if you happen to have one of those solid state drives on your computer (SSD’s they’re called), you shouldn’t defrag them.  Research has shown that it doesn’t help them for some reason.  Many because they don’t use a physical platter, I think.

SD Cards and How Many Should You Have. 

This has a always been a bit of a nitpick with many.  I’ve heard everything from one to a bunch :-)  When I’m on a formal shoot, I tend to take several cameras.  I personally try to stay with smaller cards – 4 to 8 GB ones depending on the shoot.  Other times, like holidays, I’ll use higher capacity ones.  In either event, I’ll off load them as fast as I can.  Call it paranoia :-)  I also try to use separate cards for each type of event an not combine events on one card.  That may change depending on what I shoot, but for the more formal events, this is what I’ll do.  Something less casual, where I’m only going to be shooting say 10 or 20 shots, well, that card might stay in there a while.  That card will get backed up and re-formatted OR I’ll slip in a new card before heading out on a formal shoot.  I recently got a Pelican Case for my SD Cards – it’s not the only case, but just a better way to manage stuff :-)  I don’t have to worry about losing a card if I’m in a hurry, which can happen and has on certain event shoots.  Thankfully they fell into my camera case 🙂

Pelican Case SD cards

What About the “Cloud” ?

Recent technology called the “cloud” has become more and more of a reality.  For all intents and purposes, you are storing your data or photos somewhere in cyberspace.  Saves you having to acquire hardware,  The one thing here, is that eventually you will have to buy space.  For us, we have something like 100 GB of photos if not more and most places charge for that type of space.  Sorry – not for me.  The other side of it – I want to make sure I have control over my stuff.  There are several out there – DropBox, OneDrive to name a couple.  How do I use the cloud?  Well, as a BA, I use the cloud to transfer information between computers.  Sometimes I have to work from home and there’s no VPN, so the cloud is an easy way to move information.  Certain social events where I take candid photos – I’ll the photos in the cloud and grant access to certain people so they can download the photos.  Much easier than making a gazillion copies :-)  And then the ugly one – what happens if the provider goes broke or something?  Not that it happens that often, but for me – no thanks.  I’ll stay with my own gear.

Assessing What You Need

Each person has a different vision of what they need.  For me, I have always worked on the premise of having the right tools for the job.  I am prepared to get the equipment I need  to do my “stuff” efficiently.  If that means acquiring more disk, so be it.  If I need to get another camera – so be it.  Compared to other reviews I’ve read, I tend to look at these tongue and cheek.  I use that information to fill my knowledge gaps and proceed based on what I want to do.  For many, that’s not as easy as it sounds.  It all breaks down to doing some research and finding the way.


Maybe a Handy Tool or Two…Other Thoughts….

Yesterday, I was doing a little instruction thing for my wife and needed to point out some buttons and things on our TV/DVD controllers.  I decided to use my Panasonic GX1 and create the instructions in Word.  Once I took the photos, though, the question of  “which tool” to do the annotations.  Most photo applications use apps that are designed to manipulate the photo, not necessarily be able to annotate a photo from what I’ve been able to see. It’s not that it can’t be done, just a bit of a pain the butt to me.  I like things to be simple 🙂

In my other life (:-)), I’m an IT Consultant – Business Analyst, to be precise, and depending on the assignment, I’m using some diagramming tool or another.  Business Process, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, and on and on…..  The occasional assignment, though, involves software development and with that comes GUI (Graphical User Interface) design or User Interface Design.  In this space, there are several tools that are designed to shorten the design process.   The are called screen annotation tools.  Generally speaking, as the name implies, these tools are used to annotate screen shots during the design process.  There are more advanced tools that actually can animate the screen navigation (such as Balsamiq) as well – all in the quest to shorten the interface design time.  I won’t go into anymore details here. 

There are a few tools that I’ve used – one called Skitch and the other one is Screenpresso.  Both of them, of course, do slightly different things :-)  One of the things I like with these tools is that they are fast and easy to learn and use.  Though they are designed to be used for screenshots, for the most part, they work surprisingly well for photos.  Skitch is free for Windows 8.1.  There are some neat apps that can do this as well via my iPad, but I”m not going to go there :-)  That’s too much work moving stuff around.  As much as I like my iPad and my Apple products, they don’t talk nice w/Windows for what I do so Apple is out of my world in photo.  Many people swear by them, but I tend to swear at them.  My world as a consultant is Windows.  I may try Apple one day, but not in the foreseeable future for me.  Here’s a quickie example:


