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JUST FOR FUN

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Comedy Central

©2016 CRAIG LITTEN

The Wedding Photo Booth

 

The only thing more fun than a barrel of monkeys is a wedding photo booth

This past weekend I attended a family wedding in Sarasota's beautiful Selby Gardens, and took along my trusty Sony a6000 with the Sony FE 28mm f2 lens. I love this combination because it's so small, light and a joy to carry around and shoot with. I spent some time shooting the hilarity on the dance floor (trying hard to stay out of the way of the official photographer), but I also camped outside the photo booth. The photo booth had a large bright light in the front just above the camera that was always on whether the curtain was open or closed. It was like a giant softbox, and it produced marvelous light. It was especially noticeable in the very dark outdoor location of the wedding lit only by a few bulbs hanging overhead. As subjects entered the booth facing the camera, I was able to grab a few images right before the attendant closed the black curtain, capturing a few fun moments. I was also trying to stay out of the way of the second attendant, so I wasn't able to hang out there very long. The activity outside the booth, where people were trying on different hats and props, was also interesting but too dark to shoot. So next time you're at a wedding, gravitate towards the photo booth--that's were all the great photo ops will be.


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Palm Beach Sony Mirrorless Workshop

Photo by Greg Burnett/iPhone 6s

Look Mom, No Mirrors!

We held our first annual (hopefully) Sony Alpha Mirrorless Camera Workshop here in Palm Beach Co., Florida this past weekend, and above is a picture of the gear. If anyone is interested in switching to Sony mirrorless, learning more about their Sony mirrorless camera, or street photography CONTACT US HERE.


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O-U-T-T-A-K-E-S

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

The Best of 2015

Sometimes your best photographs aren't your best photos. In other words, sometimes the photo that you're striving for may please your client or editor, but it's not the best photo on the roll so to speak, such as this gallery below. I consider these photographs to be OUTTAKES for the most part, or more specifically, special outside observances while on assignment, or even more specifically: good old-fashioned snapshots of things I thought were cool ;-)


©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

The Year of Sony & Zeiss

I sold old all of my camera gear and completely switched to Sony Mirrorless Cameras and Zeiss and Sony lenses in 2015, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. I have also influenced many others too, directly or indirectly, to switch (from another brand) and/or purchase about 18 different Sony cameras, and at least a dozen lenses. It's been a lot of fun, but I don't get paid a penny by Sony to refer photographers to Sony cameras. I do it because they are simply the best, and a blast to shoot with.

I make my full-time living with photography using Sony mirrorless cameras, shooting in 2015 for such clients as HBOSun Bum and City Furniture. Below is a list of the gear that I used for the photos in this post, and the selected photos where shot in every month of 2015 except June.

Cameras Used

Sony a7s

Sony a7r

Sony a7II

Sony a6000

Lenses Used

Sony E 20mm f2.8 Pancake

Zeiss Batis 25mm f2

Zeiss Touit 32mm f1.8

Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8

Sony E 50mm f1.8

Zeiss FE 55mm f1.8

Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8

Sony FE 70-200 f4 G

Aperture Range

f1.8 - f8

ISO Range

ISO 64 - 3200


(click on photos to view full sized)


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Lava Cake

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

YUM!

1 chocolate box cake + corresponding ingredients
1 package of pudding + corresponding ingredients
Some semi sweet chocolate chips
Optional: vanilla ice cream.

Mix chocolate box cake and pour into slow cooker. Then mix box pudding and layer on top of cake mix. Sprinkle as many chocolate chips on top as you like. Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours. Enjoy on it’s own or with vanilla ice cream.
— Lava Cake

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GEEEE

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS

oh, and the Sony a6000 if you look closely enough ;-)


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O-U-T-T-A-K-E-S

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

I almost deleted this photo, but I'm glad that I decided to import it into Lightroom. In camera I was shooting in the B&W mode so that the color didn't distract my test, but I was shooting RAW+JPEG and the raw file retained the color data. What I was doing was a flash comparison between the Nissin i40 and a rented Sony HLV-F43M. During this test I was using the Sony a6000 with the Zeiss Touit 32mm f1.8 lens (this photo) and the Sony a7II with the Zeiss Batis FE 25mm f2 lens, and getting as close to my subject (just stuff around the house) as I could to see if the flash would blow it out. Both flashes did very well actually and seemed fairly equal. I rarely if ever shoot flash but rented the Sony for the fun of it to shoot an event at my church that I knew would be very dark.

