It gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of my second blog, Victorian Viewfinder, the FREE photography guide to Victoria, Australia.
Whereas Jason Green’s Photography Blog is a collection of articles about art and photography in general, Victorian Viewfinder offers accurate informational guides to finding the best landscape and nature photography locations around the state of Victoria.
I have launched with a post about the derelict jetties at The Dell at Clifton Springs on the Bellarine Peninsula, so check it out today at http://victorianviewfinder.wordpress.com/
As much as I love my Cokin ND Grad filters and see them as one of the best investments I have made in my camera bag, I was disappointed to find that Cokin have not published any information on the topic of cleaning and maintaining their filters. Furthermore, there is very little information available on the topic around the net. Given that the filters are the most exposed pieces of equipment in a photo shoot, and often come home covered in dust or sea spray, I think such instructions are vital to their ongoing usability… so here I am, publishing the process that I use to clean my Cokin filters.
Naturally, this blog post comes with the usual disclaimer: it is purely an informational account of the process that I use to clean my Cokin filters, is totally unofficial, and of course, I accept no responsibility for any damage that may occur to your filters if you follow this process.
With that out of the way, the process is simple really:
- Fill a large bowl with warm water and a squirt of dishwashing detergent;
- Place filters in the bowl one-by-one;
- Wipe gently with a soft cloth;
- Stand filters on the bench for a while to drip dry;
- When dry, breathe on each side of the filter and polish with a soft, dry cloth;
- Place filters in protective cases and return to my camera bag.
This simple process has worked well for me without showing any signs of damaging the filters themselves. I have heard of others going out and spending their hard-earned cash on special cleaning fluids and so on, but I haven’t found it to be necessary… I’d much rather save my money for the next investment in my camera bag or for petrol to get me on location for more landscape photography.
If anybody has more effective methods for cleaning their Cokin filters, I’d love to hear them!
With a title like “Picking Numbers”, it sounds like this blog post should be about winning the lottery… but it’s actually about setting up your telephone services for maximum marketing potential, an important concept for all freelancers (photographers included).
Given the rich feature list available in VoIP services such as Skype these days, I can’t fathom why anybody still bothers with traditional landlines, particularly in lieu of the advent of naked DSL Internet connections. While I was setting up a new Skype account for my freelance photography services and adding a SkypeIn number a few minutes ago, I was impressed with a new SkypeIn feature: the ability to search for available phone numbers containing a preferred string of digits.
I searched for strings of digits based on certain letter combinations (for example, 746867 for PHOTOS, 527664 for JASONG and 547336 for JGREEN) to no avail. If you can find a string of digits that match up with letters that are meaningful and memorable for your business, lock it in and secure as soon as possible! Potential clients will remember a word much more easily than a string of seemingly random numbers, opening up a whole new world of telephone leads and conversions to you.
As I said previously though, I was unable to find a suitable number using the method above. So I got to thinking about what makes certain phone numbers more memorable than others, and I realised that repetition and sequences are the two key elements that help us remember otherwise random numbers. Fortunately, I was able to combine both of these elements by searching for the sequence “123”, which returned the result +61 3 9005 8123 in my area code! Hopefully the fact that I was able to memorise this number instantly indicates that others will be able to as well.
Having selected a memorable phone number, setting up an effective VoiceMail message was the next thing that needed to be done. Given that this phone number was going to be used only for my freelance photography business, I decided that the message needed to be a little more in-depth than the kinds of messages we hear on personal answering machines. I considered that there were three key elements that needed to be included: my identity, a tag line and a call to action. The identity was simple, and the call to action was obvious. The tag line took a little more work, and I had fun wrapping it into the reasoning for not answering the phone. In the end, I came up with the following:
“Thank you for calling Jason Green Photography! Jason’s out and about taking the next perfect picture at the moment. Please leave your name, number and a brief message so that he can call you back as soon as possible.”
Notice how it remains short, succinct and to-the-point, but packs so much more marketing potential than the typical “I’m not here, leave your name and number after the beep” style of message!
Rather than introducing myself with the typical “Hi, I’m a freelance photographer from Melbourne, Australia who is interested in landscapes and portraiture” blog post, I thought I would start off by setting the scene for the future of my blog by giving you a guided tour of my camera bag…
At the core of every photographer’s camera bag is, of course, the camera itself. In my case, it’s a Canon EOS 450D (it was previously an EOS 350D, and before that it was a film-based EOS 50). It has enough megapixels to generate fairly large prints in fine detail, and I don’t know how I ever lived without the LiveView functionality!
A camera is pretty useless without lenses, so I’ll cover them next. I’m carrying around two Canon kit lenses at the moment: a Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS lens is my prime, while a Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS lens is my zoom. I have been finding lately that I very rarely use the latter (even for portraiture), as I have been focusing on “getting up close and personal” with my subjects. Maybe I would use the zoom lens more often if I had some extension tubes to go with it.
The Cokin P-series filter system has proven to be one of my best investments in photography to date! With only three filters (the soft-edged P121 gradual neutral density filters providing 1-stop, 2-stops and 3-stops of light adjustment), my landscape photography has reached a whole new level of professionalism. In fact, when I look back at the landscapes I shot before purchasing these filters, I realise just how amateur I was back then!
I also carry around a Canon SpeedLite 430EX flash unit, but it generally just takes up space in my camera bag because I prefer to capture natural, ambient light wherever possible. That said, there are certain subjects that often can’t be captured nicely using the available light (animals and children are two subjects that come to mind), and this easy-to-use flash unit is a lifesaver when such opportunities come along.
There’s also a Canon RS60-E3 wired remote shutter release floating around somewhere. Extremely useful piece of equipment, and I have been frustrated to have to shoot without it since it decided to go for a swim recently. Not to worry… it’s time to upgrade to a wireless remote shutter release, which would be far more useful than its wired equivalent.
The rest of my camera bag is filled up with the usual array of cleaning equipment and other random bits and pieces, so I’ll finish up with one more essential item that is too large to fit in there with the rest: my tripod! Thanks to my brother’s generosity last Christmas, I now carry around a Manfrotto 190XB tripod with an 804RC2 ball head. Compared with the tripods that I used to own, the Manfrotto has offered me an amazing reduction in camera shake and, like the Cokin filters, has given me the opportunity to get “the perfect picture” more often.