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Great photos are born in the camera

We recently merged StayFocusedPress.com with ArnieLee.com. Thus Stay Focused is now part the arnielee website.

We’re all here because we love taking pictures. You’ll find helpful hints and tips for turning your snapshots into gallery quality photographs. These tips are short and right-to-the-point. Our goal is to get it right in the camera.

To search for articles of interest, click on a keyword in tags (sidebar).

You’ll also find articles based on our 50+ years of experience in photography. We happily share our know-how with you so in hopes that you’ll discover new ways to enjoy your picture taking even more.
Note: You can click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Running out of Ink?

15th June 2021

I quickly get tired of using my computer monitor to show others a photo or two. Of course one way to “fix” this is to make prints of these pictures. But this brings up another problem – making a bunch of prints quickly drains my ink cartridges and puts a dent in my wallet too.

A few weeks ago, I saw an advertisement for a printer that uses large, refillable ink tanks. My only hesitation was about the quality of the prints from a relatively inexpensive printer. With a money-back guarantee, I decided to go for it.

Sitting on my computer’s desktop is a folder labeled “To Be Printed”. As I take snapshots or find an interesting image, I drop it into this folder. By the time the printer arrived, I had accumulated close to a hundred images.

Here’s my experience with the Epson Ecotank 2720



The printer itself is quite compact but capable of printing onto 8-1/2″ x 11″ media. I purchased the printer primarily to make smaller prints. Here’s my stack of 4″ x 6″ glossy photo paper.


These are the first couple of prints that I made. Note the initial ink levels on the front of the printer.

During my first session with the new printer, I made about thirty 4″ x 6″ prints.


I found the print quality to be very good for both color and black and white images.

After printing my stack of 100 of so images, the ink levels dropped only slightly.

Epson claims that out of the box the printer includes enough ink for about two years of “normal” printing. My guess is that the ink will not last that long for the type of printing that I intend to do. Refills cost about $50 per set.

To date, I’m happy with this printer which set me back $200. Compared to other ink jet printers this is more costly, but factoring in the significantly lower cost of ink and the sparing me the inconvenience of having to run to the office supply store to get a replacement cartridge, I feel that this was a good purchase.

The printer is “attached” to my computer via wi-fi so there are no cables to worry about. It also doubles as a copier and has a built-in scanner too.


The printer ink is delivered in four containers – cyan, magenta, yellow and black with an additional black container.

Epson claims that they provide enough ink

To My Surprise

A couple of years ago I opened an email from a curator at the Smithonian Institution. Preparations were underway to open their National Museum of African American History & Culture and she was asking for permission to use a photograph that I had taken in 1970.

Let’s go back 45+ years. Then I was a student at the University of Michigan and a volunteer for the University Activities Committee. I was assigned to cover the Martin Luther King Jr memorial concert where the popular Fifth Dimension would perform. I was armed with a press pass and free to move throughout the huge stadium. But I was careful to avoid annoying the audience as I roamed around the stage area to get to different vantage points. And so I took a few dozen rolls of film that evening.

In 1970, as a 20 year-old youngster this was just plain fun for me. Nonetheless it amazes me that an event from long ago resurrected itself so many years later.

Anyway, here are some of the shots from that evening that led to the inclusion of my photo in one of the Smithonian Museums.




This photo has been on display at the NMAAHC of the Smithonian


Billy Davis Jr and Lamonte McLemore

Lamonte and Marilyn McCoo


Florence LaRue and Marilyn McCoo

Ron Townsend


Florence LaRue

Billy Davis Jr


I was able to speak to the group briefly backstage after the concert


And I was lucky enough to get their autographs too.

Using Smaller Frames

On my computer desktop, I have a folder labeled “To Be Printed”.

Every once in a while as I’m editing my photos, I’ll drop a copy of a favorite image into the folder. As the number of images within the folder grow, I feel compelled to make prints and get them up on the wall.

Years ago I realized that I didn’t have to always make huge prints. By printing smaller sizes more photos would see the light of day and keep from setting my wallet back too much.

To make best use of the limited wall space, I started to use sets of identically sized frames. They are light weight with glass or plexiglass to protect the prints and easy to hang.

A few of the favorite photographs get special treatment – they are printed in a larger size.



these are all 4″ x 6″ prints



here is a small section of the wall with three different sizes



these are all 8″ x 8″ prints



these two prints are mounted in larger 16″ x 20″ frames



this single print is 24″ x 36″



So get those images out of your “To Be Printed” folder.

When your “To Be Printed” folder gets filled again, you can simply change the photos.

Remember that you don’t have to think big; smaller sizes make attractive displays.

Same Place – New Face

25th March 2021

Visiting Monument Valley with the Grandkids

I have a habit of revisiting fabulously gorgeous places. Some have a magnetic attraction that just keep me coming back.

Each fall I ferry Mom’s car to Arizona and then back to Michigan in the spring. When I can make the arrangements, I ask one of our grandkids to come along to keep me company and in turn share some wonderful sites with them.

The small town of Kayenta, AZ lies along the route between Phoenix and Michigan. A few miles north of the town along the Arizona/Utah border is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – a most unique and eye-popping location. There you will leisurely drive along the 17-mile dirt road to view a multitude of amazing cliffs, buttes and mesas.

These photos were taken at a spot with with either the iconic West Mitten Butte or Merrick Butte in the distance.



