Nikon has a new flash

November 30, 2011 — Leave a comment

The rumored new flash from Nikon, the SB-910, has been announced and Nikon is now taking preorders for its new flagship flash.  We have been hearing about the possibility of this flash for some time from sites like nikonrumors.com.  As you can see from the images, it still has the same basic form factor as the SB-900.  I see this as a positive as I liked the larger size of the SB-900, and I especially liked the dedicated master control switch.  If it looks like the now “old” flash, does it work like it as well?  Let’s dive in.

As Joe McNally says in his review, this new flash is really more of a “collection of tweaks” to the SB-900, manifested into a new product called the SB-910.  The speculation on this flash seemed to be pretty interesting, including the possibility of an LED video flash built in.  As is often the case, not everything that was speculated made it into the final product, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious upgrade.  All we have to go off of at this point are the specifications and marketing from Nikon, and some guy name Joe McNally.  As I alluded to above, Joe has had a quick hands on with the new flash and has provided feedback where he heralds one of the biggest improvements as being better heat management than the SB-900.

With the SB-910 we will still have the dedicated button to control the different modes such as remote, master, and standard.  We still have the same zoom and flash pattern capabilities, and even the size of the flash is still pretty much the same.  In fact, using Nikon’s own comparison tool the specs between the SB-900 and the new SB-910 are literally almost a mirror image of themselves with the exception of the ready light being on just the front for the SB-910, and the size and weight differences which are so similar you wonder why it was worth changing it at all.  The specifications being so close to the previous version and all, we must turn to the Nikon marketing to see why they think we should “upgrade” to the newer, more expensive flash.

Here again we find the marketing page for the SB-910 may be a bit “snazzier” than the SB-900 marketing page, but it starts out basically saying the same things as it’s predecessors page.  However if you keep reading further down the page, you finally come to where it shows the main difference, and what may make the SB-910 a better flash if it works properly, is a better heat management system.  Sure there are a few other menu enhancements, and maybe a couple more accessories included (not sure about this yet), but the heat management of the SB-900 is a flat out pain.  In just the few weddings and portraits I have done, I have come to expect the SB-900 to perform wonderfully, right up until it overheats and starts yelling at me.  So, if the all the SB-900 brings, is a proper heat management setup, I will be very happy because to be honest outside of the heat issues the SB-900 is one heck of a flash.

Obviously, reading Joe’s blog post about the new SB-910 instills a lot of hope that the heat issues we have had in the past are just that; a thing of the past.  You would think if all this is true, and we finally have an SB-900(910) strobe that no longer suffers from the same heat troubles, I would smile and rush to pre-order one right away.  But the truth of it is, I am kinda… “Miffed” at Nikon for releasing what is essentially an SB-900 that works properly when pushed a little, and calling it a new product.  I am more than “miffed” that Nikon is asking a $50.00 premium on what I see is a corrected problem, and not a new product.  In the end I will buy one, or probably more actually.  While I am happy the capabilities of the SB-910 are here, I can’t help but feel a little taken advantage of over this one.

 

Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk 2011

As I have said many times, one of my biggest desires for this site was for it to be a place where an amazing community is built.  Community is so important when learning anything, but I think, especially photography.  If you have never heard of Scott Kelby, let me introduce you to him.  He is so involved in the photography community I could go on for pages of all he does.  Not to sell Scott’s accomplishments short, but for brevity’s sake I will just describe him as a heavy hitter in the adobe Photoshop community as well as a professional photographer.  As you can see in the title of this article he is also host to a wonderful community event called “Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk.”

Community obviously can exist outside of the confines of this site, and one way to get out there and meet your local photography community in a low pressure no cost way is by attending something akin to  a meetup.  And one of the biggest is Scott Kelby’s call to photographic arms with his worldwide photo walk.  Scott and his technical team provide a central site for people to register for a photography walk or even register to lead a walk in an area of their choosing.  Scott also produces his own video updates and provides ideas to help promote the photowalks.  You can visit the site and join gratis, that’s right F-R-E-E, by visiting the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk website where you can find the nearest walk to you.  I have already joined for the photowalk scheduled in Deland, Florida so if you are in the area join up and say hi.

My first ever Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk was last year, and it was just outstanding.  I live in Central Florida just north of Orlando, and so I attended the photo walk taking place in the little town of Sanford, FL.  I admit to being a bit nervous in the beginning because I knew only my friend who was part of the photo walk as well.  But as soon as our photowalk leader began to speak to our ragtag group of photographers, I began to get excited about how cool the setting was.  I mean, here we were, maybe 30 or so people walking around with cameras snapping photographs of just about every inch of downtown Sanford.  You can take a look at some of the pictures from the 2010 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk I attended by visiting to the flickr page showcasing the work of myself and many of the other photowalkers.

