That Teal & Orange Thingy Has To Go (just whack them upside the head and say “don’t ever do that again.”)

International Model Zhan. Location Javitz Center NYC Very lite Teal & Orange LUT applied.

That Teal Orange Thing

Happy New Year to everybody and with a new year we hope for new and better things in our lives. We wish everybody from family, friends and colleges joy and happiness in the new year. We set goals and overall it is a time to “throw away the old and bring in the new.”

Now there are many things I would love to throw away from 2K18 and wish to see very little of in 2K19. As for photography; That putrid “teal orange” bullshit has got to go. Most of you know what I’m talking about and I would guess there are others who have no idea what I’m talking about, so I’ll elaborate.

Beit a filter or a LUT the teal to orange look has inundated the photography world, particularly on social media. It is akin to the horrible “HDR look” that took place several years back and still happens to day when a new photographer very first discovers HDR. He/she will jump into Photoshop and create the horrid mess on an image with halos and virtually no shadows and think they “really have something here” and then they run off and post it on Flickr and elsewhere.

However, hopefully this photographer has a good enough friend who will pick up a big stick (not just any stick, but a big solid stick) and just whack them upside the head and say “don’t ever do that again.” Kind of like teaching your dog not to poop on the kitchen floor. Now to be honest I would never hit a dog in the head with a stick, but I would whack a photographer who creates bad HDR. Why? Because it is that bad.

Same goes for this teal orange thing. So where did the teal orange thing come from? Legend has it there was this German photographer named Berger Meister, Meister Berger that hated other photographers so much that he… Ok so of course I’m pulling your leg there but here is my opinion on where the teal orange tide came from.

Instagram or IG for short has filters for your photos. I think by now everybody knows what IG is and how it works. So, some IG filters are more popular than others and people love applying the filters because it gives them a quick way to edit a photo into something a little more interesting than the color profile their phone assigned to the photo as it was shot. Essentially everybody wants to be a better photographer but without doing a lot of work. I don’t say that as a bad thing really, its just human nature. Who doesn’t want to have a beautiful physically fit body without going to the gym?

So, IG is only part of the equation, there is more to the teal orange tide than just IG. Ig is in my opinion what spawned the everyday photographer the ability and desire to apply filters and again this is not in and of its self a bad thing.

I feel LUTs are maybe a bigger culprit than IG. LUT is short for Color Look Up Table. I’m not going to go into all the details of LUTs because what a LUT actually is and how it “really” works is a topic as about as vast as the Iceberg that the Titanic hit. But here is the short answer; LUTs are generally used to color grade video because they have the power to change one color to another and a LUT can just overall enhance a scene by conveying a look and feel to the viewer that enhances the movie, video or photo. In a nut shell it helps to tell the story the creator wanted to tell.

At this time more and more creators are shooting video on cameras that record in logarithmic format or “log” for short. Log format is a very flat looking style that is void of color saturation however this in-turn allows the camera to capture video in a higher dynamic range, essentially meaning more editable information in the shadows & highlights.

Log format is not new, it was reserved for very high-end expensive cameras, but now it is readily available on many prosumer cameras. Many vloggers shoot in log format everyday and using a LUT or more than one LUT allows the editor to put color back in to the video footage I a creative way.

At this point you may be asking “how does this log video thingy relate to photography?” It relates because of a few reasons, but mostly because most DSLR cameras are hybrids that capture both video and still images. I honestly don’t know who started using LUTs on digital images, but I first heard about them from a British photographer when he did a tutorial about them on his YouTube channel. He showed how you could stack them and blend them using Adobe Photoshop (he did not use teal & orange). I found this very interesting and I’m always exploring new editing techniques for my photography. Around this same time a realized LUTs were used in Adobe Premiere Pro and I also stared using them to edit my video. I downloaded free LUTs from the internet and they were horrible, they did not enhance my images at all, in-fact were not usable at all. The reason for this problem was because the LUTs I downloaded were for log format and my images and video were shot in standard format using whatever camera profile that was in my camera.

Now with all that said I find that there are many photographers that us LUTs to an extreme much the same way that photographers over used HDR editing a few years back. So, for whatever reason the “teal & orange” look seems to be the hot flavor that has risen above the rest, with the teal color (or some variation thereof) being more common than the orange. I will admit it looks good on some images and I have used it myself… on some images. But I have seen some photographer using it on every single image they post to their IG or other social media. I mean like every single image on the IG for the past two years, almost as if that is their signature thing or their style. If this is your style; what happens next year when this fad passes? What happens to your style when the teal & orange tide recedes and your left holding the bag (so to speak).

