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My involvement with photography was fairly backwards it seems. I was photo-illiterate until just a couple years ago towards the end of high school when I thought it would be a cool idea to take my dad’s Sony Handycam HDR-HC3 on a month long backpacking trip in Europe with a school group. I set out to record as much as I could about the dozens of incredible places we visited across the continent and wound up with over 11 hours of footage to sift through and a combined vault of around 12,000 photos from the slew of digital point and shoots that my friends had brought. Handling such a ridiculous amount of media forced me to familiarize myself with how it all works, especially when it came time to edit the 11 hours into a full length movie to summarize the course. I received enough praise from my friends and family for my work on the project to encourage me to consider film as a career. I split the cost of a Canon XH-A1 as a graduation present and headed out to LA with no idea what to expect. From experimenting around with the camera I inadvertently taught myself the basics of aperture, shutter speed and speed/sensitivity relations and gradually came to realize that (of course) these same principles applied to still photography! I had reached the stage where I was uninterested in point and shoots (having played around with my mom’s Canon Rebel G enough to know the difference in quality a SLR makes over a point and shoot disposable) but not completely taken by still photography. Now that I at least felt like I knew a bit more about the technical side of things, I happily hocked the XH-A1 after a few years of solid school usage and splurged on a 7D, eager to become as comfortable with still photography as I was with video — given the current state of affairs I’d say the 7D is a pretty solid starting point for a film major who wants to do photography but isn’t getting paid for his work yet.
So in a way I learned still photography after video, kind of like learning to walk after learning how to do a cartwheel if you’ll pardon the stupid simile.
Aside from the killer video this thing pulls, my favorite quality is hands down the rate of fire on its stills. The lack of constant autofocus while shooting video makes following focus difficult, but all the more satisfying when you pull it off.
I signed on to HDR experimentation after seeing Tucker and Giacomo stumble onto the scene. Naturally one of my first curiosities was as to when/if Videomatix Pro would ever see the light of day… we shall see…
I currently use a Canon 7D w/ battery grip, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, Canon 50mm f/1.8, and Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II.
Thanks for visiting, I hope you find at least one image on here that makes you think Wow, I never knew you could take a picture like that… but even more so I hope you say that in reference to something that ends with “posted by andrew.” Enjoy!
I got into photography mostly because of Tucker, since he’s been shooting forever. I remember back when he only had a Canon point-and-shoot (which shot onto a 16MB SD card or something) learning about his vacations and random stuff he saw through the pictures he would show me. In high school, I would tag along whenever he went out to shoot cool architecture or nature around his neighborhood. As he started to learn the more technical side, and work with some more professional gear (like a medium format camera he borrowed from his school, and his first DSLR), he began to teach me some of it too. What really caught my interest was one time when he spent almost 30 minutes just setting up for one medium format shot: figuring out the lighting with light meter, then doing a test shot with his 30D, then realizing he needed to compensate the light meter reading for the sensor size on the 30D, then figuring out what aperture he wanted, then (finally!) taking it. Being the type of person who likes to understand how everything works, I wanted to know all the thought that went into it, which he was happy to do.
For a long time I, too, only had a point-and-shoot (Canon A550 I think), shooting whatever and wherever I could, but in the last year I finally was able to afford a DSLR, which finally gave me the power to do all the things I had seen Tucker do, and the things I wanted to do with my pictures.