If you are sitting there thinking, or sure, easy for you to say Mr. nice Nikon DSLR camera, but all I have is my little point and shoot, and I am not about to go walking around a bunch of other photographers with THAT!   To that I say, hogwash!  I saw many people during my photowalk last year using those very same point and shoots.  The “point” isn’t to walk around looking like a photographer, the point is to get out, get going, get shooting, and maybe meet a few other people doing the same thing and actually make photographs.  The photowalk is scheduled for October 1st and 2nd 2011, so you have plenty of time to get familiar with whatever camera you have or go pick one up before then. And HazardManual is here to help.

Whatever you do, don’t give up.  This is truly a wonderful hobby that is absolutely worth any time invested in getting better.  Sometimes you need some urging to get going and sometimes you need a boost to rekindle your interest in something, and this photowalk is a wonderful way to accomplish either of those goals.  May I suggest that you subscribe to  our site to stay informed on updates on learning how to take more control of your camera.  I would also recommend visiting our “Getting Started” page often as it will be updated regularly with information to help you along the way.

 

One of the easiest ways to get into photography is very possibly as easy as grabbing your current point and shoot camera.  I know, I know, you may think I am crazy and maybe I am.  But in this case, just trust me.  Just because it isn’t one of those big fancy cameras the pro’s use, doesn’t mean you can’t take stunning, fantastic pictures in challenging lighting situations.  I say very possibly because not all point and shoots have manual mode capabilities, but many of them are providing this level of control to their owners.

Why the point and shoot you may ask?  A photographers life is a hunt for moments of interest, which means a nice little point and shoot that fits in your pocket can come in very handy.  Another reason is cost.  While point and shoots can be a bit pricey, they cost very little when compared to most entry-level Digital SLR Cameras and in many situations can create just as amazing pictures.  Try perusing the point and shoot flickr group for some examples.

Canon S95

Canon Powershot A590 IS

I will warning you though; photography is an addictive habit for which there is no known cure.  Once you get the bug, you will slowly start to accumulate camera gear.  I strongly suggest you do your own searching on sites like Amazon or Adorama for top ranked point and shoot cameras that have manual control capabilities.  I use the Canon Powershot A590 IS as my point and shoot.  I read reviews around the web and have found it to be an excellent point and shoot with manual control capabilities.  Look for a review of the Canon Powershot A590 IS in the near future, but you can check it out yourself on Amazon.com.  Based on the reviews, another really hot point and shoot with manual capabilities is the Canon S95 which you can get via Adorama.

Either way you slice it, if you follow the tutorials in the upcoming posts you can make great strides in learning about the art of photography.  A word of warning however.  If you start on this journey the next thing you know a cheap point and shoot will have companions like a nice tripod, and then maybe another nicer point and shoot with more features.  Next thing you know, you will be moving on to that nice entry-level Digital SLR camera that you never thought you would be able to use.

I know this, because that is the path I followed, and now I have several professional level Digital SLR cameras, awesome lenses, and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, the point and shoot as I said above, has way more power than you have probably ever used them for, but at a certain point you may want to upgrade to something that can handle even more diverse lighting situations.  Never fear, www.hazardmanual.com will be here to guide you through the photography addict..er…  hobby regardless of what camera you are using.

Manual Camera Modes

September 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

Grab the "M" and Hazard Manual!

If you are here, I have to assume you at least have heard that it is possible to take more control of your pictures.  Unless you haven’t heard that, in which case… Hey, great news!  You can take more control of your pictures.  There I have said it, but what does it really mean.  Does it apply to someone who isn’t trying to become a photographer, but just wants to be able to take better pictures at their kid’s school functions.  The answer is an emphatic, YES!

One of the things I hear from people is how they just “make do” with their little point and shoot and hope for a good shot.  Really what they are saying is a silent prayer to Nikon or Canon or any other brand camera they may have, to let the computers just magically create a wonderful image.  And when the image doesn’t come out so great, they blame the camera.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that, as is so often the case, we believe the technology is smarter than we are.  Let me tell you, if you leave your little point and shoot or entry-level DSLR in “auto” mode, sit in the middle or back of a darkened auditorium during your kid’s school play, that camera you have so much faith in will not always look so smart.