Maybe I’m just ranting, however I really do feel it is a look that is very over used. I will be the first to admit I’m not a color grading expert but do as much as I can to learn more about it and about using LUTs.

So, let’s hope 2019 is the year the teal & orange look recedes.

Happy 2019!

Want To Improve Your Photography Skills? (I decided to give myself an assignment and make something happen.)

Long Exposure Photography

Long Exposure Photography

Part one of two:

If you really want to grow as a photographer you have to be challenged. Imagine a video game with one level… Kind of doesn’t really exist and why? Boring! How about a race where you are the only competitor? Not much of a challenge. But take anything we do in life and add a challenge to it and it becomes interesting. After all what is life in and of its self? Just a bunch of challenges, that’s it, just a bunch of challenges.

So you want to grow as a photographer? Give yourself a challenge. Or as I like to call them “assignments.” It doesn’t matter whether you are a total beginner or a professional, or whether you are a hobby shooter that just got a new camera for Christmas. Or a working commercial photographer. I can tell you first hand that there is no greater thing that you could be doing to improve your photography skills than going out and capturing images. But the process must be focused and have a purpose or a goal. It must have an end result that you want to accomplish. Example; you say to yourself “I have the whole day free and I want to go and capture images and just have fun.” Ok… Was there any kind of plan? Or are you just gonna go out the door and hope something happens. Now don’t get me wrong, walking out the door with the camera and having it with you all the time is a great habit to get into. After all I wrote a post sometime back about the best way to capture an amazing photo is to first have the camera with you. Sounds stupid I know, so yes always have some sort of camera with you… And don’t get me started on the “well I always have my iPhone.”

Now let’s get to it. Think of what it is you want to get better at. Do you want to take better portraits? Maybe you want to improve your landscape skills. How about you shooters that would like to capture sports? Or do you just want to improve a specific skill? Myself a few years back I decided I wanted to improve my long exposure skills. But rather than just going out and letting something happen I decided to give myself an assignment and make something happen. In the end I hit my goal and the accomplishment felt good, not to mention I had a few great images that I could print and hang up. The images drew lots of compliments and most of all I improved my long exposure skills and I have that tool under my belt. I don’t always shoot long exposure, however it is so nice that when I want to do it, I can. It makes a nice skill for capturing exotic backgrounds that I use in my Photoshop composites. And it all started with a personal assignment. Here is a breakdown of what I did.

I looked at a lot of long exposure photos at the various places I visit on the web. I read as much as I could on the subject, also spent some time at Youtube. But it doesn’t matter whether you read ten books, watch twenty videos and talk to fifty people about it. You still have to go out and do it. Now for long exposures a photographer needs a neutral density filter for the lens. It helps block light allowing the shutter to stay open for long periods of time hence the term long exposure. So I purchased the filter and then I chose a location. Many photographers like to capture moving clouds or moving water with long exposure. I chose water because it is always available. Clouds on the other hand are not always optimum or there may just be no clouds that day. So I have the equipment, the location, the subject and I chose a day when I had plenty of time available. My assignment was to successfully capture some great long exposures of a sunken forest and a local reservoir. The image would show the old tree trunks rising up out of what would look like ice.

So where’s the challenge you might ask. First and for most I chose a very cold day in the winter to do this and that was no fun. But that is when I had the free time and it increased the challenge. The rest was just a matter of calculating how long to keep the shutter open and composing or framing up the scene. Not falling in the water or getting the camera and gear wet also added to the challenge. After about 3 hours I was ready to call it a day and head home. Upon downloading the images and to see my work unfold in front of me was very rewarding. Then came all the fun of editing and choosing whether to keep the color or go with a black & white. In the end I hit my goal and learned a new photography skill along the way.

Now I challenge you to give yourself an assignment. Plan it out, read about it or take a class on it. Write it out and make a plan. Gather the gear you need. Purchase the proper gear or borrow from a friend. Make a gear checklist and plan your date, time and subject. Expect the unexpected after all it is a challenge. Do the assignment with another photographer. Some people are motivated to workout at the gym with a workout partner, so maybe you can do this with your assignment.