For me personally, I’m one that constantly looks for various things that can make my  life easier :-)  I’m not too scared to try new technology and at the same time, I try to use certain things across as many areas as possible.  In the world of photography and coupled in the IT space and being a consultant ( I do have my own company), skill transfer has been an invaluable “skill”.  My photography, for instance, covers not only the hobby aspect of things, because I have my cameras with me all the time, I have them available for any photos that might be required for me for my work.  Last week, I was developing a tutorial on how to hook up live equipment for the test lab and took photos of the backs of the various video devices so I could incorporate them into my tutorial.  Because I have a camera with me most times, I also take photos of houses as a future purchase or perhaps a future renovation idea.  For my blogs, I always have a camera within reach ( do have a few ….), so for the shot above, I took the shot, pulled it into Skitch, saved it out and put into this entry.  Simple and easy 🙂

For most people, tools like this probably wouldn’t matter.  In fact, I would venture a guess that most in the photo game are more in Adobe PhotoShop or LightRoom space to deal with exposure, etc.  For me, at this stage anyway, I simply don’t have that kind of time.  It’s easier for me to get the shot right the first time, and not bother with too much software.  I do a bit in software, but in reality, I’m quite happy with the photos that I’m getting.  I might get pickier as I get into paid gigs, but you know – even then, the plan is to have the knowledge and the correct equipment so I don’t need to spend the time.  Tools just don’t just stop at software though.  Let’s talk about other tools to make life a little easier.

Spare Batteries – I guess this is a bit of a “depends” thing.  There are two areas where batteries come into play.  The first is for your camera.  If you find yourself in situations where you are constantly running out of battery power, it’ might not be a bad idea to have a spare one.  In saying that, I have spare batteries for my DSLR’s, Compact System Cameras and Advanced Cameras like my Fuji X10 and LX7.  They are my work horse cameras.  For my Fuji XF1 and others, I normally don’t. I find that when I have my travel cameras, I very rarely find myself in situations where I need over 100 flash shots, give or take.  I tend to always have a couple of cameras with me and for most things I do on a casual basis, say landscapes, etc., I don’t take more than that.  If I’m at an event where I know I’m going to taking a lot of shots, I’ll have one of my other cameras with me.  For flash – I’ll always have some spares. 

SD Cards – This is basically your film :-)  A lot will depend on your camera as to what size one should have, but then again, they are cheap, so having several never hurts.  I have a bunch of hem and I have good ones.  SanDisk is one of my favourites but I also have Sony & Lexar.  I have something like 12 cameras, give or take, so to say I have a lot of cards is an understatement :-)  I also use Class 10 cards to ensure I have the highest write speeds.  Size?  Depends on the shoot.  My smaller cameras have either 4 or 8 GB.  The rest use 8 GB or larger.  If I’m going to shoot a lot, 16 GB or 32 GB.  There’s nothing worse than having a card blow out on you.  One thing I have learned – always format your cards in the camera. 

A lot, for me, depends  on time available but I don’t always have time to off load my cards, though it’s always a good idea to do that at every chance.  For my wife’s volunteer work, I make the time to unload her cards as soon as possible.  Her work gets published, so it’s critical.  For me, it depends :-)  If it’s a volunteer shoot, yes, they are off loaded right away.  Other stuff – not so much.  Another thing, if you are shooting a lot of various things, and taking a fair number of photos, it’s easy to just swap out a card.

Cameras and Lenses – This is always a dicey area :-)  I’m an equipment junky and do have a lot of gear.  My approach is a little different than most as I decided to have cameras instead of say a camera and a pile of lenses.  A lot of this, I attribute to the path I took getting to DSLR’s.  I like to have a camera or two with me at all times but want to stay mobile and light.  That basically means my travel cameras.  If I’m doing a paid shoot, or a volunteer event for my wife, then the big stuff comes out.  Mobility goes out the window here – equipment, and good equipment is the order of the day.  I do about 5 events per year where my photos are going to be used for publication.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to get back to where I was in the 35mm days.  Not to where I’m paid, so much, but where the shoots are starting to become very much like what I used to do. Over the last few events, I’ve been steadily adding to my DSLR arsenal.  I’m now at a point, where I feel I have the equipment to handle most shoots with confidence.  I used to have two bodies and pile of lenses.  This time around, I have fewer lenses, but I now have two bodies.  With two zooms I don’t have to worry about swapping out any more. 

