The Digital Photo Guy

New Day, New Direction

by on Jun.07, 2011, under gear, Monday Morning Tips, Workshops

More Photography, Less Marketing

Starting immediately, I am offering classes by appointment only. I will, of course, finish classes I am currently teaching or scheduled to teach (e.g. Palomar College) but I will not develop, schedule or market new classes or workshops except on request. To schedule a class, send me an e-mail with two or three days that are convenient for you and, at least, two weeks in advance. After I check my calendar, I’ll confirm a date and send you an invoice. All my current classes and workshops are available on-demand.

The only other services I offer at this time are an Annual Photography Coaching Plan at $60/year ($5 per month) and a Premium Photography Coaching Plan at $120/year ($10/month).  For $60/year, you get unlimited access to the site and timely answers to e-mail questions. The premium service also includes 10 hours of webinar. If you have a complex question, you can request a face-to-face meeting via webinar. Each meeting is also recorded for you to review for up to 60 days.

The 10 hours can also be used to schedule standard webinar classes such as Digital SLR for New dSLR Owners (3 hours,) Photoshop Elements in 3 Hours (3 hours) or Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers (6 hours.) The hours cannot be applied toward special events. Another use for the 10 hours is individual Feedback and Coaching Time Sessions (FACTS.) Webinar classes and meetings can be scheduled anytime between 8AM to 8PM Pacific Time, Monday through Friday with, at least, two weeks notice. Immediate or after hours services are available at an extra charge.

Former students are always welcome to e-mail questions and they will always receive a reply. Registered readers will receive a response to questions of interest to larger audiences.

Bighorn Sheep at Whitewater Canyon Preserve

OK, so I didn’t see any bighorns. I DID see a rock that fooled me into believeing it was a bighorn! Whitewater Canyon was a fun place but it turns out wild bighorn sheep don’t perform on cue. I hope to go back in July and try again. Next time, I’ll have a better idea of what I’m looking for. Here are some photos I made while waiting for bighorns to show up.


The first is the Whitewater River at dawn. As you can see, at 6AM, the light was already pretty bright on the western slopes. The second was the night before when a volunteer at the ranger station told me there would be alpenglow on Mt San Jacinto. Knowing conditions weren’t right for alpenglow, I was skeptical but set up just in case. Obviously, there was no alpenglow but I created this HDR and faked a subtle alpenglow. Tell me if you think it passes muster. Would Galen Rowell fall for it? While I was out at 6AM to make the first photo, I came across these tracks which weren’t there the night before. I got a bit nervous knowing I was sharing the river with someone with big claws.

If you’re into alpenglow, join me in the Eastern Sierras in October. One of my goals will be alpenglow off Mt Whitney from Alabama Hills. I also hope to capture alpenglow at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

Photographers’ Vest Review

After my last post about photographers’ vests, reader Andy sent me a link to Great Outdoors Depot, an on-line store in Tumwater, WA (formerly home to Olympia Beer) Curious to see the difference between brands, I ordered a generic, no-name vest for $45. I wanted to see how it compared to the $115 Tamrac and $75 Weekender.

I was pleasently surprised to learn that there are noticable differences among vests priced at $50, $75 and $115. For those readers who like to cut to the chase, the Tamrac 153 for $115 turned out to be my favorite. For my readers who don’t plan to use the vest daily or weekly, the no-name generic from Great Outdoors Depot is a good bet. The Weekender Traveler is best for people who want a very lightweight vest for nothing more than a dSLR without extra lenses, spare batteries and a bottle of water.

The first thing that surprised me was that more pockets isn’t better. The no-name generic (NoNaGen) has the most pockets, 24 total. However, 4 are pen pockets. I don’t know about you but I don’t need 4 pens. The Weekender Traveler Vest has 21 pockets but three are narrow, deep inside pockets that aren’t useful for much of anything photographic. The Tamrac 153 has just 15 pockets but each seems to fit a specific photographic purpose.

Rather than list the pros and cons of each vest, I’ll just point out my favorite features about each vest as well as some of my least favorite features and let you decide.

My favorite features of the Weekender Traveler are light weight at about 12 oz and rubberized grip pads sewn into the shoulders to keep the vest from slipping off when the pockets are loaded. The open mesh back allows great ventilation and the right rear pocket perfectly holds a water bottle in an upright position. I also like the huge outside hook loop on the back of the vest, making it easy to hang on a hook.

Among the Weekender’s worst features are poor build quality that caused a pocket liner to tear out. To be perfectly fair, it wasn’t designed to carry a 1.5 lbs lens. The D-rings are cheesy plastic and I wouldn’t trust them. The cinch straps on the sides have very limited adjustment (~1.5″) and, again, the D-rings are plastic so don’t expect them to last long. The best description for the zippers is “dainty.” All three vests had side slash pockets that are of no use for anything but a place to store your hands.

Among the best features of the NoNaGen are its heavy duty build. This cotton vest weighs about 1.5 lbs and has a full mesh back that’s also covered with cotton panels. The plastic zippers remind me of the heavy metal zippers on flak jackets. A cool left breast pocket perfectly holds a Canon 70-200/4 with reversed hood. On the right breast, there’s a hidden zippered pocket that’s perfect for cell phones. On the back, there are large pockets both outside and inside. The one inside is zippered and lined.

Among the NoNaGen’s worst features are cheesy pot metal D-rings that can be easily bent with fingers and a redundant zipper on the left, breast pocket. With a 70-200/4 in there, I’d be concerned about scratching the finish on the lens. The cinch tabs on the sides have just two snaps so adjustment is limited. If you want to use the D-rings, I suggest replacing them with mini-carabiners.

My favorite is the Tamrac 153 World Correspondent. It weighs about 1 lbs and is made of medium weight cotton. The back has mesh pleats so it’s a good combination of mesh and solid panels. The front pockets are all pleated and have elastic around the top edge so they can bulge out. The D-rings are real metal (you knew this was coming) but, having said that, I don’t know what I’d ever use them for.

I can’t think of a single bad feature of the Tamrac except the price. At $115, it’s over 2 times the price of the NoNaGen. It’s certainly a better value than the Weekender. If I had to nit-pick, I prefer the true khaki color of the Weekender over th darker khaki of the Tamrac. The NoNaGen is closer to military OD (olive drab.)

Since I don’t need three vests, the NoNaGen and Weekender are up for sale. The NoNaGen is $45 plus $10 S&H. It’s a Large (approximately 44-46 chest) and never been worn.

The Weekender Treveler is just $30 because of the torn right, front pocket liner. The tear can’t be seen except when the flap is open. It’s also a Large. Add $5 S&H.

To purchase either, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the PayPal particulars.


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