In part two, I will talk about a much larger and more complex assignment.

My favorite photos from 2014

The Big Day

The Big Day

Every year about this time I like to sit and reflect back all the photos that I shot in the previous year. Of course it is nearly impossible to come up with a single choice and say “this is the best.” So rather than say one photo is better that all others I choose to put them into categories and make a brief statement about the photo.
Of course I will start with my wife. I think this photo of Munn is my favorite of 2014. It was just a quick shot with no real setup. But she was so happy to start her very first real job here in the USA. Although she has worked for our catering business she had never really officially worked anywhere else. The photo was captured just outside in the yard moments before she got in the car.

Model Chloe

Model Chloe

I post photos to the 500px website from time to time and I have learned it is extremely hard to post a photo of a pretty female face and get a score above 90.0, unless you give the photo some sort of strange edit such as overly white eyes or some other in (my opinion) bizarre edit. So this photo of Philadelphia model Chloe received a very high score of 96.2 in less than 24 hours and I might add that it was one of my favorite model shots of the 2014 season.

Happy Pixel 1/1000 sec at f/3.2 ISO 100 200mm

Happy Pixel
1/1000 sec at f/3.2 ISO 100 200mm

Like most people who are photographers and have pets, I too take a lot of photos of my Bichon Pixel or as we usually call her “Pixie.” I loved the back lit structure to the photo.

Street Side Cafe'

Street Side Cafe’

My favorite food shot of 2014 was of food I never even got to taste. While doing a model shoot in Historic section of Bethlehem PA, I was walking with the model from one location to the other and as we walked past a sidewalk café an older couple were just about to dive in to their lunch when I see these sliders the waitress just put down on the table. I stop and engage the couple with a “hi, hey that food looks delicious” and the man who was clearly not happy to see me had a look of horror as if I was going to request a bite of food. The lady on the other hand was very pleasant and I asked if I could just take a single photo of the slider burgers. I actually shot of three quick shots and every time I look at this photo I get hungry. The photo is also nice because it uses the rule of thirds, the rule of odds and has leading lines. But most of all it just looks like you could almost taste those sliders.

Model Reese Maddox

Model Reese Maddox

I love my extreme close up face shots and the shot of model Reese Maddox is just so damn beautiful. Her face is very plain & natural in the photo and it was at the beginning of the shoot. Then add in that creamy green bokeh and the yellow flower in contrast to her striking ebony beauty, it for me, makes a very interesting shot.

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Model/Actress Kendall Strampel

I think my most memorable shot of the season was with teen model Kendall Strampel. It was our first shoot together and it all came together very quickly over the time of a few days. I was running late to the shoot, it was August so it was hot and I meet Kendall and her parents at the location. I for whatever reason under estimated this young lady. I’m thinking “ok teen model with just a little experience and she’ll be very nervous and I’ll have to explain a lot and direct a lot to get any kind of a good pose,” let alone a great pose. At least that is what I thought beforehand and boy was I dead wrong. Although the framing of this shot was off it is my most memorable because it was the very first click of the shutter for the shoot. I said “ok stand here and give me something (a pose).” I received the biggest smile with a hand up that was creating some negative space and a triangular shape to the arm and again while the shot is not perfect, at the moment I looked into the back of the camera and I was sort of dumbfounded… the girl is an amazing model and the whole shoot that day was awesome, her parents are wonderful people and so many great images came that day. When I look at this photo I remember the day I met a very talented young lady.

Kendall Strampel at the gate to the medical ward at Eastern States Penitentiary

Kendall Strampel at the gate to the medical ward at Eastern States Penitentiary

By far my most favorite Photoshop composite is “Krazed Kendall” where we see Kendall in a gas mask behind the locked gate to the medical ward at the famed Eastern States Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The gate was never shot with the intention of ever using it as a background. The shot of Kendall took place a few months later at Lockridge Park. It was the end of the shoot and we wanted to get a little crazy so we brought out the gas mask. Putting it together in Photoshop resulted in this very striking image. Kendall’s dedication to personal health & fitness really makes this shot.

Cigar Break Reese Maddox (model)

Cigar Break Reese Maddox (model)

My favorite for best use of props is Reese smoking the cigar in front of a cigar shop. Love this photo and it too had a huge score over at 500px. The cigar is not real and this was so impromptu, just a spur of the moment and I happened to have a fake cigar.