To me this photo is really fun, and in this case, the color makes the picture. The fan in the right lens reminds me of a palm tree, the basket makes me think of a picnic basket, the paper junk mail coupon resembles a tablecloth and the glasses sunshine. You have to use your imagination, but all of these elements make this photo work as a photograph. Photography is all about imagination isn't it? Lesson learned: Don't delete photos!


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Pigeon Forge

For the Joy of Photography

Sometimes a change in scenery is needed for photographic inspiration, or sometimes we just need to change our gear. Yep, new camera gear can motivate us for sure, but that's not what I mean really. I'm talking about a different type of camera gear, mirrorless. This time last year (2014), I began my journey with the Sony mirrorless system. Several years prior, I literally bought and tried every brand of DSLR and mirrorles cameras except Panasonic. But to keep this short, I won't go over that right now. I love the Sony mirrorless system. It's not perfect, but no system is as they all have their positives and negatives. But the Sony's are FUN! Yep, that's right, fun. Isn't photography supposed to be fun? That's why so many people do it isn't it? I found that hauling around my antiquated, clunky DSLR's was no longer enjoyable. In fact, it was work. I remember when the Canon 10D came out--it was revolutionary, 6MP and all. It was small, fast and...fun. But using a DSLR's today feels like work, and when you start to discover and use all the new tech that the Sony mirrorless cameras bring, well, you won't look back.

If you make your living shooting weddings, or portraits or architecture or any other type of photography, do you still allow yourself to take pictures on your days off? Or are those big "pro" cameras just too, well, big and pro to carry along when you're not getting paid? Do take your camera along when you go out with family or friends? How about during your lunch hour? Yea, the sarcasm is getting thick, but I'm trying to make a point here. How do you feel after a 12-hour shoot? Me? One word: Refreshed, LOL! Seriously, this past May I did a 19-hour shoot (crazy I know). I was tired, I was hungry, I couldn't wait for the shoot to end, but I never once felt the burden of my cameras. I was shooting with a Sony a7r paired with the Zeiss 55mm f1.8, and a Sony a7s paired with the Zeiss 35mm f2.8. Boom, done!

Do you still have fun shooting?

A good friend of mine, who has been shooting as long as I have (since the 80's), recently dumped his clunky, old Nikons in favor of Sony mirrorless (at my persuasion of course). His weapons of choice were a pair of a6000's and three lenses. He loves them so much that he now takes pictures when not working--in other words, for fun. And yes, he does make his full-time living with photography--the a6000 is that good.

Another very good friend is a wedding photographer. He started by purchasing a Sony a6000 and the tiny Sony 20mm f2.8 pancake lens to use for street photography (also at my persuasion). He loved it so much that as soon as the current wedding season ends, he's dumping his anachronistic (yes, I used a thesaurus) Canon gear in favor of a pair of Sony a7's (A7rII and a7sII) plus an arsenal of Zeiss lenses. He has already acquired an a7rII and the Zeiss 35mm f2.8. Sweet!

So the bottom line is this: Do you still have fun shooting? If not, why not? I do, and I've had a camera in my hands since 1985 (not literally the whole time though, I do have to sleep), and I now have Sony to thank for it (the fun, not the camera--I had to buy that). The above two photos are just snapshots, not portfolio pieces or masterpieces, taken during my lunch hour. I was shooting simply for the love of photography. That day I had in my hand the trusty, and super fun, Sony a6000 paired with a friend's Zeiss 16-70 f4 zoom. That day I was shooting just for the sheer joy of photography. Can I persuade you too?


