Does Equipment Matter?

Yes, of course it does……

That’s that then. Well, no, not really. Let’s first talk about Motorsport, if you watch F1 and get excited about the thrill of the drivers balancing the physics of a finely tuned piece of engineering, does that mean that you can’t enjoy a Sunday drive through the countryside in a Ford Fiesta? Of course you can. For me it’s the same with photography.

I’m not going to pretend that shooting with Nikon’s fantastic D850 DSLR paired with a Nikon 500mm f/4 doesn’t make life much easier for me as a photographer, of course it does, but that doesn’t mean that you need this level of equipment to capture stunning photos. Anyone who has attended one of my Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshop will remember that I talk a lot about that although professional equipment offers superior quality, it doesn’t mean that you cannot shoot stunning photographs with level-entry equipment, far from it. I quite often get told “It’s easy for you with your camera”, yes, it’s easier, but doesn’t mean that photography is impossible without expensive equipment.

This morning, it got me thinking about this so I grabbed a Nikon D3100 that I use as a loan camera on my workshops and attached my Nikon 80-400mm lens to it. Yes, ok, some of you are going to spot that this is a professional grade lens, I don’t own a “long” telephoto lens that isn’t. However, it’ll still be possible to get great photos with a much cheaper lens attached.

The Nikon D3100 is a level-entry camera with just 14.2 megapixels and was released back in 2010. Ten years in the world of photography is a long-time!

It didn’t take long until a pair of juvenile Eurasian Nuthatches we have in the garden showed up on an old dead Oak Tree. So here you go, I think you’ll agree that these are quite nice shots of them.

If you work with good light, shoot at the correct angles and of course dial in the correct camera settings then great photography is available.

Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my “Open” Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshops are suspended, however, private sessions are available. These workshops are a great way to learn to take control of your camera.

If you feel like really getting your teeth into photography, a great way to go from beginner to great photographer is to book some Personal 3 Hour Photography Workshop Sessions. These sessions can take you right from the start through to post-processing in Adobe Lightroom at a pace that suits you and as many or little sessions as you wish, these can be done in the comfort of your own home!

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Who Remembers The 110 Compact Film Cameras?

Today (or actually yesterday because I’ve noticed it’s actually now after midnight) I gave my first Photography lesson at the fantastic new Algarve International School near Vale do Lobo. They have a great concept of teaching in which the students are given the opportunity to learn creative subjects. I am honoured to be part of this new exciting school and will be teaching one afternoon a week.

As part of the introduction to cameras I shared my memories of the first photos I took that had a purpose other than holidays snaps. It was 1990 and I was in exam year of my GCSEs. I chose to write my Geography Coursework on River Errosion. I required photographs of bends in the local Rhymney River to include in my project. Remember this was 1990, no digital cameras and not even a PC to type it on. My school had one PC and even the IT Teacher didn’t know how to use it. He didn’t know how to turn off Jingle Bells playing everytime it was turned on either, I never did get found out for doing that, in May!

Anyway, my camera of choice was a Boots Tele 110, yes I had a fancy one that was a huge £3 more expensive than the Mini 110. It had a mechanical switch to change from the normal lens to a telephoto lens.

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Was My DIY Lens Repair Successful…?

During my SOS Algarve Animal Charity Event on Saturday my trusty Nikon AF-S 80-400mm suffered a problem. I love this lens for my Dogs-In-Nature Photo Shoots because I have the ability to be far enough away to allow natural behaviour but also be able to quickly open wider when they get closer. This lens is also the perfect walk-about lens for the same reason. It is reason number 1 (of 2) why I’d rather this lens to the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm even though it has less reach. This lens and almost all my other lenses have the “gold ring” on the end of the barrel which designates it as a professional build lens (see my Equipment List). This means that it is weather and dust sealed, which is reason number 2 why I’m not a fan of the 200-500mm as it doesn’t and in this incredibly dusty environment I think it’s life could be short lived. However, as the 80-400mm lens is a zoom lens, then there is always the possibility of dust and sand getting inside the zoom barrel and this is what I think happened during the shoot. Everything was going great until suddenly the zoom ring became extremely stiff, luckily, it didn’t seize and I was able to continue with the shoot, although I always have my Nikon AF-S 70-200mm waiting as a very good substitute.

I purchased this lens back in 2013 when it was released and although it has been used extensively throughout its life, I have always taken care to ensure no damage to any of the glass or workings. So, now the dilemma, do I send it off to Nikon for repair and pay what would probably be around €1000, do I even just invest in a new one, current prices are around €2000 or do I try to repair it myself??? WHAT DISMANTLE A LENS!!!!! I have never done this before and thought, why not, I have nothing to lose as I can always opt for the first two options. After watching a few YouTube videos, albeit other Nikon lenses, I started to remove the front elements.

Here is a shot of the front element removed, you can see the small pieces of what look like ground metal filings on the other elements from where the zoom barrel was grinding.

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Photography Bean Bags Made In The Algarve Available Now!

I always discuss Photography Bean Bags on my Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshop when it comes to shooting with a slow shutter speed. Usually I get the “Where can I get one?” question, therefore, I decided to look into getting these made right here in the Algarve.

Bean Bags are a great substitute for a tripod particularly when using air travel where a tripod can be a pain. They are also sometimes a better choice than a tripod when the winds are high using a long shutter speed. In my opinion, they are a far better choice than the small mini tripods available due to the greater flexibility of camera position Bean Bags offer.

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New Shop Coming Soon!

You may start to see some various changes to the website over the next coming days, please ignore any Shop links that may appear as orders will not go through. Over the last few months, I have been busy putting together a new studio at home, yes, I’ve literally moved into part of our attic! As you can see there is a little decorating to do, but it’s fully functional and ready to start printing from a professional Canon Printer. And yes, that is a small digital drum kit to whack when I’m having a bad/slow day!

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The Importance Of Clean Equipment

As you may have read in previous posts, I have recently been having an issue with my Nikon AF-S 80-400mm lens. It was having trouble locking on focus and keeping locked on with Continuous Auto Focus. It would “hunt” making a terrible mechanical noise. I thought it was time to be sent off for a motor service.

I’m not actually sure what fixed the issue, but a full clean of both front and rear elements, a clean of the electrical contacts (which is what I believe to have been the problem) on the lens, a blow with my Giotto’s Rocket Blower and also a blow on the camera mirror itself and as you can see from yet another Wally action shot that everything is back as it should. Remember, for all the electronic wizardry such as Auto Focus and Metering, the camera needs a clear view of the reflected light.

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Super Dog!
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