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Model Amanda Lennon, Hair by Megan Motter

My favorite hair style shot was that of the lovely Amanda. The hairstyle created by hairstylist Megan Motter. I received so many comments about this photo. Also my favorite Glamour style shot too.

Ambré_Stockton_Fashion

Model Ambre Baxter

Although I have many fashion shots this shot that I did in the autumn with the amazing Ambré Baxter was a great shot. And I have to say I wanted the coat off and she said “no it’ll be fine” and how right she was.

The Gate Keepers

The Gate Keepers

My favorite location shot is certainly the Gatekeepers shot from the shoot I did at Eastern States Penitentiary with models Reese & Tishana. The dresses are designed by Owned by Lisa_J of Philadelphia, hair by Its The Gurl B and makeup by TeDara Watts.

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Model Cynthia Ann

And although I worked with many models in 2014 I have to say Cynthia is the most amazing young lady for being able to connect with my mind while shooting. And I say this because it really is almost kind of scary. I’ll think of what I want to tell her to do and as I look up to say the words she is already doing it. Her posing is endless and not repetitious. She comes to a shoot with a personality that turns the shoot into a show of sorts. She is perverted, silly, smart, flirty, professional and a down right amazing model. You come away from the shoot exhausted from laughter.

Gurdy

Gurdy

My most favorite animal shot goes to Gurdy. She is no longer with us. Rest in peace you beautiful creature.

Thai Taxi Ride

Thai Taxi Ride

Best “Street Style” photo was the Thai Taxi Ride.

Ancient Siam City

Ancient Siam City

My favorite Landscape photo for 2014 is this temple shot from Ancient Siam City in Thailand.

I call it the 10,000 mile sunset because that's about how far from home I was when I captured it.

I call it the 10,000 mile sunset because that’s about how far from home I was when I captured it.

My favorite sunset. Siam Bay on Ko Chang, Thailand.

Cobra Village, Thailand

Cobra Village, Thailand

Most favorite action shot.

Angel & Me

Angel & Me

My favorite selfie with my Thai angel at Thepsuda Bridge in Kalasin Thailand. Waiting for that awesome sunset that never came. So we started taking selfies lol.

I was going to stop at ten photos, but I have so many favorites. I encourage everybody to take the time and go back through your photos from 2014 and pick your best and share with your friends. Remember; You need to have a good filing system that works for you so you can always find your special moments when you want them. Today we have cloud services (some free) that let us sync our photos. More and more cameras are coming equipped with WiFi allowing direct uploads. Honestly now is a great time to sit down and organize photos. I did a post on this last year but simply put what works for me is to put all my photos in folders by the date they were shot.

2015 is going to be a great year for my photography I know. Why? Because like last year I set goals and I reached most of them and had a lot of fun along the way. Happy New Year everybody.

 

 

 

 

Personal Photo Favorites From 2013 (I would rather have a selfie of me punching Kim Kardashian in the face but…)

1/250 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 175mm

1/250 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 175mm

So after mulling through all of the better photos I captured in 2013 I wanted to choose some of my favorites to share with you. As I had stated in an earlier post I always have one photo of my wife that will really stand out and be my favorite of the year. I also wanted to include some additional photos as well.

So I really feel that of all the photos I captured of my wife in 2013 this one is my favorite. A little story about the photo; this photo was shot at 5:49pm on July 29th. As you can see the sun in July is still very high in the sky. I had to shoot a wedding in five days and not being a wedding photographer by trade I was doing my homework and preparing for the big day. I wanted everything to be right. I spent a lot of time reviewing video material by Cliff Mautner. Mr. Mautner is one of the best wedding photographers of our time. I say this because part Cliff’s style is to just go and shoot using mostly available light and minimal flash. His style and approach is very organic and not over the top with a “Broadway” like production to shoot a wedding. Also Cliff is a Nikon Ambassador. If company like Nikon is going to trust him with talking about their products… well I think Cliff might know a thing or two or ten about photography.

One of Cliff’s prize techniques is shooting brides in the middle of the day with high sun and no fill flash. So I had to try this technique out for myself. In short the; put your subject between the camera & the sun and use a dark background. That is it that is all you need to do. Then meter with the camera off the subject’s face. Look at the photo and the front lighting is even across my wife’s face with this wonderful rim lighting. If she had been wearing a darker color shirt would have been even nice for the rim light on the shoulders, not to mention that if this was a bridal shot with the veil, the veil would be very nicely back lit with a glow like effect. So to conclude; I walked out the door and captured this shot in about 5 minutes. The color, lighting and smile all come together to make it a very nice photo. I love it and I will print and frame it.

