23 March 2016

Don't Be Afraid

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." 
~ Nelson Mandela

Don't be afraid.

You know I can honestly leave this post at just those 3 words, but anybody who knows me, knows I am never that succinct. I like to use my words, so let me articulate my meaning here. Elocution would serve better, but since I have not as of yet published my work via podcasts, the written word will suffice. As a former Staff Sergeant in the Army, my voice can deliver the intended affect with inflection and tone that deliver my meaning more accurately, but I will try to get my point across, nonetheless. Maybe one day I'll do a speech on the matter. For now...the written word.

Art Model, Samantha ©2011 Terrell Neasley

We all fear. Its inevitable that something will arise that will cause fear at some point in our lives. However, as you may already know, its how we respond to the fear that makes the difference. As a kid, I used to get my ass kicked just about daily, until I decided to make some changes. Since I was already taking a beating, how would striking back and defending myself make matters worse? So I learned to hit back...hard. Interestingly enough, the beatings stopped. Correlation? You tell me.

Today, I live differently. I don't have to fight like that so much. There are other things in life that make me afraid, but those early years, along with some military refining has helped me control fears better, (but not eliminate them, however). Now, I almost have fun with it. Fear lets me take on life challenges that can be rewarding times ten more when you overcome them. I tend to run towards things I fear, which may not be wise at times, but I'm not altogether stupid either.

Art Model, Enyo ©2011 Terrell Neasley

Don't be afraid of the opinion of others. This is especially so, concerning those who should have little influence on your well-being, income, or health.

Don't be afraid of being the only one. It can be lonely to go it alone but you will find out more about yourself, your capabilities, and thereby boosting your confidence. Not everyone has your vision or wants to do what you want to do. That doesn't mean you have to flow with the status quo. Do you.

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. It's where all the fruit is." 
~Shirley MacLaine

Don't be afraid to lose things, people, or money. It's bound to happen and you'll have to accept that fact. Its supposed to be that way when you think about it. People will come and go, but that's not always a bad thing. Things are temporary and you'll always be getting more stuff.

Don't be afraid to try new things. This is how you learn and experience the world.

Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Don't be afraid to fail. I've heard is said, "Failure is not the opposite of Success. It is PART of it." You'll make mistakes. Get up and learn from it.

Don't be afraid of the unknown. You don't know everything. In fact, you know very little. Hence, most of the universe is unknown to you. Think about how much you didn't know 5 years ago. The things you know today were unknown to you then. You don't always need to play it safe. Be smart. Get outside the lines a little bit. You'll thank me.

Don't be afraid to start that adventure. Old people don't brag about how many overtime hours they spent at the office. That shit doesn't make for good stories.

Art Model Emese, ©2011 Terrell Neasley

"An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose."
~ Langston Hughes

Don't be afraid to be hated. Not everyone will like you, especially when you start getting good and succeeding. That's just a fact. It means you're likely enjoying yourself. Don't sabotage your own happiness worrying about somebody hating on you.

Don't be afraid of bad circumstances. It happens. Its going to happen again. How you respond to bad circumstances is what makes the bad circumstances permanent or not. And if they are not permanent...why worry?

Don't be afraid to trust yourself. In all actuality, you can't trust yourself, but you should. You're going to fail. You're going to let yourself down. However all that matters is the fact that you still control you. You 100% can't control anyone else. You CAN control you. So that makes you the most trustworthy person alive. Having some self control issues? Well, stop that shit.

Art Model, Melissa ©2009 Terrell Neasley

Don't be afraid to keep learning...from anybody. I learn as much from an 80 year old as I can from an 18 year old. I can't say what I might learn from an 8 year old, but I'm sure its possible, somehow. You won't know it all. Ever. So keep soaking up information and tidbits of wisdom where you find it. Keep your mind open because you'll likely come across it in some of the most unlikely places. Age, social status, economic class, race... if you limit where you can accept learning because of these dividing lines, you limit the potential you can evolve to. Cut that shit out.

Now go handle your business.

Art Model, KristiC ©2016 Terrell Neasley

21 March 2016

Things to Consider when Selecting Your New Tripod

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

I get asked on a regular basis about choice of camera...Nikon or Canon? Mirrorless or DSLR? Can a micro four-thirds system compete with larger sensors? Do I need to be full-frame? These are questions I tend to address on my blog quite often, but I haven't paid the same attention to tripods, so maybe its a good time to get into that now.

I have time allotted to tripods during my One-on-One photography course right before I get into night time photography. I also cover this material just about every day I work at B&C Camera, which isn't much nowadays. I've elected to reduce my time there to concentrate on my own photo business. Somehow, I still end up there more than the time I actually clock in. Hanging out at camera stores and all that gear can be addictive.

