23 October 2019

Entry-Level Camera Options and Possibilities

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I was recently asked about options for a beginner-level camera from someone looking at the Canon 4000D camera bundle for under $400 on Amazon. Is it a good camera? Will it work? Easy Answer: It'll work. But we're not here for the easy answer, because the more accurate answer is: It depends... and there are better options out there available to you.

Okay, let's talk about the Canon 4000D. First, it's a Europen edition. The North America equivalent is the Canon Rebel T100. Same thing, just different nomenclature. You may want to check out warranty issues with it. It's about as bare-bones as you can get and still call it a camera. It's an 18-megapixel respectable sensor. It launched in early 2018. It's got 9 Auto Focus points. ISO can natively reaches100 to 6400.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Can you do work with this system? I can not tell a lie. Yes, you can. I'll say that conditioned that you couple it with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The one it comes with is not a particular favorite of mine. In fact, when I worked at the camera store, I sold not a single Canon 18-55mm lens. So if yours broke and you came in to get a new one, I'd sell you a Tamron equivalent for less money OR, if you insisted on the same lens, I'd refer you to another sales associate.

As far as the bundle of stuff it comes with, keep the SD card, toss the rest of it. The two auxiliary lenses (the teleconverter and the wide-angle), you can toss those. Those things are trash. That cheap-ass tripod. Toss that too. That flimsy thing should not be trusted to hold anything over $50 on it. The colored filters, you'll never use them toss that too. Keep the bag and the SD card. Toss the rest. Those are throw-away items that are usually so cheap, their true worth is not in selling them, but rather giving them away to help sell other products.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
So back to my initial thoughts on better options.

The DSLR is on its way out. I'll start with that. The Canon 4000D is a DSLR camera whose technology has been superseded by Mirrorless tech. Demand for sales has SIGNIFICANTLY DROPPED for these types of cameras and thus the prices have dropped. Smartphones have been responsible for the biggest chunk of this decline. But they still do work and if you still need a cheap one, I'd say the Nikon D5300 is a much better option than this Canon Rebel. Just to begin with, it's 24MP. It's an older camera, but still out-performs this one with 39 Auto Focus points and ISO capabilities of 100 to 12,800. If you can swing the D5600, that one comes with an LCD screen that swivels around which is great for selfie video or YouTube work. You may have to google and search for one. With respect to entry-level systems, Nikon is the better option. So, if you want to stick with the DSLR, this is my recommendation.

Here's what I like. Mirrorless camera sales are on the rise. Mirrorless is a much better option than the DSLR. I have shot on Mirrorless cameras for close to 5 years now and have not looked back. So what Mirrorless system do I like?

 “Mirrorless over the last two years has gone from about 20 percent of the overall market to almost 40 percent,” Lev Peker, chief marketing officer at New York-based photo retailer Adorama, told Digital Trends. “This has been due to tremendous innovation by Sony which has benefited the most from this increase and, according to [consumer behavior research group] NPD, became the second largest camera seller last year.”
Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Compare Panasonic G7 vs Canon 4000D. 
I'm going to go with two in particular. The Panasonic G7 is the first fave of mine. This camera employs the smaller Micro Four-Thirds size sensor at 16MP, but is such an amazing camera that will do 4K video as well. In the above link, you can get this for $500 WITH an additional lens with the INSTANT REBATE. I owned this camera until I went with Sony systems that also did 4K. It's got so many great features that it's hard to NOT get your shot.

Compare Canon 4000D vs Sony a6000.
The overall best you can get would be the Sony a6000, for $600, which is likely the most successful camera ever made. It came out about 5 years ago. The camera has been upgraded 4 times and yet is still currently available for sale on the Sony site. It's small, 24MP, shoots 11 frames per second, 179 Phase-detect Auto Focus points, (compared to the Canon 4000D's 9!), an ISO range of 100 to 25,600 natively, and a tilting LCD screen. AND you can control this camera with your iPhone and use the iPhone as an LCD Monitor for the camera. I got this for my ex-girlfriend then upgraded her to the a6300. I currently shoot with the a6500 as a complementary camera to my Sony a7RII, which is 4 years old. I'm considering upgrading BOTH cameras at the end of the year to the Sony a7R4 and the a6600.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Beyond that, there are soooo many more advantages to a mirrorless over the DSLR. You will learn more and have more capabilities with Mirrorless. These links will help explain DSLR vs Mirrorless.

1. What is a Mirrorless Camera?
2. What are the advantages of Mirrorless over DSLR? (17 min video)

If you can hold off for Black Friday deals, or Cyber Monday discounts... wait and see what you can get these cameras for. Or maybe Christmas deals. In addition to that, I STILL recommend additional lenses, at least ONE that has an f-stop of 1.8 or 1.4. I like the Sony FE 50mm 1.8 ($200) for the Sony system, but for the Panasonic, you'll need the 25mm 1.7, for $150.

