This blog is my attempt to keep track of some of the things I learn along the way, with my Canon 7D, G12 and accessories. All images copyright Brad Calkins, not to be used without permission (or purchase). I do not attempt to monetize my blog, other than to promote my stock photo portfolio on Dreamstime.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Assignment entry AND editor's choice

I submitted a few entries in this month's assignment on Dreamstime. The shot below is one of them, for the 'first steps' assignment focussed on people in the act of learning. I actually had this image queued up for submittal a number of months back but held off becuase I hadne't uploaded releases for the out of focus kids yet. I found that it was accepted this morning for the assignment, but better yet, it was selected as an editor's choice as well! All good news with the promise of increased porfolio exposure in my near future :) This was taken with my 40D and 70-200mm f/4 lens...

Learning to ride a bike
© Bradcalkins

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two images found!

Just by chance I found two of my images out in the real world this week. Last Friday I flew through the Victoria airport and I took a second to glance in the Victoria calendars on sale. Amazingly I found one of my images in the first calendar I looked in! This is the shot they used for February 2010:

Victoria, Canada
© Bradcalkins

Then, on Monday I received the latest copy of Photo Life. Sure enough, I had an entry in this month's Showtime contest that made the cut (the theme was Juxtapositions):

Boy waiting with Grandpa

© Bradcalkins

Friday, January 15, 2010

Environment Ransom Note

Lately I've been thinking about some type of theme to focus on - and the environment seems like a good choice. Both becuase it is something I feel strongly about, but also becuase it is a hot topic these days. Here is an example of a recent upload - I was hoping for a bit of humor, too!

Environment ransom note
© Photographer: Bradcalkins Agency:

Climate change background
© Photographer: Bradcalkins | Agency:

And of course, there are always classics like this:

Recycle box
© Photographer: Bradcalkins Agency:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Free stock photos

Many people may be unaware that Dreamstime offers free stock photos, in addition to the commercial ones. In some cases they are older or lower quality, but many are there because contributors want to attract people to their portfolio.

This is an example of mine that I donated a while back:


There are some additional limitations on use, but for many these may fit the bill - especially for non-commercial work. I also found it of use when I started out in stock as I could get my hands on top contributors images to get a feel for how their quality was at 100% to see if I was in the ballpark or not quality wise. Handy to avoid rejections on your own work.

You'll also note that contributors get their other images shown next to the free one, so this may provide some additional exposure. You still have to sign up (I think) to get the free images, but there aren't any other charges or commitments...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ski season

I've been planning on this image for a while, and fortunately got some ski goggles for Christmas. Getting something new helps same time as you don't have to clean out any dust and scratches prior to shooting... I made use of a mountain image for the reflection. I like this type of image as it doesn't take much time, but is a lot more dramatic that just a shot of goggles. I would imagine that any magazine using this for an article would probably highlight actual products - and therefore wouldn't buy a logo free shot. Thus, my target audience is someone looking for generic googles - and this calls your attention a bit more than just goggles. It also helps to hide the logos on the strap that you would otherwise see through the lens.

Ski goggles
© Photographer: Bradcalkins | Agency:

I had the idea of a hockey goal shot while skating at the rink, but it proved to be quite hard to get. I had my son throw the puck repeatedly into the net so the net was sort of bulged out with the puck. Looked better than this shot, I think, but I just couldn't get it sharp and in focus. Thus I settled on this shot...

Hockey goal
© Photographer: Bradcalkins | Agency:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is a software feature free?

© Boris Kocis

In reading various blogs and reviews it often comes up that a manufacturer is being mean spirited by 'crippling' low cost cameras by taking out features that are software only (like mirror lock up, RAW storage, etc.). The original Canon EOS Digital Rebel was missing key features of the 10D that were later added back in via software hacks and the like.

Why do people think that adding a software feature is free for a manufacturer? For sure there is an element of not hurting sales of more expensive models by keeping some features out, but there ARE costs to adding a software feature beyond the obvious:

1. Testing! If you add a feature it must be tested. Testing the feature in another body/product does not mean you can skip testing in the new product.
2. Documentation. You must document every feature in a camera - this adds costs to the product when you have to pay someone to document it.
3. Support. More features means more support costs. Ultimately there is someone who can't figure out how to use the feature that needs help. While a tech support person who has used a feature in one body would know how to use it in another (without additional training) it does increase costs if you have teams dedicated to a product line...
4. Firmware releases. The cost of releasing a patch or update to correct a problem goes beyond testing and distributing the patch. You must also include the cost of bad press. So if you do add a feature 'for free' and then have to patch it you've really lost the bonus of that feature.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another assignment entry

At the eleventh hour I thought of a new take on my pollution shot from China. It has been relatively successful, so reworking it seemed a good fit for the assignment (reshoot or improve upon what you've done before). My favorite part of this shot is that the zipper is from the Dreamtime jacket I won in a previous assignment :)
Clean air
© Photographer: Bradcalkins Agency:

Monday, January 4, 2010

GF1 + EF 85mm f/1.8

The other day I slipped my EOS adapter and 85mm prime onto my GF1 and slipped it into my coat pocket (once again proving the size of the GF1 makes it very portable compared to my 40D). I was able to grab some manual focus shots of the kids sledding, but also this one of my parent standing atop a snowy hill. This and others were accepted for stock, which is a pleasing side note. I can't say enough about how much I'm enjoying the GF1. I wouldn't try to manually focus my 85mm on the GF1 for moving subjects, but having a telephoto (170mm f/1.8) for 'free' is great. The fact that it fits in my pocket AND that I can go sledding with it stowed there is icing on the cake :)

Senior couple on hill
© Photographer: Bradcalkins

Manual focus is actually quite well done - a quick press of the dial on the back and you are looking at 5x for focus, then a tap of the shutter zips back to full screen. The only thing that would be better is if it showed a partial enlargement so you could still see the 'whole' image behind for faster framing.

I would also say that I'm not a huge fan of the out of camera jpgs, but as I shoot RAW anyways I'm pretty happy with the color on this camera. Here is an example shot with the pancake lens:

Children sledding
© Photographer: Bradcalkins