Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shooting hoops with the kids

My oldest son loves to play basketball.  Warm afternoons will often find him out on the driveway with the neighbors and a ball.  He just finished his sixth season of YMCA youth basketball with a second place tournament finish.  These games always pit the photographer against the father, as it's very difficult to follow the game while looking through the viewfinder.  Hence, I only shoot a few games each year for posterity, and simply enjoy the others along with the rest of the parents.  I therefore don't get a whole lot of practice photographing these games.  I did, however, shoot their final tournament weekend (three games).  I got stopped by several parents asking how to make their own shots better, so I wanted to share what I've learned.  It's no coincidence that March Madness is in full swing as I write this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I've wanted a LumiQuest SBIII soft box for a while now.  The SBIII is a great size for close-in work.  It's about as large as you can get and still use it with the speedlight flash mounted on your camera's hot shoe.  It's big enough to soften the light for tight portraits or product shots.  It collapses down small enough to fit into large camera bags or laptop bags.  It also only costs about $40 online.  Alas, it costs considerably more at our only local camera shop.  When I found myself needing a softbox just like that on short notice, I decided to make my own for a few pennies.  Here's how I did it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why format your camera's memory card?

One topic that I've seen come up periodically is how to clear out all the photos from your camera's memory card.  Some say that it's better to simply erase the photos, while others say it's better to completely reformat the card.  I'm a firm believer that unnecessarily reformatting a flash card is a bad idea.  Here's why...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Installing a split image focusing screen

If you play much with manual focus lenses -- or even if you like to manually focus your AF lenses (for macro photography, for instance), you'll realize that the factory focusing screen in new DSLR's really wasn't designed to make this easy.  They're small, dim, and have no focusing aids.  By contrast, older, mechanical cameras have glorious picture window viewfinders, usually with a split image focusing circle surrounded by a microprism ring to help you know when your subject is in focus.  I've installed aftermarket focusing screens in all three of my Canon DSLR bodies, and I've illustrated below how to do so in an 50D.