I think each person getting involved in this craft has to make a decision on just how much gear one needs.  For me, I decided to invest over the long haul knowing it was going to not only going to cost a bit of money, but I had to re-I earn a few things.  Acquiring the 2nd body has gotten me to a “comfortable place” so to speak.  I’ve still got a bit to learn, but at the same time, I don’t have a lot learn :-)  The craft itself hasn’t changed, the tools have.   When I started to dive back in, one of the things that came up consistently was about learning your camera before upgrading.  What didn’t get addressed at the time, was “What if I already had a good handle on the craft and just wanted to get gear to meet my objectives?” 

Bags – OK – this can become a bit of a challenge to me.  I’ve been acquiring more than a few bags over the last little while to address certain things I want to carry on any one given day.  I’ve been focusing on the DSLR’s but still always carry something smaller.  Now, with an extra body, the world has changed again :-)  I doubt I’ll get another bag at this stage, though.  I’ll stay with what I have for now.  I’ve got a bit of thinking to do:-) 

Flash Units – Up until recently, say in the last 6 months or so, I’ve relied on the in-built flashes.  For what I was doing at the time, this was ore than adequate.  Once I started to go beyond the “casual” stuff, the need for an external flash started to become more and more of a requirement.  .  When I first got the D3200, the flash was the last thing on my mind, but then so was the larger zoom:-)  What started the chain of events was a fashion show I shot last year.  I had gotten the Panasonic GX1 and felt that it would be adequate for the event.  I did a lot more scrambling than i thought – I had to swap batteries and ended up using my Fuji X10 towards the end.  The biggie here was battery power.  This year, for this event, I had the D3200 and decided on getting the SB400 for the event.  It actually worked fine, but it would have been nice to have a longer zoom.  I got the SB700 shortly after and then the 55-200mm.  I hadn’t worked with TTL and had balked at what the units cost, but in the end, it was worth the money.  The SB400 is a nice unit but the extra power and control of the SB700 takes me to a whole new level.  Having the new units is now an essential.  For others, it depends on where you take it 🙂

Tripods – Whew!! Almost forgot.   Depending on the type of work or just for having around, a tripod, for most of my things is almost a non-essential.  Note – I said almost.  BUT, for certain things, they become very necessary – big zoom stuff, product photography, etc.  When I went looking for a tripod, my thoughts tended toward mobility.  The problem with getting a good tripod that’s mobile AND being able to hold up a DSLR reasonably well, meant a bit of compromise.  The one I got was the ProMaster Carbon Fibre 5 section.  Not cheap and still had to add a decent ball head, but so far works a treat.  If I needed to take it on trip, I could easily do that.  For most things I’ve done so far – more than adequate.  If I get more serious, there’s no doubt I’ll need a better one, but we’ll see.

The other one that I’ve gotten and it’s been super handy at times, is the mid range GorrilaPod.  I got this one specifically for our Hawaii trip and soooooo… glad I got it.  At the time, the heaviest unit on it would be the Fuji X10 – and it probably will like that the next trip as well.  For me, I looked at the clone ones – not nearly as well built.  My general thoughts are to deal with things as I foresee them.  Do I use this one a lot?  Not as much as you would think, but enough that its paid for itself.  It actually paid for itself on our vacation – use it for some street shots and sunsets from our balcony :-)  I miss Hawaii……….

Computing Power  and Software – Because I am an IT Business Analyst as well as having revenue properties, I have a fair amount of computing power at home.  Storage is always an issue and I use servers on my home network.  I’ve had a system board and drives go out in my time, and the “data” has always been key, of course.  I have one machine that is typically used for my photography.  Separate machine for our accounting.  A notebook that I use primarily for traveling, journaling and blogging, For software, I opted for Corel Paint Shop Pro X6 on my main system and Corel Photo Impact X3 for my notebook.  What, you say – No Light Room or PhotoShop?  No.  Quite simply, I was dead against it.  I might end up having to go there, but for now, not essential.  I’m a firm believer in getting the correct shot the first time. 

This is one of the big things I’ve noticed between the people coming from 35mm and the ones coming in from digital.  The Digital ones, to me, tend to rely on post processing to finalize their images.  The ones form the world of 35mm tend to keep post processing to a minimum.  I’m in that space.  If you get the shot right the first time, there’s not need for post processing :-)  To get better, to me, one needs to be taking photos, not playing in software.  To me, one learns by taking photos and studying those photos to learn about exposure, color, composition.  Also, instead of studying software, looking at other’s work to see what you can do to “see” better.  The other side of this, of course, is to understand your gear to know what it can and can’t do or how to “work around” certain situations.  Understanding how that combination of ISO, Shutter Speed, and aperture is critical. Understanding depth of field, composition all come into play on the quest for those good shots.  Lots and lots of shots – different settings to see and ultimately know what those settings need to be for a given situation. 

