Equipment Highlight – Ruggard Triumph 55

Ruggard Triumph 55

The Triumph 55 by Ruggard

Ruggard Triumph 55

My friends at B&H set me up with this cool camera bag backpack.  Let me tell you my impressions…

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out how to get things in and out in an efficient manner.  It has a top pouch and large side pouch.  As I poked around the thing I discovered the back has a zipper.  I opened it, and whoa!  There was plenty of room.

The next step was to see what I could cram in this thing.  If I could get enough in it, my plan was to take it with me to Houston.

Here’s a picture of what I managed to get inside:

Ruggard Triumph 55

Contents of the Triumph 55

Let me inventory this for you…

  • Fujifilm X-E1
  • 2 SD card wallets
  • Light meter
  • 2 LED lights
  • LensPens (2)
  • 2 58mm filters in their cases
  • 3 Fujifilm batteries
  • Closeup lens set
  • 85mm Lens
  • 15-55mm Lens
  • LensBaby Composer
  • LensBaby Sweet 35
  • T2i batteries (5)
  • Canon T2i with a Sigma 8-16mm Lens
  • Tascam digital record
  • and business cards and odds and ends

After getting it packed, came the next part.  This is a slinger that looks like a backpack with one strap.  It is made so you can wear it on the front for quick access, or on the back for carrying.  It took mentally challenged photographer a little while to figure it out, but once I did, it quickly became second nature.

It cost about $80, and it is very well built.

Stories From the Studio – Broken Equipment

Broken Equipment

Insurance doesn’t cover stupidity or clumsiness. When it comes to camera equipment, a bump, bang, or drop can cost thousands if you’re not careful.

Camera neck straps can save your camera, but they can also damage your neck and shoulders.  As a result, it is a trade off:  Safety of the camera or your health.

I often wrap the neck strap around my wrist so if my camera does slip out of my hand, the strap will still catch it before it hits the ground.  Many photographers do this.  It works well if you are careful.

This particular day I was quite involved in my photo session.  It is easy to be distracted when photographing a beautiful model.  (below)

Broken Equipment - copyright 2014 db walton

The Expensive Shoot

As the photo shoot progressed, I needed to change memory cards so I sat my camera down on a chair.  Upon picking the camera up, before I could get the strap wrapped around my wrist, the arm of the chair caught the strap and sent the camera flying back towards the chair.  Lunging towards the camera, I was able to catch it, but the $350 part (a Pocket Wizard) hit the chair and snapped.

Looking at my client, and a little embarrassed, I explained I would have to get my spare Pocket Wizard because I just broke it.

I learned a couple of lessons that day.  First, I will never pay a lot of money for cheaply made parts.  (The Pocket Wizards were just that… cheaply made).  Second, slow down no matter how well the shoot is going.

For the photographers reading, I’ve switch from Pocket Wizards because they became too expensive.  The hot-shoe on the breaks easily, and the electronics seems to fail after a year or two.  I’ve switched to the Aputure Trigmaster II system.  It’s a little more durable and it costs a lot less.  It also has features only available in the very high-end Pocket Wizards.

For the clients reading, just remind me to slow down.

Wildcard Wednesday – Focus


I was really amazed the other day.  I was looking at a web site where a photographer had requested I do.  His genre was way different from mine, but that doesn’t change one fact.  That fact is…

If the subject isn’t in focus, it isn’t the subject.

We’ve all seen photos where the face is in focus and the background out of focus.  Take, for example, this un-retouched photograph…

Focus copyright 2014 db walton


The subject is the little girl; the background is blurred.  This is what you expect.

Where things go wrong is when nothing is in focus, or parts of the background are sharper than the subject.

To my fellow photographers:

If the focal point of the photograph is not in focus, do not publish it on your web site.

Blur can be caused by more than just focus.  It can also be caused by motion.  The same rules apply.  The subject needs to be in focus.  For example, a motor cycle can have motion blur in the photograph implying motion, but the motorcycle itself should be in focus.  However, if you’re photographing a Little League game and the entire picture has motion blur, you’ve got an image that shouldn’t be  on your web site.

Camera shake is a type of motion blur that can be avoided with a tripod.  Again, if you have camera shake, don’t post it on your web site.

 What can help?

If you are shooting RAW, you can find out what auto-focus point your camera locked in to.  Knowing this can often help you determine what may be happening.  Using a different auto-focus mode might help.  For example, selective autofocus isn’t good for fast moving subject.  But, continuous auto-focus is good for moving subjects.

If you are a manual focus person, you might double check the diopter on your viewfinder.  Or, perhaps it is time to try auto-focus.

Also, before posting an image, when in your photo manipulation software zoom in at 100% and inspect the details.  If there are no details, don’t post it.

Yes, that might mean you’ll be tossing out a lot of images, but that’s better than airing your dirty laundry.

Just saying.



Product Highlight – Professional Prints

Professional Prints

There is a huge difference between the prints you can make at home on your ink jet printer, the prints you get at the local drug store for 10 cents each, and prints you get from a professional lab.

I cannot show you the difference on the computer screen, so I will have to describe them to you…

Most consumer ink jet printers do a great job at a high cost.  (A 4×6 on your ink jet printer will end up costing you  25-70 cents when you consider the amount of ink.  Paper adds another 10 cents.)  However, take an ink jet print and run it under water and see what happens.  When you consider humidity is in the air all of the time, imagine what happens to the print over time.

They have made great strides in improving ink jet UV stability, but the jury is still out.  I still haven’t seen an ink jet print that has held up as well as a silver halide print.

So, for the cost, you still come out ahead in all ways by getting a traditional photographic print.

When it comes to the drug store print, you never know what you are going to get.    Some drug stores maintain their equipment well, and train their operators.  Others do not.  Some use ink jet printers, some use dye sublimation printers, and some use real photographic paper.  You’ve already read what I’ve said about ink jet prints, but dye sublimation prints are VERY susceptible to UV damage.  Dye sublimation prints will “gas out” over time.  They are probably your worst choice for longevity.

When it comes to pro-labs, you know they place their business on the line in providing high quality products.  That is why we provide only pro-lab prints to our clients.

I’ve toured the lab we use, and I’ve seen the process from start to finish.  There is no doubt the process alone provides a better print than a drug store.  At the end of the process, I request the lab spray each print with additional UV protection.  The end result is the best quality print with the longest longevity money can buy.

So, the next time you want quality, come to our studio.  Both us and the lab stand behind our work.

Week of April 14, 2014

Week of April 14, 2014

I recently heard it said that “selfie” was very close to being “selfish”.  Don’t be selfish.  For the week of April 14, 2014, we’re taking appointments for our Head Shot Days on April 25th.  Remember, it is only $40 + tax for a professional, retouched head-shot.  This month we’re featuring a black backdrop with dramatic lighting.

copyright 2013 db walton

Elizabethe Portrait

When dressing for a dramatic head-shot like this, dark clothing is recommended.  This is because they eye is drawn to the lightest part of the image.

Such head-shots are powerful and carry impact.  So, if you want a head-shot that makes you look powerful and have impact, call us for an appointment on 4/25/2014.  Slots are limited and only available until we are booked that day.

(315) 226-3292

If you have a group or company that would like head-shots for everyone in your organization, we also do on-location head-shots.  We bring the lighting and backdrops – you provide a space for us to work.  We can get your staff photographed quickly and efficiently so people can get back to work.  (And, we can do a group photo at the same time.  Thus, you can get individual head-shots and a group photo all on the same day.)

So, just say, “No”, to the selfie.