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

Anyhoo, in selecting a tripod budget is the primary concern with most people. Too often, amateur photogs are willing to spend $1500 to $3000 on a good camera, but are totally content to put it on a $30 set of legs. Personally, I'm not letting them do it. You can go cheap with a lot of things, but a tripod ain't one. You don't have to get all Gitzo, but finding the cheapest Sunpak on Amazon is NOT the right answer.

Load Capacity
Next factor? Consider two things: the weight of what you're going to put on it and whether or not you'll be traveling (carrying on your back or flying with a carry-on) with the tripod or not. I've got 3 or 4 tripods and 2 of them are my work horses depending on what I'm doing. I have a heavy duty Manfrotto for the majority of my work, but I also have a Promaster XC525 series for travel when I need to hike or fly with smaller by sturdy support.

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

If you are not having to carry your tripod around on your back or in luggage, then you can stand to get something sturdy and durable. I'd say a good target budget can get you a good kit (legs and head) for under $300, and likely around $200. Look up the weight specifications on your camera and the heaviest lens you have. Consider a good system that can handle at least triple that weight. You never want your support system to be straining. And you want to consider the possibility you may rent a heavier camera and lens in the future for a special project. Both my tripods have a max load of 22 or more pounds. In addition to all that, think about how tall the tripod extends up to. The taller you are, the more consideration you'll need to give to how much you want to have to bend over to see through your viewfinder.

Tripod Head
Next, consider the head. Ball heads are most commonly used, but pan/tilt heads can be less costly. Feel out what's most comfortable and natural in your hands. You also need to think about what quick release plate your tripod uses. I have had plenty of people coming in asking if we have quick release plates for their tripods for a lesser known economy brand. Unfortunately, those guys can thrown their tripods away. Get a tripod that has either a standard Manfrotto quick release system or one that utilizes the Arca-Swiss style. Vacation anywhere in the country and realize you forgot your quick release plate, you can visit just about any camera store and you can get replacements. That's not true of the proprietary brands. They usually have a plastic plate made strictly for its own head and if you lose it, you can either contact the manufacturer or trash it. A good head simply can't be taken seriously enough. In fact, you can get two different ones for different reasons. Get a ball head for your primary photo work, but you can do a fluid head for video.

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

Tripod Legs
Sturdy support is the main consideration here. Everything else is convenience. Do the legs wobble at all? Do they look and feel like they'll hold up for years to come? Do they spread out a full 90 degrees and lay flat? Consider which locking mechanism you prefer. Tripods will either come with twist type or clamps to lock the legs in place. Do they feel like cheap plastic? They'll have to hold up to repeated locking and unlocking. What are the legs made of. I prefer carbon fiber legs, but expect to pay likely twice what the aluminum legs run. (HA! I said "Legs Run"!) They are lighter than aluminum and stronger, but the main reason for my choice is that they look better. I confess that. Carbon Fiber will also not get as uncomfortable to hold in cold environments as aluminum does. Good legs are hard to beat.

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

Everything here is mainly convenience, although you can make an argument for some pros or serious enthusiasts that some of these features are necessary requirements.

Many of the good ball heads come with three separate controls for locking the ball head, adjusting the tension/friction for the ball head when its not locked in place, as well as locking your panning position. The tension control is good thing to have, especially if you have a heavy camera system. This way the ball can be adjusted so that when you unlock the ball head, it doesn't suddenly tilt forward. Economical ball heads might eliminate this feature all together.

Tripods might also come with built-in levels, sometimes as many as 3, which can be handy. However my main feature I look for is a quick release plate assembly with a Double Locking mechanism. For me, this is absolutely essential. I don't want to bump or snag my camera and unlock the quick release accidentally and then watch as my takes a spill. A double locking mechanism require two actions to unlock the plate. So ask for this, dare I say, insist upon it!

Lastly, the center-post or neck of a tripod can be a feature. Most tripods allow you to use the center neck to adjust the height and raise the camera. I personally do not use this feature and will traditionally keep it locked in the lowest position. I don't like raising my camera up and thereby alter the center of gravity. I like it balanced and stabilized. However, on my main Manfrotto system, the center posts can be adjusted to lay horizontally. This has proven to be a true added benefit in this feature when I do macro photography. Some center posts have a hook on the bottom to attach a weight of some sort for more stability. There are also reversible center posts that hang your camera upside down. Other tripods like the Gitzo Ocean Traveler can withstand sea salt with its anti-corrosion feature, but it'll also run you north of $1100. Some might have spiked feet or padded ones depending on the surface you'll be shooting on.

Art Model Christina, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

So while there's lots to consider, its basically getting the fundamentals down and then choosing specific features that may benefit you. Here are a few extra tips. Make sure you have the lens pointed out over a tripod leg for stability. Use a cable release connected to your camera as well as the mirror lock-up feature on your camera for those long exposures to help eliminate blur. If the situation you wish to shoot in forbids tripod use, consider a good monopod. My Promaster XC525 has one leg that's detachable to act as a monopod. Got questions, thoughts, gripes? Leave'em in the comments.