The additional lenses I recommend will give you the ability to photograph in lower light, but more importantly, it extends your creativity with better shallow depth of field capabilities and these are the least expensive ways of doing it. There are more options available, but can be more costly. And again, see about the holiday deals that will come up soon.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

15 October 2019

What Is a True Muse? Let Me Show You

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
 "All aspects of photography interest me and I feel for the female body the same curiosity and the same love as for a landscape, a face or anything else which interests me. In any case, the nude is a form of landscape. There are no reasons for my photographs, nor any rules; all depends on the mood of the moment, on the mood of the model."
~ JEANLOUP SIEFF, Photographer, b. 1930, Paris, d. 2001, Paris.
It's been slightly unsettling to me that I don't get to shoot art nudes that much in the almost 2 years that I have been traveling. I went a few weeks short of an entire year between nude shoots at one point. But I understand or at least try to, that it's not the cultural thing to do for the conservative catholic countries I've been traveling through. I tend to not be in places with a lot of tourists and local women in the Central and South American countries are simply not used to such a thing.

That being said, I've learned to be grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I do get. I was grateful when @Kayci.Lee came with me for my first month. I was appreciative when @JennyPoses4u_2 joined me in Peru for three whole weeks. And then there are those entirely unexpected little blessings that come unlooked for.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

My good friend, Susan and I were conversing and she brought up the name of a woman she thought was quite impressive whom she wished I could meet and possibly shoot with. She said the woman was in Santiago, Chile. I was in Lima, Peru, so I did not put that much stock in ever meeting her. However, as it turns out, Susan was mistaken. The woman was in Cusco, Peru. I STILL didn't think much of this happening, but this was my friend Susan. Sometimes, you need to shut your brain off and listen to your friends.

Cusco is an hour and a half flight from Lima, so I booked a flight and made the trip and it turned out to be the best spontaneous decision I've made in quite a while. I knew I was going to meet an experienced nude model. What I didn't expect was to meet a true muse. There are models that will get naked for you and there are true muses, whom I often call Godsends, whose purpose in life is to inspire people like me. What I mean by that is this. Her passion to inspire is equivalent to my passion to create. And this woman delivers. This is Athena Demos.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Now understand me. I was only in Lima because it was cheaper to Argentina from there than it was to fly direct from the US to Argentina. On a whim, I decided to spend a little time in Lima to get back to the book I'm writing. I'd written 369 pages over the summer, but for the 3 weeks I was stateside, I wrote 3. So I wanted to play catch up in a quiet spot in Lima for a bit. I lengthened my time by an additional week in Peru in order to fly to Cusco and meet Athena. I was not constrained by a flight to Argentina because I had not yet purchased a ticket. Why I had not done so, I cannot tell you, but this gave me the leeway to spend that week in Cusco.

The gift that Athena gave me was more than just her musings in front of my lens. She had an added-benefit effect on my overall experience in Cusco when she became my tour guide, by inviting me into her world there. She'd already spent months in Cusco. She took me around to the San Blas Mercado (market) and showed me places to eat that got me full on good food that cost me $1.30. Just the day before, my dumbass was eating a single meal that I had waited almost an hour and a half for, paying $25 for the privilege. I walked a half hour to that place when the Mercado was 6 minutes from me.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The people in the Mercado greeted her like a sister or a friend. It was the same as we walked down the street back to where she rented an apartment. Let me give you the perfect analogy. SHE was Crocodile Dundee and I was Sue getting the backcountry tour. Oh... I can tell you why that's such an apropos analogy. She didn't have to do it, but she invited me out to the Animal Sanctuary where she'd previously volunteered. I'll talk more about this later, but the Cchocahuasi Animal Sanctuary was amazing. Because I was with her, I was admitted into some of the enclosures with these gorgeous animals. I had never been up close to an Andean Condor and now there were 6 of them around me. I wasn't getting into the monkey house with her, but I watched HER do it.

And then at the end of it, we stopped off at the sanctuary cafe there and I had some Capis Coffee. If you are not familiar with that, it is made from coffee beans extracted from the poop of the Coati... a little raccoon-looking animal in Peru. It eats the coffee beans which get processed in the Coati digestive enzymes and is the beans are extracted from its poop, cleaned, and roasted. The enzymes are able to lessen the bitterness that occurs naturally in coffee. Look it up. It's actually a fine, smooth tasting coffee.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The images I was able to capture of Athena were more her doing than my own. In some aspects, I knew what I wanted to do, how I wanted to shoot, and how I would edit. However, the location selection was hers and I had to depend on her muse-guidance to help me do my best work. What I mean by that is this. We'd never worked together before and given that I shoot nudes very infrequently now, I was more inclined to let her dictate the flow. Two years ago, I shot nudes practically every day. Now I begin this blog post about learning how to be grateful for any chance I get.

I did the shoot knowing that she'd be moving on after our shoot. It can be difficult to enjoy a meal when you have no clue when or where your next meal will come from. You just eat. But maybe you save a little bit for later. Maybe you even pass up a larger portion because you know your system isn't used to it and can't handle it. Does it sound like I'm starving? Well, aren't we all in some regard. So in light of these unfamiliarities and uncertainties, it was better to take what was given and direct her within those parameters.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Getting back to being grateful, though. This is what I've come to understand. Timing has been one essential element in all my shoots, grand experiences, and great adventures on this trip. And they've had one common theme each time. They've been JUST what I've needed for THAT specific time, in THAT specific moment. God has put people like Athena, Jenny, Kristi, Osmany in Nicaragua, Cristina in Ecuador, Rosa in Lima, Javier in Argentina, Carola in Guatemala, and several others along the way to help me, guide me, counsel me, and sometimes just be there. So yeah, these have been humbling times.