Sensing the darkened environment the camera will rely on the flash going off to light the scene.  But because you are sitting so far back, that little built-in flash doesn’t really reach up to the stage.  The camera computer expects the light to be there and compensates for it.  You end up with a very dark picture of your kids on stage and a great picture of the backs of the people’s heads sitting in the first few rows in front of you.

Now you may be asking, ok wise-guy, how do I get the shot with my little point and shoot camera. Ok, well it isn’t hard but you have to be willing to commit to it. You can start by subscribing to one or all notification options for the blog and become part of the community.  And then I would head over to the “Getting Started” page to find posts that will help you learn more about your camera’s manual modes.

I can’t tell you how happy I am you are here, and that you are showing an interest in making your photography better.  Regardless if you are creating art, or just wanting to get a nice picture of your family, you are a taking steps to better your pictures and that is great news.

This is always the toughest part about an interview. And I do look at this post as my interview, as it really is me being interviewed for a job by you. This job I speak of is to provide you, the reader with high quality content on a regular basis to help you learn about photography.  More specifically, how to learn about learning photography.

Let me start this interview properly and tell you that I am not a professional photographer or writer, and I have never played one on T.V. So how am I qualified for the job you may ask?  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can create content, facilitate and help support a community, I can even get people excited about what we are learning. But can I, a person who just admitted that I am not a professional blogger or photographer, provide information about learning photography?  Of course I can! I have taught myself, taught my friends, taught my family, and have the passion to continue to teach you my autodidact ways!

As I said, I am not a profession photographer, nor am I professional instructor. My actual paid profession is that of a software developer, a code poet, a bit wrangler of the highest degree if you will. My hobbies include several things, and photography is pretty much at the top. I am the best person for this job because as a software developer and a self proclaimed autodidact, it means that I am constantly researching new technologies and best practices to make my daily job easier. I visit countless blogs, read libraries full of books, and watch many videos during this research as much of what I am looking for can often only be found or best be explained via a these types of crowdsourced mediums. Primarily, I visit a ton of blogs, therefore I use a ton of blogs, ergo I have a pretty solid idea as to what it takes to create a real content rich blog-space that is both easy to navigate and fun to be a part of. I know that when you get down to brass tacks, a quality blog has a foundation built with a concrete mixture of unique content and community trust. And that is why I believe I am the best candidate for this job.

I also can appreciate that lists are wonderful ways of expediting information. Oh look, here is a list of information about me and some of my high-level plans for www.hazardmanual.com.

  1. I enjoy writing, and while I may still be a little raw, I believe I have an aptitude for skill and an appreciation for the art.
  2. I love learning, specifically through very hands on self reliance methods. I am adept at researching problems, and finding solutions. I am truly a product from the school of autodidact.
  3. I love photography, and all the minutia that goes in to making pictures. From big fancy pro cameras, to pinhole cameras, all the way through to the physics of the photon, I am in love with the entirety of photography.
  4. One of my favorite ways of learning is by teaching. I truly have a passion for teaching and seeing people make new discoveries in areas they didn’t think they could excel.
  5. I am an entrepreneur through and through, and I would absolutely love to be able to combine all of my interests and not just do them as a hobby, but as a career.

Something else about me.  I love the idea of crowdsourced ideas and comments.  I am hoping to not only impart knowledge I have gleaned on my own to the community here, but to also learn new and awesome things from the community I hope to help foster.  I am a huge advocate for decency in conversation and criticism, and will enforce this with whatever tools I need to use.  I am hoping that in the near future we have a community that is so diverse in every category you can think of because I see it only making everyone better.  Thanks for stopping by www.hazardmanual.com and reading what I have to say.  I hope you stick around become part of our community, and give me a chance to win you over.

Welcome to the maiden voyage of the blogship www.hazardmanual.com.

This is an endeavor I have been wanting to do for some time in an effort to bridge the gap between full fledged hard core photography lessons and the tired mantra of “Just go out and shoot.”  While I don’t necessarily disagree with either of these completely, I believe there is a void between the two “methods” that keeps people like you and me from fanning an ember of interest in photography into a blaze of artistic passion that will last a lifetime and beyond.  That last sentence may seem a bit much, but once you sink your teeth into this form of art, you will see what I mean.  Let’s get real here.

Most of us don’t have the time or maybe even the desire to take full fledged photography courses.  So maybe you have moseyed around the web, as you are now looking through some of the well known photography sites, in the search of information on how you can become more comfortable with your camera only to find posts that offer vague advice, or details that are already over your head, or my personal favorite the comment that simply says, just go out and shoot.

