I love getting new toys! Canon G1X has arrived!

Back in January, Canon announced a new addition to the G-line of Powershot cameras.  Dubbed the “G1X”, it created a lot of excitement amongst photographers for a number of reasons – the HUGE sensor (nearly as big as the APS-C sensor in the 7D, and a little bigger than the four-thirds sensors so popular right now), flash hotshoe, full manual controls, ability to shoot RAW, great noise reduction at high ISO, image stabilization, and more.  I’ve been shopping for a camera to supplement my D-SLR (Canon 7D with battery grip).. something that would be a little easier to carry around, but still take great photos.  A while back, I got the Panasonic Lumix FZ-150.  It was good because it had a huge zoom range on it, but a smaller sensor didn’t provide the image quality I wanted.  It was also a little big for sticking in a jacket pocket.

Here’s how the G1X sensor stacks up against the others..


I had pre-ordered the camera from Adorama.com back in January, but it was nearly impossible to get updates on arrival dates from them, and I was seeing other retailers get the camera in stock – so I started searching Twitter, and found a small camera shop (http://mikecrivellos.com/) in Wisconsin who knew they had ONE camera arriving.  I reached out to Mike Wilbur at the shop and placed my order for the one camera they were getting.  Customer Service was great, and I was really impressed with their response through email and Twitter.  The camera shipped to me early this week, and arrived today.

I quickly unboxed it, and one of the main things I was curious about was the flash sync speed. I took some photos as I unboxed it, and quickly put my Yongnuo RF-602 wireless flash trigger on the camera, and hooked up a Lumopro LP160 flash to test it out. VERY happy that it worked up to 1/800 !! My Canon 7D only syncs up to 1/250 .. this is really impressive. I am anxious to get out and take some photos with this camera – it’s got a great feel and weight to it and seems like another great Canon product. Thanks again to Mike at http://mikecrivellos.com/ for the great service and getting this camera to me so quickly!


Adios, 2011…. Come on, 2012!

2011 was a lot of fun…. I shot a number of race track events (drag strip and road course), portraits, an engagement shoot and wedding, several architectural jobs, family events, collaborative shoots with other photographers, a non-profit organization to help families with special-needs children (THE most rewarding shoot I did all year!), and more.  I spent some great quality time shooting with photographers who helped me see things differently and how to try new techniques.. I also took the chance to shoot for another photographer, who was able to give me some great feedback on my shots in order to help me get even better (Dito, owner of http://www.gotbluemilk.com).

Facebook has been a great way to show off my work and get in touch with other photographers and groups with similar interests.  I’ve found inspiration and motivation by looking through the work of other photographers, which has helped really push me to a new level with my techniques.  I’m very thankful for the talented people whom I’ve had the chance to work with this year, whether it was just ‘playing around’ in a studio (Tim), or a location shoot with multiple models and other photographers (Byron, Greg, Coree, Katie, Lisa, Linda, Donna, Monica, Tom).  There are still other photographers I have yet to work with (or even meet), whose work inspires me.. I hope to get to meet some of them next year – Jim Perdue, I’m talking to you.

One photographer in particular who has really inspired me, and not even as a result of their photography, is Jen Burgess-Thompson.  I followed her work on Facebook, along with a ton of other photographers whose work inspired me.  On August 30 of this year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She bravely shared updates on her diagnosis, emotions, fears and frustrations with all her readers.  She created a blog, where she (and her friends) could update everyone on her treatments.  Jen saw an outpouring of messages, love, well-wishes and prayers from thousands of followers, including many people she had never met.  Jen is still undergoing chemo treatment, but her CA125 levels are now within “normal” ranges.  Jen’s strength through this challenge is inspiring, she’s not looking for pity or handouts.. more than anything, she wants people to see that she is not the “typical” cancer patient… she’s young, takes care of herself, has no family history, and there’s nothing that stands out in her history that would have been an indicator that she may end up getting cancer some day… and by her not fitting the typical profile of a cancer patient, it should increase everyone’s awareness.. and hopefully plant the seed in other people’s minds that they should get checked too.  Jen – I don’t know you beyond Facebook.. but you are inspiring.