Other Accessories – depending on what I’m shooting, I have other accessories.  Remote control, a light box for stills, a reflector.

Putting It All Together -  As I’ve probably alluded to, if you start to take this craft in a more serious light, there’s a lot to learn, and depending on WHAT you plan to do, there’s can be a lot gear (read  – expense).  I’m perhaps a little luckier than many as I have a lot of experience from my days in 35mm, so it’s more fitting gear to what I want to do than learning the craft, but then again, I learn something each time I’m out with my gear about my gear :-)  This craft is something that evolves over time. I lot of my friends are surprised at what I do with my travel cameras, for instance.  For that matter, even what my wife shoots with them.  To me, this is not rocket science :-)  For what they are designed to do, they do a pretty darn good job.  Pixel peepers will poo-poo  these cameras, and they are right in the fact that won’t hold up under commercial use, but you know, my wife uses one virtually all the time, and her stuff is published constantly :-)  The reality of this is – one needs to assess their own circumstances.  I personally wouldn’t rely on someone’s opinion unless they have the experience to back up their comments :-)  I have a lot of my friends come to me BECAUSE I have the experience with the cameras they are thinking about.  Not just something I read out of a review. 

About those reviews – For the most part, reviews are helpful in the fact that they can provide a bit of guidance if you are heading in a particular direction.  Those “Best of” reviews, I feel provide some of that guidance.  Understanding what YOU do or want to do, to me is VERY important.  The reviews will then provide the information to match.  I take the image quality piece very tongue in cheek as most probably don’t have the knowledge to  take advantage of that anyway :-)  Also pay attention to feature explanations.  Then, go find someone who either owns one or get to a camera place and “touch and feel” before making a decision.  You may or may not decide to buy online too, though, for a new camera, I want to take it home and shoot.  Personal.  If one is new to the craft, just about any digital camera will produce a reasonable quality image.  It’s not the quality of the image, BTW – it’s what you see and most cameras will deliver that very well.  We have digitals that are 6 or 7 years old and they are still chugging along and still get used.  One thing to remember, and this is something that seems catch a lot of folk – when you take photos for publications and in today’s world, that will be the web, you need a good quality image, image yes, but it’s going to be small.  Let’s chat about this from a more technical standpoint.

What I do for stuff like this – the original shot will always be shot at the maximum resolution that the camera provides.  If there is a JPEG Fine setting, it’ll get used.  If there is a vivid setting, that’ll be enabled if needed as well. I default my cameras to vivid, BTW :-)   What this does, is guarantee the best quality and best color.  At lets say 10 megapixel, you will likely get an image in the 2 to 3 mb range. For the most part, to have an image load quickly, one needs to get the image size down – in fact, most publications will probably re-size anyway :-)  What I do, once my wife finishes editing, is re-size the image down to 640×480 so they can be emailed.  That shrinks the image down to somewhere close to 100K in size.  Easy to email, easy to push on the web and very high quality.  I use Fastone Resizer for this. 

Other publications or events that I do, though, do require pretty high quality and that’s where my Fuji X10 and bigger gear come in.  To me, getting the correct shot the first time is absolutely critical on these events.  Do I shoot a lot of frames – absolutely.  For the most part – there’s no time to fiddle with settings – you need to nail it right away.  If you need to change settings, you better know what they are.  If you have experience here, getting those settings early is a no brainer.  If you watch how the pros do it, there’s a HUGE lesson to learned there for prepping for a shoot. I watch them to this day, to see if they do anything different. to what I do.  I’m usually the backup so I also chat with them to see where they will be so I don’t get in their way – they get paid, I usually don’t. Those photos also  don’t get emailed – they are pressed to CD/DVD or on a USB drive depending on who is going to receive it. 

Post Processing – Just how much do I do?  As I’ve implied before, as little as I can :-)  This depends, actually, on the shoot.  Most of  the things I do for these types of events does require a bit of cropping as there are a lot of candid shots.  Sometimes a bit of color correction, lightening or darkening.  For formal group type shots, where I have to set up – typically almost nothing aside from maybe a little cropping.  Even with my wife’s work, she’s knowledgeable enough that  I don’t really need to do much with them either.  For me, I have too many other things to do, to spend very much time in post, so I don’t :-)  I try to get that shot right.  From last years fashion shoot to this year – my post time was probably half because I had better gear.  Next year, it’ll half that again as I have even more better gear 🙂

You know, if one set their mind to it, you COULD spend a lot of time in the post processing space.  For most people, they probably won’t as the interest isn’t at that level, but as one gets more serious and you gain knowledge, I feel that post processing may or may not be a necessary evil, but I prefer to minimize it as much as possible.  I might if I had the time, but I have too many other things on the go, so I personally try to get right the first time.  Much easier.