Pixel (aka Pixie) at day 2.  1/640 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm

Pixel (aka Pixie) at day 2.
1/640 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm

My favorite photo of Pixel (aka Pixie) was shot at 11:17am of May 27th at a roadside rest area along route I-78 in Pennsylvania. I had received Pixie for the first time the day before. I had lost my previous Bichon Poo to liver cancer and a mere 20 days later Pixie had come to fill the void and ease the pain of Snuggs rapid departure. So on the second day of having Pixie my wife and I had a road trip planned to visit my father and we just couldn’t leave this little creature home. We stopped to stretch our legs and to let Pixie have some fun. It was our first chance to let here run and be free in the wonderful green grass of the springtime. Using my trusty (you’ll pry it from my cold dead hands) Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM lens I shot this wonderful candid shot. She had been running and moving so fast to & fro it was nearly impossible to get a great shot of her. I made a squeaking sound and she stopped for just a few seconds and looked right at me. I love the photo and after posting to Facebook a friend had commented on the light & dark green background as an adding quality to the photo. She was so right it just gives the photo a “good” feel.

Photoshop composite of NY motocross rider Harlan Hoose.

Photoshop composite of NY motocross rider Harlan Hoose.

My favorite Photoshop image of 2013 would be “Shattered” a composite of a motocross rider that I had captured in the springtime at our local motocross track. His name was Harlan Hoose and he hails from New York State. Harlan and two friends had made the long trek down to Raceway Park in Old Bridge Township just to practice. I happened to be there and Harlan Had asked me if I would capture some images of him. This was one of the first of many photos. In the original photo Harlan was just sitting on his bike waiting to go onto the track and I captured a close up focusing on his eyes. So several months later I used the photo as the main element in a Photoshop composite that I call Shattered. With time I grew to like the image even more. Thank you Harlan it was nice meeting you, Anthony & Jordan that day.

1.1250 sec at f/2.8 ISO 200 200mm

1.1250 sec at f/2.8 ISO 200 200mm

My favorite nature shot would be this photo of the Wild Foxtail Grass. Captured at 4:57pm on October 14th right here on the farm where I live. The contrast in color between the background and subject is what I love most about it. Also it didn’t hurt that it received so much affection on 500px.

Sunken Forest 172 sec at f/22 ISO 50 24mm

Sunken Forest
172 sec at f/22 ISO 50 24mm

My favorite Long Exposure photo is this image of one of the “Sunken Forests” at Merrill Creek reservoir located in Warren County New Jersey on top of Montana Mountain. It was cold and very windy that day, but in the end it paid off because I came home with some really nice images.

American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

My most favorite wildlife shot of 2013 would have to be, hands down the one of the images I captured of an American Bald Eagle. It was amazing to see this beautiful bird right here in the town where I work, a rare sight for sure. The photos are not Nat Geo quality but still my favorite nonetheless.

At The Train 1/1600 sec at f/3.5 ISO 200 200mm

At The Train
1/1600 sec at f/3.5 ISO 200 200mm

My most favorite candid shot of the year was taken at the Flemington train station. I was first trying to capture the expression on the little boy’s face and then in the background a young lady and a child stepped from the train. I re-focused at captured a wonderful candid photo.

Selfie in a jail cell.

Selfie in a jail cell. Sussex County, NJ.

Lastly my most favorite selfie would have to be of me in a jail cell. I would rather have a selfies of me punching Kim Kardashian in the face but I’ll settle for the jail cell shot.