Finally.. I have to give credit where credit is due – my amazing (and beautiful) wife, Emily.  She’s been supportive and encouraging of my photography for years, and this past year was no exception.  I sincerely appreciate your support and understanding of the long days.  Also, to my great friends and family who constantly inspire me (Reese, that’s you, buddy) and encourage me to ‘do more’… thank you.

So, as we wrap up 2011, I’m excited about what 2012 has in store… new photos, new friends, new opportunities and new challenges.. and with any luck, more new equipment!

The Power of the Print

As a photographer, I find myself taking anywhere between 500-1500 photos at a given event, depending on how long I’m there, and what’s going on.  I usually have no reason to get prints of my work, because they would just sit around in an envelope or a box somewhere.  I prefer to show my digital images on line (Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug, etc)..

However, prior to a recent shoot where I tagged along with some great muscle cars, I printed up a bunch of 8×10 prints and put them in an easy-to-carry portfolio.  When I committed to the shoot, I had one client who had committed to pay me for shots of his car.  When I arrived and met the other car owners, I introduced myself as a photographer.. I didn’t get an overwhelming response.. however, when I showed them my portfolio of 8×10 prints of other cars (primarily shots from a car show I had recently attended and from Sacramento Raceway), they were VERY interested.  I ended up getting 3 additional clients that day.

This past weekend, I went back to Sacramento Raceway to shoot the ‘NorCal Invasion‘.  Prior to getting all my gear set up, I walked around the pit area with my portfolio and a bunch of business cards.  I recognized one car from a shoot I did at Infineon Raceway last year and approached the owner.  I didn’t have a print of his car, but I did have my iPhone, and quick access to one of my online galleries.  I showed him my print portfolio that I was carrying around, and while he was looking at that, I pulled up an image of his car from Infineon on my phone and showed it to him.  He nearly fell over – he must have commented 3 or 4 times about how much he loved that shot of his car, and would want to order it.  By showing him what my final print products looked like, and an iPhone-sized image of his car – he could tell that a print of his car would look great.  That night at the racetrack, I made sure I got plenty of pictures of his car to add to my gallery for him… after speaking with him tonight, he’s very excited to order a bunch of prints in various sizes.

It just goes to show – that while our lives are becoming more and more digital every day (and I LOVE it!), there is still something VERY compelling about the power of a printed image that has much more impact than a picture on a computer screen.

This is the image of the guys’ car from Infineon that he loved so much.  It was one of my favorite photos from that weekend as well.. I was really happy to be able to find the owner of the car so I could show him the image I created… and then to see his reaction – priceless.  This is what being a photographer is all about!

NorCal Invasion at Sacramento Raceway

This past weekend, I went to Sacramento Raceway for some drag race photography.  We were all hoping for a HUGE turnout, but the crazy heat (and I think the high entry fees) kept a lot of racers away.  There was still a decent turnout, and some great race cars to photograph.  I got my usual spot right at the starting line where all the action (burnouts!) happen.. it was a hot day, and by the time I left, I smelled like race fuel, high-octane exhaust, and burnt rubber.  It was great!

Take Better Photos

A friend of mine recently asked me about how to go from using Auto Focus to Manual Focus on their Canon, in order to take better photos.  Honestly.. I hardly ever shoot in Manual Focus.  The camera can focus much faster and more accurately than my hands and old eyes can do.  However, if you want to take better photos… more than just “snapshot” photos – I think it’s critical to understand the key relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  It has to be such an ingrained part of what they do, that they don’t even think about it as they’re shooting.  This allows the photographer to focus more on where the light is coming from, how it will impact the image, how they’re composing the shot, what might be in the background, etc.

There are a number of things available on these cameras that are important to understand – light metering modes, focus modes, color/temperature settings, image quality/RAW settings, etc… I strongly suggest that anyone who may be looking to improve their photos beyond just ‘snapshot’ photos look into workshops, classes, groups, etc that are targeted towards “beginners”.. and if you’ve got a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, find a class for beginner DSLR users.. Just because you have a camera that cost $1000.00 or more, doesn’t mean you’re a photographer, and doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to go right out and take amazing images.

I love the fact that I’m still learning how to use my camera, play with lighting techniques, metering functions, etc… there’s definitely a progressive learning curve with these cameras we have.. but I think the key part is learning about the relationship between Aperture (f-stop), Shutter speed, and ISO.