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SAY "CHEESE"

Checking for Sharpness

Testing the Leica 90MM f/2.8 Elmarit-M

After growing weary on waiting for the shiny new Zeiss Batis FE 85mm f/1.8 lens, I started to consider other options. After a few days of testing my Sony a7s and Sony a6000 in manual focus mode with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8, I decided that pulling focus manually is pretty easy with Sony's focus peaking function--especially on the A7-series cameras, so I started to look elsewhere for a lens. The only real considerations for me were rangefinder lenses because of their compact size and extremely high quality. This lead me to examine what both Leica and Zeiss had in their lens lineup because I will need a high quality, modern lens for commercial use. The only offering Zeiss had worth considering was a Contax G-series lens from the old film G1 and G2 rangerfinder bodies (I owned a G2 years ago, and it's still on my list of top six or seven favorite cameras I've owned dating back to the mid '80s). The problem with the Contax lenses is that they do not have a manual focus ring because they were auto focus only lenses. Secondly, the adapters for these lenses are fairly expensive, and the autofocus performance is hit or miss depending on the camera that you own. The focus is also the old-fashioned, bone-jarring screw drive type.

This narrowed it down to Leica lenses, so I began to research Leica's 90mm lenses to determine which one is best for my needs. Because all Leica lenses are top notch, the first criteria on my list was small size. Probably the smallest Leica 90mm is the current 90mm macro which is far too expensive for me, but also too slow (it's an f/4 lens) for my needs. It's a really interesting lens though. Leica also has another 90mm f/4 (no longer in production) that is very small, but again, it's too slow for my needs. I then moved on to the f/2.8 (Elmarit) Leica 90m lenses. There are two that I liked, the Leica Tele-Elmarit-M 90mm f/2.8 and the Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8, the one pictured above, and the one I finally settled on. The Tele-Elmarit is tiny, and it's a wonderful lens, but I couldn't find a good copy of it. The few that I did find were well-worn and priced higher than I was willing to pay. Also, I wanted a "Made in Germany" version. Made in Germany lenses are not better than made in Canada versions, but I just prefer them for aesthetic reasons dating back to photography school and the dream of owning a Leica. Most of what I was finding were the "Made in Canada" versions. Secondly, I favor the slide-out lens hood on the "standard" Elmarit that I ended up purchasing. The other version is indeed smaller, but when you add a lens hood it also adds bulk and one more thing to deal with.

When the lens arrived, I already had a fairly good idea of how large it would be, and there were no surprises there because the Internet is full of photos. But what the Internet cannot do is "show" you how dense and heavy a lens is, or what it feels like in your hand. This lens is currently out of production, so finding specs on it was more difficult, and I never even considered the that it might be heavy. I've only owned two other Leica lenses (both Summarits), and they were very small albeit solid and dense as all Leica lenses are. I had forgotten this. I've you've never held a Leica lens, I think you'll be surprised when you do. Therefore, when I first picked up my 90mm Elmarit, I was simply amazed at the weight. This lens, although small, is a beast. If someone blindfolded you and handed it to you, you'd be tempted to think they handed you a solid block of lead. No kidding, it's that dense.

So far I'm loving the lens! It's in absolute mint condition, I got it for a good price and I'm only the second owner so I feel blessed. Manually focusing is super easy on the Sony a7s and A7r, but during my initial tests I had more out-of-focus images that I suspected. When taking the photos I really thought that I nailed 100% of them--I'm so arrogant! Well, I didn't but I think as I practice I will improve and get a higher percentage of sharp images. It's amazing how short my memory is. When I started in photography, auto focus lenses weren't even invented yet. And while working at my first newspaper, I remember shooting sports with a manual focus lens and praying that I'd get a few in focus and keep my job.

I still have the Zeiss Batis FE 85mm f/1.8 on pre-order (for over two months now), and will still want to test it out to decide between it and my Leica 90MM f/2.8 Elmarit-M. I know that I already prefer the look and the size of the Leica lens to the Zeiss Batis. The Zeiss lens simply looks huge, takes a 67mm filter and has a bulky lens hood. 

The danger in owning such a beautiful piece of Leica glass is the growing desire to purchase anther Leica M digital body. My current first choice: The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246), and it's Roger's fault.


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WANTED

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

©2015 CRAIG LITTEN

...On at Least 3 Continents

(Europe, North America, Asia & probably Australia)

If you see this man, RUN! He will be sporting his signature chrome Leica camera (notice it looks old-fashioned to throw you off because you think he’s a harmless old guy shooting film), dark sunglasses, a modish hat and a voguish mustache while always stylishly dressed. If you dwell in an urban environment, you are not safe - lest you end up being “shot” while innocently going about your day. Last spotted in Miami.


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Merry Christmas

Down on the Farms

Christmas at The Farms, Jupiter, Fla.


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