Managing the “Clutter”

The other day, I received a case for my SD cards from Amazon.  Actually, I have another one coming as well :-)  The one big thing that dawned on me, was just how cluttered and spread out my photo gear was getting :-)  I’ve acquired a fair amount of stuff over the last couple of years.  So today, I’m going to manage some of that :-)  I  think…….  Probably closer to cleaning up my office 🙂

And actually, its not just my photo gear that needs a bit of managing, it’s my techy toys too!!!  For starters, I’m an IT consultant and being a bit geeky to boot, it goes without saying that I’m a bit of a gadget junky.  Well, that also carried over to my photo gear as well.  I have multiple laptops that I’ve gotten for various jobs (correct tool for the job at hand…) not to mention numerous accessories to boot (pun intended).  And, in storage – well….I have a LOT of storage devices, between my portable drives plus the SD cards I have for my cameras. 

By a lot of gear, I’m perhaps a little different than most in that for me, a lot of gear also means a lot of cameras.  I haven’t counted, but I think I have a dozen or so cameras.  Yes, there’s a DLSR in there and a couple of Compact System Cameras, but  I also have this “armoury” of travel cameras and pointy shooties as well as a couple of advanced ones.  Do I use them all?  For the most part  – YES. 

The one that gets the least amount of use actually, is the Nikon 1 J1 and then, interestingly enough is my Panasonic GX1.  I think it has to do with where I am currently.  During the day, I have my travel cams and for the other things, I’ve been tending towards my DLSR.  I actually should be using the Compact System Cameras a bit more as they are both very good in their own respects.  Mind you, the GX1 is used for special events more than anything but still, I should be using it more than I am – it is a pretty awesome camera to use. So… how did I get where I am with my clutter?

Well – let’s start with some consulting blab and that will explain the photo stuff :-)  As an IT consultant, Business Analyst, and even perhaps before that – I’ve always been one to try new things.  As we know, technology changes quickly – very quickly and there are constantly new things coming out.  If it pertains to what I do for a living and it can potentially make me more efficient, I’m going to take a hard look at it.  Let’s take mice – I’m constantly trying new ones – I work all day on a computer, and having one that is comfortable is essential.  At work, I have the company issued one and it’s corded, and it got swapped out with a Logitech one – corded, mind you, but that HP one simply didn’t cut it :-)  AND, it was wearing out.  Yes – I’ve worn out rodents.  Several, if you must know.  I recently got a new one from Logitech for my home system. – the Ultra Thin Touch Mouse T630.  It was for my Lenovo U530 (typing this post with it as we “speak”,  I saw it a couple of weeks ago, and it’s “kind of nice” to use.  Definitely tiny compared to a regular mouse, but seems to be fine.  It’s a Bluetooth one and I only have the U530 that supports Bluetooth, so it’s kinda relegated there.  It does support the touch pad gestures, so neat from that standpoint.  Well built?  Yes, very well built. 


Anyway, this is only one area.  How about USB Drives? 


Do I need all of those?  Not really :-)  But I do use them to back up my works stuff quite a bit.  PLUS, sometimes, I offload photos of work events for other folks at work. 

With all these toys, there’s also the matter of USB cables and chargers, etc.

Anyway – back to photo.  With my photo gear, and I’ve given this a fair amount of thought as I’ve progressed along, is the quest for the ultimate bag, of course.  We all know here, that this is a big “it depends” area.  There are so many facets to that one, it’s nuts!!  For me, I have several types of “situations” and I’ve found out that each situation has certain equipment requirements. I’m going to cover off a few of these 🙂 I’ve chatted briefly about bags before – just more thoughts if you didn’t read the last one.

1.  Commuting – When I’m commuting, my mainstream equipment is typically a travel camera or two plus an advanced one.  My travel cams have their own case, and they are put into my daypack somewhere.  Daypacks – here’s another quest :-)  Anyway my most current acquisition here, is a Briggs & Riley Traveller.  This is one of the most expensive I’ve gotten in daypacks, but for commuting, I wanted something that I could carry my stuff in and be relatively slim for those crowded buses and trains. The one thing I liked about this particular one was that it didn’t have that conventional zipper top – the top had sort of  a flap that zippered and made it very accessible compared to any pack I’ve seen.  AND, it’s really well built.  I’ve had this now for about 3 weeks and so far, it’s pretty nice.  My daypacks vary depending on my assignment as well, so yes, I do have a lot of daypacks depending on the capacity I require.  I’ve had the odd assignment, where I’m outside of the downtown core, and it’s hard to find someplace to eat, so bringing a lunch now comes into the equation.

