Light, Composition & Design with Gary Faye

Please join us at Camera West in Rancho Mirage for a motivating seminar of inspirational picture ideas.

This monthly workshop will explore how pictures are made with more impact, drama and expression. We will consider many successful image examples of people, still life and the great outdoors. You will unleash your creativity by becoming more aware of light, graphic design, perspective, tension, mood, color and controlling these various elements.

This casual presentation is appropriate for all levels of photographers. There will be time for open conversation, questions and refreshments. Please RSVP early as each monthly session will be limited to just 12 participants.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 7-9 PM.

Cost is $50. per person.

Please call or email Camera West Rancho Mirage for more info or to sign up.


Painting With Motion

Self Portrait on the American River : 4 seconds with a 6 stop ND filter - Photo by Michael Maloney

You’ve all seen those photographs, usually of a waterfall or a stream where the water becomes a beautiful ribbon of silky smoothness. Those images are created using long exposures. I like to call the process painting with motion because the combination of a slow shutter speed and moving water creates a flowing, painterly effect to the water.

If you are shooting on overcast days, in deep shade, in the evening, or even at night, you can easily get your shutter speeds down to produce that coveted silky look. Use the lowest ISO your camera will allow and stop your lens down to f22 or so and you’re set. But what do you do on those bright sunny days where you can’t get a shutter speed slower than 1/60th of a second?

This is where neutral density filters (ND) come in handy. They are basically sunglasses for your lens, reducing the amount of light that hits your film or sensor. The neutral refers to the lack of color shift. ND filters can also be used to reduce the depth of field in very bright light allowing you to shoot at wide open apertures such as f1.4 to turn your background into a creamy smoothness.

There are two types of ND filters, circular and square. Circular filters are quick and convenient, however if you have a variety of lenses each with a different filter diameter you need to purchase multiple filters or purchase the largest diameter filter and buy step up rings. The 4 x 4 inch square filters can be used on most lenses as wide as 16mm and you only need one. The disadvantage is that you need to buy a filter holder, plus an adapter ring for each different filter diameter lens you own.

Neutral density filters come in a variety of light blocking strengths from 1 stop up to 10 or even more. If you were to purchase just one, I recommend a 6 stop. With it, even on a bright sunny day, you can bring your shutter speed down to as slow as 1 second or less. I like to carry a 3 stop, 6 stop and a 10 stop filter which allows me more shutter/aperture control in all types of light.

Determining exposure is easy. If your camera can see through your filter to auto focus, then you just focus & meter as normal. But if your ND filter is so strong that you cannot auto focus then you need to compose your image, focus, and take a meter reading at your chosen aperture before putting your ND filter on. You then simply reduce the shutter speed by whatever strength nd filter you want to use, remembering of course to first turn off auto focus.

For example, if you determine the exposure of your scene to be 1/60 sec at f22 without a filter and you want to use a 6 stop ND, you simple slow the shutter down by a factor of 6 which puts the correct shutter speed at 1 second at the same aperture, f22.

You can also purchase apps for your smart phone that will factor all of this for you. My favorite is called LongTime Exposure Calculator:  It is free, however works only on iOS 3.1 or later devices, but there are other apps available for android users. ND Calc looks to be a good one :

Here at Camera West, we stock Heliopan, Rodenstock , Lee and Hitech filters and accessories. Stop by and we can help you pick the right filter for you.

Two second exposure with a 6 stop ND filter - American River - Photo by Michael Maloney

Two second exposure with a 6 stop ND filter - Bridalveil Creek, Yosemite - Photo by Michael Maloney

8 second exposure at dusk - Rodeo Beach - Photo by Michael Maloney

In a related blog post, see how I got rid of hundreds of cars and pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge in one very long exposure :

Also, note that I am leading a long exposure photo walk in February where we will photograph the waterfalls in Marin County. Details here :

Michael Maloney is a sales associate, instructor and photo walk guide for Camera West Walnut Creek. After a 37 year career as a photojournalist, ( 30 years at the San Francisco Chronicle ) Michael still gets out to shoot most weekends concentrating primarily on landscapes.

New IR Remote from Sony

Sony has announced the RMT-VP1K IR, a new remote commander & IR receiver kit for all Sony cameras with a multi terminal. The IR has a dependable range of 35’ for shutter, video, and zoom controls and will be available next month for $69.99.