Gear: Canon 50D, Canon 50mm f/1.8 II, Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM, Canon 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS, Vivitar 285HV Flash, TrekTech T-Pod
Photography has been a passion of mine for many, many years. As such, this is lengthy and should only be read if bored or really interested, or some combination of the two. I remember shooting family vacations with a 2mp Kodak camera from the very beginning of digital photography, back when I was just 10 or 11. From there, I got a 4mp Canon Digital Elph for christmas in 2003, and began taking pictures of just about everything. My father decided that we should purchase a digital SLR prior to our first family vacation outside of the US, and we got a Canon Digital Rebel, the 6 megapixel 300D, which we took to Barcelona. I ended up doing almost all of the shooting, and in the process learned about the basics, such as aperture and shutter speed, and realized how much creative control these basic camera functions could provide. Realizing that I was definitely into photography, I took an intro film class in 9th grade and went back in time for a bit, shooting with a Nikon SLR and good old black and white film. With only 30 or so exposures to work with, and the realization that every exposure I wanted to print would have to be slaved over in the darkroom, I feel that film caused me to internalize many lessons of composition, lighting, and other formal aspects of the art. I spent two years working with 35MM black and white film, doing everything from the shooting, processing, developing, and printing of the negatives, and even had the pleasure of working with a 4×5 large format camera for a year. That experience was the ultimate in “look before you shoot,” if only because each piece of film cost 10 or so dollars! Plus the hour or more per image needed in the darkroom, a much more labor intensive process than even traditional 35mm film. I was, as many photographers are, completely blown away by the detail and overall image quality that large format provided, and lessons of composition were even more evident here, as each shot took an enormous amount of time to simply frame, focus, and meter for correct exposure.
After 10th grade I dropped film and never looked back, yet I feel that the lessons I learned while working with that medium are fundamental to my work today. Digital allows a freedom that is a double edged sword; you can truly “shoot first and ask questions later” with nearly limitless space and editing headroom with RAW images in the “digital darkroom” of Photoshop, yet this creates many subpar images that are discarded. Overall I feel that digital is obviously the way of the future, if not the way of the present. I moved from the Digital Rebel to a 30D, and then a 40D, honing my digital skills in camera and in Photoshop in classes both in school and summer programs. The 5D Mark II, which I have had for about a year now, is the first camera to truly blow me away in terms of image quality and dynamic range, and the results I have gotten make me believe digital is at leas on par with, if not finally ahead of film. The minute details the sensor can capture in addition to its incredible low-light, high-ISO performance make it truly a delight to shoot with.
Now, how did I get to where I am today? I found myself in Amsterdam three years ago for Christmas and New Years and I wanted to get some tips on photographing fireworks, as the Dutch are famous for spending massive amounts of euros on pyrotechnics during the few days they are legal over this holiday. I came upon this picture via a google search:
I thought this was one of the most fantastic pictures I had ever seen, but something was “not quite right” in my mind. My first thought was, “Oh, he just did a lot of work in Photoshop.” I followed the link trail back to www.stuckincustoms.com and found myself staring at the work of Trey Ratcliff, which presented a whole new facet of Photography, one that I did not even know existed and would change the way I thought about taking photos. I read his awesome HDR tutorial and immediately set out to do some bracketing and processing of my own. From there, it’s been a process of learning the Photomatix software and honing a workflow… something that I am still very much in the middle of doing!
For the camera-nerd (like myself) I will list my gear:
-Canon 5D Mk II w/battery grip (the vertical shutter is, in my opinion, a must, as well as the extra battery capacity)
-EF 16-35mm f/2.8L
-EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
-EF 100mm f/2.8L macro
-Canon 580ex speedlight flash
-Manfrotto 3001D tripod with 3030 head
-Pelican 1520 waterproof hard case
I have owned lots of gear in the past, the 300D, 30D, and 40D as mentioned and the 17-85mm IS, 10-22mm IS, and 100mm f/2.8 macro stand out in my mind. As an amateur who is currently in college attempting to gain a liberal arts education and is not making tons of money doing this, I have to acquire gear slowly… but in the near future I see myself getting the Canon 85mm f/1.8; I’ve used Giacomo’s a bit and have loved it, especially for the value. A fast prime would be a great addition to my collection. I just got the 100mm f/2.8L macro and am totally in love! It hasn’t come off my camera since I got it and being able to shoot macros, handheld at 1/30th of a second with NO tripod is completely awesome and allows for a ton of fun shooting. While I have received much inspiration from Mr. Ratcliff in terms of the HDR process, I am and will always be staunchly a Canon user… 🙂 but I can say with the same certainty that I am and always will be a Mac user, doing all of my work on a new Macbook Pro, organizing my photos in Aperture 3.0, and offloading images regularly to externals. Once life settles down I would love to own a Mac Pro, as desktops are obviously far superior to laptops, but being in school makes that impractical. I think that was long-winded enough…! Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to email any of us with questions or comments.
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