Briggs and RIley

2.  Travel -  or holidays ???  When I did my last couple of vacations, there were a couple of things that I did.  First – my carry on bag was a treefrog daypack to carry my “stuff” – mostly a notebook and my cameras.  Second, for cruising around and sightseeing, I had a Tracker bag.  The Tracker was packed in in my cargo stuff and then loaded up when I got to my destination.  The tracker was pretty awesome the treefrog daypack was just  to small.  It was pretty  jammed up.  For the next trip, well – we’ll see.  It will probably be the Briggs & Riley.  Equipment wise – Fuji X10 plus some pointy shooties. 


3.  Out and About – There are two sides to this one.  Out and About as in chores/tasks and Out and About with photo in mind.  When I was on one assignment, I wanted bag that could carry my iPad plus a couple of small cameras and maybe my ereader for noon hour jaunts.  I tried a couple but in the end, I dropped some big bucks on a Fossil bag.  Since then, it has become one of my favourite bags (man purse, I’ve also heard).  This one is soft sided and has this wonderful “retro” look about it. 


When it comes to Out and About with photo in mind, this now becomes a little more subjective – The bigger quest here was to be able to find something small enough to be convenient but larger enough to carry say, my DLSR and a couple of lenses.  The tougher part was actually me, myself & I :-)  I’m the type of person that naturally likes to pack a fair  amount of gear with me, but in  the end, reality set in and I gambled on a waist sling bag.  Enough to carry my D3200 plus a couple of extra lenses, usually the 40mm f2.8 Micro Nikkor and the 55-200 plus my SB400 flash.  The tougher part was the realization that NO, I probably wouldn’t spare batteries, and NO, I wouldn’t need the SB700, and NO, I would be needing spare chargers or the like.  The bag I have for this, is the LowePro AW250 – I think that’s the model.  It has a waist strap plus a shoulder strap, and a handle on the back.  Surprising capacity for a smaller unit and the person at the camera store mentioned that.  Typical to LowePro, it wasn’t exactly cheap either.

Waist Pak

4.  Event shoots – When I got my first “serious” camera, which was the Panasonic GX1 with two zooms, I of course, started to do a bit more specialized stuff and one of the things that came up was events.  Up to this point, I was using my Fuji X10 and I still do use it, but the GX1 gave me a chance to play with larger sensors and give me an idea of what the more specialized cameras could do or not do.  They definitely aren’t like the travel cams but photo quality (depending on what you are doing….) was stunning.  That’s one of the things that I do notice between the travel cams, etc. and the Compact System Cameras and DLSR’s, is that they have this “extra”, due to the sensor and better lenses, that makes it worth while to me.  Casual is one thing, but this is different :-)  Even my Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX7, with their larger sensors simply makes it worth it.  I was at a blues bar recently with my wife and best friend, and I used the X10 and my XF1 and got shots I simply couldn’t  have gotten with my travel cams.  I did shoot a video, though, with my Nikon S9400 and I was actually shocked at how good it was – might have to investigate that a bit more in the future….

Back on track – the tougher part for me is deciding WHAT to take.  With the Nikon DSLR now in the equation,  I already know it’s going to be my primary.  Last big shoot was a fashion show and I found that I didn’t have the “reach” so I used the GX1  with the larger zoom.  I’ve now got the 55-200, so the decision got blurrier :-)  Anyway, depending on just how much stuff I need to take, I have two bags.  One is the Kata sling and the other is a LowePro Sling.  Both have their place….

BIG Stuff

5.  Other Bags – For my Compact System Cameras, I try to keep both of them in separate bags.  I have a Nikon 1 j1 with two lenses and the Panasonic GX1 with two lenses. Both have spare batteries as well.  For the most part, when I go out with these, I wanted to be able to pack a travel cam or two, but both the Nikon and Panasonic aren’t that big to begin with, so I got a Tracker and a National Geographic Sling for each system. 

Compact System

Swapping Out – Depending on the what I’m planning to shoot, I wanted to be able to take as little gear or as much gear as needed.   I found that the Kata bag and the LowePro Sling can actually pack a lot of gear, but not necessarily all the gear I want to take.  Of course, the bigger question is just how much is enough?  Each time I do a fairly larger event shoot, I’ve always found that having a spare camera or two has come in handy.  I’ve been taking one of the travel cams with me and they’ve proven surprisingly handy.  Quality isn’t as high, but then, more important – I got the shot!!!  This is a bit of a sore point with me :-)  I’m going to chat for sec about getting the shot.