Features :

  • Remote Shutter Release
  • Video Start and Stop
  • 3-Channel Position
  • 360° IR Receiver
  • Time Code Reset, Multi Camera Shooting
  • For All Sony Cameras w/ Multi Terminal
  • Runs on 2 “AAA” batteries

A Visit to the Brewery: Shot Exclusively on the Leica D-Lux 109

The D-Lux 109

It is so easy for us photographers and filmmakers to get carried away with the tools we use rather than getting carried away with the subject matter we are pursuing. I used to regularly shoot Canon DSLRs, Sony cine type cameras and the occasionally RED camera. Sometimes I still use those tools. Are they amazing tools? ABSOLUTELY, but they can slow things down, require extensive rigging, and more times than not they can dampen the aura of a moment. In the work I typically do I am shooting on the fly and trying to capture moments that are not staged. When I point a camera at a person, and they see me I don’t want to disturb them. I also have to get shots while remaining unnoticed, which requires minimal rigging.

I have never encountered a camera that was so capable at taking amazing pictures, and filming than the Leica D-Lux 109.  Per square inch the D-lux 109 packs more power than any other camera. The D-Lux is phenomenal!

My recent visit to the Coachella Valley Brewing Company presented the perfect opportunity to get some spectacular black and whites. I recently visited there, and the only camera I had on me was the D-Lux 109. So, I immediately got to shooting some shots around the brewery and then switched to free handing some 4k shots on the fly. The ability to pull a camera out like that and start shooting some really incredible material was extremely liberating!! 

Not only is the D-Lux inconspicuous, and readily available, but it is also has a GREAT lens. I Love the f1.7 @24mm and the macro mode. The lens is sharp at all focal lengths and apertures. 

Honestly the 4k out of the camera is just outstanding. Below is a frame I pulled out of the video once I had finished grading. Again, this not a photograph, this is one frame of video! I could make a nice print of this frame if I wanted to.

4k frame

The video has low compression at 100mbps @4k 24fps, and since this is a Leica camera (yes, I know they aren’t made in Wetzlar) the color is lovely.  Now, I don’t appreciate 4k for the immense amount of resolution it gives me, but rather for increase in bit rate, grading opportunities as well as reframing capabilities. The D-Lux’s settings do require some tweaking to shoot serious video. I messed with the Gamma curves to get a in camera flat-ish profile, and there are a few other oddities that are required to get the camera from being a “stills” camera to being somewhat of a cine camera. Below is a piece I shot in about 10-15 minutes, all by hand with nothing but my D-Lux 109.

I plan to use the D-Lux 109 for a lot more than just personal projects in the near future. I plan to use it in a couple up coming documentary films I will be heading up. The D-Lux will not simply be used as a B or C camera but as my primary camera. The 4k is absolutely lovely out of this camera and so is the color. Convenience, and great color when paired with a outstanding lens, and nice 4k for 1080 or 2k downscaling makes for the right tool for the job.


About the Author: Ben Carpenter is a photographer and filmmaker originally from the Midwest. Ben now resides in the Coachella Valley where he works as a sales representative at Camera West Rancho Mirage. Ben shoots a variety of films ranging from wedding and commercial films to documentary films in the southern California region. He also enjoys leading a variety of workshops at our Rancho Mirage store.

New Ultra Wide from Tamron

Tamron has announced the world’s first full frame ultra-wide-amble zoom lens with image stabilization. The Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC is a state-of-the-art lens design featuring an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element and eBAND Coating for outstanding detail and performance from the center to the edges of the frame over the entire zoom range.

Key features :

  • USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) for high torque, high precision, and virtually silent autofocus action.
  • Enhanced sharpness with exclusive VC image stabilization when shooting handheld in low light
  • 9 Circular diaphragm blades
  • Minimum aperture : F/22
  • 18 elements in 13 groups
  • Minimum focus distance of 11 in.
  • Maximum magnification Ratio of 1:5
  • Length for Canon 5.7in. / for Nikon 5.6in.
  • Weight : 38.8 oz.

The lens will be available with Canon and Nikon mounts on January 30 and will retail for $1199. The Sony mount version release date will be announced at a later date.