Friends ( personally I do not know anybody, but my Facebook says I do) lol :-P

Photographed this sunset while walking the dog on January 1, 2014. 10,000th photo shot on my Canon 6D

Photographed this sunset while walking the dog on January 1, 2014. 10,000th photo shot on my Canon 6D

So for many years now I have had a personal Facebook page and I have had friends come and go from my friends list. I watched as the list grew to twenty then fifty, seventy and it seemed to hang around seventy for some time. I never felt compelled to make it go higher. I have seen teenage girls and others who have over a thousand friends listed. I asked one this one girl if she really knew all the people on her friends list and she replied very fast “sure I do.” At the moment when I asked her that question we were out at a restaurant with other friends. So I asked her to come over and sit at my side of the table. Using my phone we sat together and started inspecting here friends list and I would ask her “how do you know this person and that person.” I would mostly pick the older males on the list and of the older males we started to see that she knew very few of them. Her mother asking “yeah just how do you know all these men?” She soon admitted that she was guilty of accepting pretty much every friend request that came her way for about 3 years. Reason being “that it looked cool” to have a high amount of friends on your page. Now she is 19 and in college, so I pointed out that it just doesn’t look to cool from another angle. I mean to each “his/her own” I always say, but I always regarded the “Friend” list on Facebook as people I actually personally know. I may not have met them in person, however we do live in an age where we are able to reach around the world and have a personal interaction with someone via webcam, file sharing and chat. After all many of you who know me personally, know I met my wife as a 100% cold contact via Skype and see was 8000 miles away. So each person on my Friends list (currently 233) I have personally interacted with in one way or another at one time in my life and it meant enough to me to add them to my list. Some are people who I may not have known at all and were sent my way by a current friend because they wanted to see photos and that is fine. But then I will soon interact with them commenting on their posts and soon enoughI have a reason to keep them on my list because I find they are interesting in some way. I was just chatting with a photographer friend last night about camera flashes. I have never met him in person but he is a very interesting photographer and posts very nice work. I belong to a private Facebook photo group in Thailand and many of those members are also on my friends list .

So again I never felt I had to go out and find Facebook friends but it just seemed to happen. Will I find 1000 of them? I seriously doubt it, because I don’t want that. So as my photography has evolved and hopefully improved I started up a website, soon followed by this blog page on the website and now comes the next step, the “Reckless Pixel” Facebook page. I have a plan to be a better photographer and a better known photographer, so I have to promote and use more than one cyber avenue. Most of the entire Reckless Pixel page will give me a place to post my photography and let people comment as they always have in the past, only now they do not have to be on my friends list. This keeps my personal Facebook page more personal while letting everybody see my photography.

In closing I would like to thank all the people around the world who read this blog, I am amazed every time I look at the WordPress statistic page and see all the different countries that click on my blog. Same goes for my pages at Adobe’s Behance site and my Twitter. So thanks for looking… and I know there are many viewers out there that never hit the “Like” and never leave a comment, but still enjoy viewing my photography. I know because when I do meet people in-person they will make a comment about a photo they have seen. They didn’t hit “Like” and they never left a comment but I know they seen it. So here we go with something new for 2014 the Reckless Pixel Facebook page.

Happy New Year everybody.

Yongnuo YN560-III Flash (It was a bright flash of light all the way from China)

Yongnuo YN560-III

Yongnuo YN560-III

It was a bright flash of light and it came all the way from China. Funny thing is; it seems most bright flashes of light come from China. I had purchased several Yongnuo YN560-III flash units about two months ago and I have used them in some basic studio work. I had them mounted inside of Westcott soft boxes and I’ll write about that at a later time because I have not finished testing them in a studio setting. However I did for the first time take one YN560-III unit out and used for a full evening of photography at a New Year’s Eve house party that I had the fortune to attend. So yes as the name “Yongnuo” suggests these units are made in China and look very close to a Canon EX580 II flash unit. Canon has ditched the EX580 for the wireless radio technology of the new 600 EX-RT and Yongnuo has somewhat incorporated the radio technology into the new YN560-III. I say somewhat because it does not come close to the 600 EX-RT which can both send and receive radio and the Yongnuo can only receive radio. But I’m not here to talk about the radio part of the flash at this time. I just want to share my experience of using the YN560-III as an on camera unit in a party/event setting. If you are looking for a full review of the unit please look elsewhere.

So here is the basic price breakdown

  • Yongnuo YN560-III $75 at most places on the web.
  • Canon 600 EX-RT about $500 to $550
  • Canon EX430 II $280 to $300

So you can see right off the start what makes this YN560-III so enticing. You can purchase 6 to 7 units for the cost of one Canon 600 EX-RT.