Alright, lets get to it then.  I don’t mean to denigrate the educational methods above. I have used all of these forms of learning at one point or another, even the “just get out and shoot” has been a days mission for me before.  What we need is a gap stop.  This is where www.hazardmanual.com comes in to play.  I have always been an out of the box thinker, and I learn best by using educational processes that are also often considered, outside the box.  This site is a means to an end, this site is outside the box, this site is that gap stop.  I will do my best to provide top notch content to help you and me further our skills.  Along with top notch content, I am hoping you will join me to build a community that is VERY supportive and involved in helping each other learn.

One of the biggest reasons I, and many of my friends, never moved forward with our desire to get into photography was because of a fear of moving away from the automatic modes of our cameras.  In the days where wasting each shot meant a rising cost in the need to purchase more and more film, an ounce of trepidation could be understood.  But today we can use digital film which, aside from the initial cost, is free.  This is the most liberating thing about digital cameras.  You can shoot, review, and delete with almost no penalty.  Regardless if you are starting with a small point and shoot, or a fancy DSLR, www.hazardmanual.com is to be a resource for learning about having no fear of your cameras advanced controls and taking control of your art instead of letting the camera’s computer make the art for you

So grab on tight, buckle your seatbelts, and all that good health and safety kinda stuff, grab your camera, and let’s throw caution to the wind and hazard manual.

Crowdsourced Education

September 3, 2011 — 1 Comment

Crowdsourcing can be used to determine and present solutions to all manner of challenges.  I know from the time I spend in the trenches every day working in the information technology industry, that crowdsourcing is often a tool used to come up with new ideas and solutions to the challenges of a constantly changing market.  Crowdsourcing can also be used in a communal setting, where everyone is available to give and accept criticism and suggestion for the betterment of the community.

crowd·source (verb, kroud-sawrs): to utilize (labor, information, etc.) contributed by the general public to (a project), often via the Internet and without compensation

In the most basic explanation I this blog is going to be about learning to learn.  And this education will largely start with the content I create, and then hopefully be expanded upon by the ideas and considerate critiques and suggestions of the community.   Obviously, commenting on the posts I create is one of the welcome methods of learning.  Here is see a way for you, the community, to question and challenge what I have written of which I can and will respond.  But more than that I encourage members to respond to other members to help them out with details they may need clarification on.  Through the community comments I hope to learn more myself and hear ideas and methods of learning that I have not thought of.

Another method of crowdsourcing I plan for the site is to give you, the community some say as to what topics are published next.  I haven’t completely decided on how I will present this choice to you all, but I certainly believe that the content published on the site should be relevant to its readers.  And while I hope to attract like-minded individuals who have the same interests and desires to learn more about photography, I also know that a direction I choose to take may not be a direction the community would like to move in next.  The result is a site that is created for the community and in some ways by the community.

Once the site is established and a solid community exists, I may seek out some of you who I find to be respectful and knowledgeable to provide content that will be written from a fresh perspective.  I may also open up content to creation to some of you who request to create it.  The point is again, I am certainly no professional in either the field of photography nor in the writers realm.  Saying this, I know that in order for this site to grow and truly become a wonderful resource for everyone, the community must be involved in a crowdsourced built environment.

Lastly, when the community has grown large enough to support it, I will move forward with plans to create a forum that will give us even greater capabilities to communicate with each other and better organize and catalog our community created content in the form of forum discussions.  I have to admit I am very excited about the prospect of having a large enough community to warrant a managed forum.  To me this stage is an advanced stage of a blog where the community has taken some level of ownership for the goings on of the site. In the end it just makes it more fun, which means you are more likely to stick with it the community.  Especially, when you are part of the crowd learning and helping each other in a friendly and considerate manner.

Prepare to Hazard Manual

September 2, 2011 — Leave a comment

Don't leave now, the fun is just starting.Hi, you have just reached www.hazardmanual.com!

Wait, stop don’t leave!  I know you aren’t seeing any content yet, but I ask for your patience and to give me a few days.  The blog will be launching soon, and if you have even the slightest interest in learning photography, or even increasing your current photographic skills, you should stick around and see what this site is all about.

As you can see content is not yet posted, and little tweaks to the site here and there still being done.  But I am almost ready to bring this blog to life.  Please check back very soon.  Better yet go ahead and follow us on Twitter and “like” the sites Facebook page so you can stay up to date with all the happenings on the site.

Still not convinced?

Well, please visit some of the other pages on the site that DO have some content and check back with us soon.

Information About The Site and Site Policies:

  1. About Hazard Manual
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I would like to mention I have made it super easy to get totally hooked in with site by including a dedicated subscribe page.  Check it out and welcome aboard, and look for updated information in the following days.