Getting The Shot – I’m, in reality, very picky about the quality of each photo I take.  BUT I’m more picky about “getting the shot”.  I hear and read  so much about the image quality being poor on any given shot and that they “should” have had a better camera with them at the time, but to me, I look past that.  For starters, I am simply not going to lug something like a DSLR with me everywhere I go.  For me, that’s not in the equation.  I’m also pretty sure the majority of picture takers out there are the same.  Heck, they probably only had their phones.  I’ll be the first to admit the the photo quality is no screamin’ hell.  BUT – they got the shot.  It might be the best composed, or best exposure, but you know, to the person taking the photo, it probably didn’t matter – they got the shot that got the moment.  Also, I feel one has to take the equipment into consideration. 

I look at it from the standpoint of what I’m doing with the shot itself.  For me, in casual type situations, something like a pointy shooty is going to be more than enough for the ultimate use of the photo.  Little or no image processing.  View it on the iPad.  The END.  Any camera will get that done, and for what it’s designed to do – do it reasonably well.  To me, those “moments” are typically on an impulse and that means having a camera handy.  That moment isn’t going to wait for you to swap lenses, make adjustments, etc.  You need your camera out and bam – take the shot.  To me that means Auto or Programmed Auto – built in flash, if needed,  will have to do.  Can’t do that easily with a Compact System Camera or a DSLR.  The time simply isn’t there.  When my kids were little – I only had the DSLR.  Guess what?  It never go put away.  It was always there, ready to use.  In today’ world, it seems like we are in too much a hurry to always have your camera out.  To me, a pointy shooty comes out a lot faster :-)  Been there, done that.

Where Do I Get Stuff?  My wife and I like to shop.  I’m one that constantly looks for things I might be able to use.  Granted, I have a bit more income than most, but at the same time, I’m also not scared to try things out either.  Anyway you cut it, I end up with a lot of stuff, to say the least :-)  So where do I shop?  That’s a BIG “it depends”.  For cameras, I’m one that  likes to “touch and feel” before I buy one.  That basically means online is out for me.  Price?  Only to a certain degree.  If I want a camera for a specific thing right away, the price didn’t matter.  If I was contemplating something specific, I’ll wait for sale.  For my travel cams, my Canon SX270 and Nikon S9400 were on sale.  Same with the Sony HX30 – I probably wouldn’t have got them otherwise.  The other ones – Fuji F800 and Panasonic ZS25 – no, I paid full price.  The Fuji XF1 – paid the going price.  For the Nikon 1 J1 – dealer made me a deal couldn’t turn down and it gave me a good chance to play in this space.  The Panasonic GX1 – paid the price but got the bigger zoom on sale.  My D3200 – happened to be on sale, and most of the extra lenses too. 

For bags – I want to see what I’m buying.  I prefer not to buy one online, though, there’s a Caden one I’m looking at.  Bags are a bit funny to me – I really really have to see one.  Sales are nice, but if you need one you need one. 

Other things – I do get a lot of other things for photo online.  My SD card cases that I just got came from Amazon.  I get a lot of things from Amazon, but not necessarily for photo.   

Keeping It All In Order – What I try to do, is keep stuff separated as much as possible.  Doesn’t always work, but nonetheless, I try to keep my equipment as separated as possible.  Mostly ones like the Fuji X10 and the Compact System Cameras – chargers, etc – all in one bag.  Same with my DSLR gear, though I do separate things out depending on shoots.  Not always the easiest to manage, but it’s getting there.


Time vs Technology vs Photos

As life has progress for me, I’ve noticed that time “seems” to be more at a premium than normal Smile  I simply don’t have the time I need to do the things I’m doing.  It’s not that I don’t use my time effectively, I do, but for some reason, there just never seems to be enough of it.

When I take a harder look at things, I look at what I do for a living that might be different than others.  I’m an IT consultant, I have a bit of real estate, I have grandkids.  AND I have the “toys” Smile  Yes, I own my own house (or the bank does at least), and it seems like there’s this never ending list of “house things, reno things that just goes on and on.  And then, of course there’s the technology side of this.