The unit comes very nicely packaged; mine were even wrapped in a heavy plastic/rubber wrapper for the long trip from Asia. But from the moment you open the box you feel that you have a Canon flash, just cheaper. However it feels cheaper too, but this could be a mental thing I’m not sure. Note; don’t even bother with the instruction card, it is 110% useless. Everything seemed to work nice, the battery door opens a lot easier than a Canon unit and most of all the controls for changing power settings are noticeably easier to work, especially for big fingers like mine. If I am working on camera flash with a Canon unit, I find it easier to change the settings via the camera menu rather than fumble with the buttons on the flash unit. But the YN560-III’s buttons work like a dream and that is a big plus because using the buttons is your only option as the Yongnuo’s menu is not compatible with the Canon “in camera” menu. So let’s head out to the party and see how it works on the fly in the real world.

The YN560-III is powered by 4 AA batteries and I used my trusty Eneloop Power X batteries. I shot 376 photos at various power settings ranging from 1/32 power to full power on one set of batteries. Most of the night I bounced between 1/16 & 1/4 power. So I can say it did not use an excess of power and that is a good thing.

Moving between power settings was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I brought my Canon EX430-II just in case I had to ditch the YN560-III because of annoyance, but it seemed very easy to find the power setting I needed when I needed it. Moving between four different areas in the party house meant changing flash power for each location.

And how was the light? Well… that is the best part. The light looked like a flash… it was bright and fast like most light. Seriously though; I have used the Canon 600 EX-RT units and this $75 dollar light was the same as the $500 light. I’m not the first to say that and I won’t be the last, but the light is the same, “light is light.” The light is what you need to make your image and who cares if it comes from a $75 flash with a name you can’t pronounce. Really who cares? My next test will be with the wireless radio functions. So I can’t really explain it; both Canon & Yongnuo are made in China as it seems all stuff is today. There is a huge difference in price between the YN560-III and the Canon EX430-II and for what? The only noticeable difference is the YN560-III uses a plastic twist lock wheel as opposed to the Canon having a slide lock with a safety release. I did notice a little side to side movement when locked tight, but not enough to let the unit come off camera. So that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Happy New Year 2014 (it’s what you “need” to do, not what you “want” to do) Make It A Great Year

New Year 2014 Facebook Cover

So this will be my last blog post of 2013. I still contend that I am the world’s worst blogger, but I hold hopes that 2014 will be a better year for both my blogging and my photography. At this time I am setting goals for 2014, both business & personal. No I am not making any New Year resolutions; I like to call them goals. Somehow that whole “resolution” thing ends up by the wayside about 3 weeks into the New Year. Goals seem more practical, realistic and obtainable. I have in the past achieved goals that I set going into the New Year. Thinking back to 1990 and again in 1996, 1999 & 2000 I really impressed myself with goals I had set and surpassed before years end. It is all about mind set, determination and want. After all I think everyone knows all about determination or the lack of, everyone has read motivational books and or sat through a super charged motivational speech. I know I have. Funny thing is in all the great goals I have accomplished in my life, a book or a speech had very little to do with it. It just seemed I had the mind set to, set out and do whatever it was I was trying to do. And maybe “trying” is the wrong word because “trying” is always a feeling of “ok I’ve had enough” and then you quite. I find it to be more of a “this is what I have to do” feeling, kind of like getting up and shaving and brushing your teeth. Don’t complicate it with books and speeches, just do it and plan to keep on doing it. Of course “life can sometimes rob us of our motivation and cloud our mindset and we end up sitting here blogging or reading about what we need to do. Some goals I have accomplished in the past were weight loss, business achievements, stop smoking and many more. I remember in 1996 I set a goal to ride 1000 miles on my bicycle and like weight loss I kept a journal of all my rides. I rode well over 1000 miles that year and it was not hard at all. That goal by the way was spawned from the fact I had paid almost $1800 for a new bike and although I felt that I really wanted the bike, I also felt I had to justify the purchase. There was a lot of collateral damage from that goal of riding 1000 miles. I lost 86 lbs of body weight. I had never set a goal for weight loss that year, but it happened anyway.  (Funny how that works lol.)

So all I have to say is spread your wings and fly into 2014 with strength and power. Think of what you need to do, not what you want to do. Think about that for a minute, what you need not what you want. Write your goals down, keep track of progress and celebrate those small achievements as you head towards the grand finally. The only real challenge is you lack of wanting what you need and of course the challenge of everyday life. We have all heard it said “don’t let life happen, make life happen.” Happy New Year everybody be safe and well.