You know – I love what  technology has done for our lives.  It allows us to communicate better, it gets things done faster, you can do more things.  Maybe that’s it!  Because technology has allowed us to get stuff done faster, I think we tend to do more things and hence tend to be “busier”. And when you dig “under the hood” a bit that technology comes with it’s price – because of the technology, it does take time to maintain it too. When I look at my recent jump into photography and where I’m heading, here’s what I’ve discovered:

1.  When you start to get a little more serious about photos, one tends to take more photos.  That’s a given.  With the digital age upon us and ability to process those images, we tend to spend more time with our images.  I find that I’m spending more and more time working with my images than the 35mm days.  Back then, you took your shots, got them processed at the lab – you may or may not do some of your own stuff in your own lab, but in the end, it was sort of the end of it.  On to taking more pics.  Or whatever – on with life perhaps Smile

2.  There’s lots of information out there to absorb.  One thing that jumped out at me right away with digital – compared to 35mm, there are a lot more feature sets in the new stuff/equipment.  If you are new to photography, one may just start shooting (and there’s a lot of merit to that).  It you are more advanced, you are going to study every nook and cranny on the gear to get the most of out it.  Another given.  Cost – time.  In 35mm, one had to be pretty serious to either go into a rental lab or their own lab to process their own stuff.  It was one thing to have the camera gear to take the pics, a whole new level to do your own.  Very dedicated at this point.  Today’s technology allows one to do things that were unheard of in my days of 35mm – right in your home on your computer.  I sometimes wonder just how many people print nowdays – I’m thinking there’s still a lot of people out there.  I know that for us, we only print what we need for various projects.  My wife is a scrapbooker, so yes we do a fair amount of printing.  BUT it’s at home too, not a commercial lab. 

3.  From the equipment standpoint – they’re getting the demographics  pretty specific.  Even in he area of the compact system cameras, which is kind of a neat area – they have it carved up too.  I have a Nikon J1 with two lenses – designed for what I would call the quasi serious amateur – wants interchangeable lenses, a bit of control, but mostly will be in auto mode – for someone who wants the manual zoom.  Let’s also not forget that these things can also do movies pretty well Smile  AND there’s a whole new space for the person like me, who wants manual over auto, close to DSLR quality but not the size.  Simply amazing.  Even in the budget stuff – there’s a lot of functionality there.  Or another area – the holiday or traveler person that wants just that “extra”.  My Fuji F800 is almost like my X10 in what it can do in it’s manual mode – but small enough to fit in a pocket and can do 20x zoom with good quality – to something more automatic but still the functionality like the Panasonic ZS25.  It’s even smaller!!  Each has some feature sets that are unique enough that I feel that that people looking here, SHOULD have a pretty good understanding of what they want.  They all work surprisingly well.  For me, I don’t think I could take just one travel cam – On a vacation, we’ll say – I would take either the X10 or the LX7 and one other.  My J1 or GX1?  Not so much – not saying I wouldn’t, just that from my past experience, the bulk difference wouldn’t be worth it unless there was something that I knew I couldn’t do with the others.

4.  If you weren’t brand conscious, and just getting a new camera – buying purely on price wouldn’t be necessarily be a bad thing.  It’s getting pretty hard to buy a bad one these day.  It’s highly likely that even a new person getting a new camera would know Canon/Nikon/Pentax/Olympus as a minimum.  Maybe even Fuji or Panasonic which I’m partial to. 

5.  Accessories aren’t the easiest to find.  Sort of…This is dependent on the camera you get, but many cameras nowadays don’t even come with a case.  OR in some cases, you don’t even get a charger – just the USB cable so you can charge on your computer.  When I look back in time though, this really wasn’t any different from today.  AND today, it’s easier AND harder at the same time.  If you are not in a hurry, we have online shopping.  Didn’t really have that back then.  If you are a “touch, feel, buy” person, and I tend to be for a lot of things, it can be at times pretty touch to find something.

6. Certain things seem more expensive than before.  In fact I was pretty shocked at flashes and tripods Surprised smile  Since when did base flash units start at $200 and go up in a brand name??  Or tripods!!  Holy Smokes!!!  Maybe it’s the electronics to the new cameras… I dunno….  I do expect to pay a bit more for leading edge, but in these areas, I’m planning to wait for a bit anyway.  A lot will depend on what I’m going to be doing that requires something beyond the built in flash. 

7. You can spend almost too much time doing image processing.  This I caught as soon as I started to get a little more involved with the software side of things.  I’m trying to do as little post work as possible but it still sucks up time like crazy. 

8.  Maintenance takes up time.  I don’t know about the rest, but one of the things I try to do, is not offload my images after every shoot.  I try to do that, actually as little as possible unless there is something that does require that.  Event shoots which I can see coming up – they will have to be processed right away.  Other things, though, I can wait. 

In the end, when I look at things away from photography but still in tech stuff – there are always backups, upgrades and on and on.  I sometimes wonder that despite the fact that technology does some wonderful things, we don’t win on the time side Smile