Taken April 2011


Taken July 2014


Taken Nov 2014


Taken Apr 2015


Taken Apr 2018


Taken Apr 2019

The photos are a great way for me to remember this magnificent area. Hopefully the grandkids will recall their visit in years to come.

UnFramed

23rd March 2021

Bringing the Feel of Paris to My Living Room

As the river Seine flows from central France to the English Channel it disects Paris the City of Light. In turn, the river is responsible for the large number of bridges that connect the two sides of the city – known as the left bank and the right bank.

By far, my favorite is the Pont Alexandre III, an elaborately decorated structure with gold colored statues at both ends, intricate sculptures arranged along the width of the arches, black elegant light posts, a generous pedestrian walkway.



I took this photograph of Pont Alexandre III in 2008. Notice how the gold painted sculptures contribute to the bridge’s beauty.


I decided to add a touch of Paris to our home and had the photograph made into a large canvas print. It is a wraparound canvas – the image edges fold over the internal wooden frame to create a simple hanging piece. The canvas print now decorates our living room.



Here’s a close up of that canvas hanging. Its size is 36″ x 24″. You can see that the print closely resembles the original digital image taken in 2008.



Moving even closer to the canvas you can see more of the bridge detail. Despite the rough texture of the canvas print surface the detail remains quite sharp.



From the above photo I enlarged a small section. While you can clearly see the textured surface, you can also see how the print retains its sharp detail.



What’s your favorite vacation spot? You can easily bring your past travels into your home.
Don’t let your photos sit in a proverbial shoe box. Get them out of there and show them to the world.



Zooming In

18th March 2021

Zambriskie Point is of my favorite areas to visit in Death Valley. I am awed by its magnificent landscape created by millions of years of erosion. When climb the steep path from the visitor entrance, you’re immediately greeted by the heavily textured, sandy colored alluvial fans.

This day as I walked up the path I could barely see two people standing on one of the flat areas in the distance. They looked like ants on the rocks. The juxtaposition of the tiny figures against the huge backdrop of these badlands was an interesting view.


 

My equipment was a Sony NEX-7 camera with a medium 18-200mm zoom lens.

This is the image that I captured of the couple.

The EXIF data tells me that the lens was zoomed to 44mm.



 

The above photo was the only one that I took of the couple.

When I viewed the image in my “computer darkroom”, I wanted to see how the scene would look if I had used the zoom feature of the lens. I magically zoomed by cropping the original image.

The result is that the the couple and the rocky landscape show up in much more detail.

Which one do you preferr?



While I like both images, I prefer the zoomed in version. This is an example of composing your image after the fact.

Fisheye On The Cheap

14th March 2021

A few years ago I upgraded from a Sony NEX7 to the newer Alpha 6000.

The A6000 became my everyday walk around camera. But I didn’t want to let the NEX7 collect dust, nor did I want to spend a lot more investing in more glass.

The one drawback is that this lens is manual aperture control and manual focus but I decided that I could live with these limitations.


 

So I started looking for an inexpensive lens. My preference was to go wide so I did a little looking around and found an affordable 8mm fisheye. I’m a fan of the way the images are elegantly distorted by lens’ curvature. The lens adds lots of interest to common everyday scenery and subjects.

The lens I chose is the 8mm Rokinon fisheye for about $300.

When the 8mm lens is coupled on the camera’s APS-C sensor it is equivalent to a 12mm full frame lens.

To use the lens, I set the camera to Auto ISO and using the manual exposure mode (M) rotate the aperture ring on the lens to a specific aperture (f/stop) and dial the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is centered.


Measuring about 3″ long and weighing just a few ounces, it is miniscule compared to the two other DSLR fisheyes in my equipment stable. The Rokinon 8mm has a well-marked aperture ring, smooth focus ring, a small built-in sunshade and lens cap that total covers the outer lens surface. I am very happy that when mounted, my fisheye camera is very compact and easy to carry.

 

The important question is how does this inexpensive fisheye perform?

I’ve taken hundreds of photos with the 8mm. I’ve found that the images are tack sharp. The resolution of the NEX-7 is 24MP and with this lens I’ve made several 16″ x 20″ enlargements including three below.


roaming through the cypress groves in the Everglades

amazed at the super bloom in Death Valley

viewing part of Mammoth Hot Spring in Yellowstone

a very wide view of the front porch on our house

The compact size of this camera/lens combination makes it a great way to have a tag along camera and use it for the wide views without having to change lenses.

For many excursions, I carrythree cameras: this fisheye combo, a second with a long lens telephoto (80-400mm) for wildlife and a third with a medium zoom (24mm to 200mm) – all without breaking my back with the weight. In the case of the 8mm fisheye lens, I have a winner at a very decent price.

Having done a little looking around, I know that there are other inexpensive fisheye lenses available for all of the major brand cameras. If you too like the interesting effects that the come from the ultra curved lens surface you’ll be able to find a fisheye to add to your camera bag.

Snapshots

20th February 2021

 

I’ve taken an awful lot of photos over the years – some were for professional purposes, some as obligatory family responsibilities (wedding, birthdays, etc.) and some (many, many, many) for my own pleasure.

 

In this last category are a group that I consider fun photos. I’ve put a large number of them into my snapshot gallery.

 

I’m happy to share them with you so please click here and I’ll take you to see them.

Gallery Goes Live

19th February 2021

I’ve completed major changes to my Fine Art Gallery to organize and make it easier to navigate

My portfolio is quite large so I will continue to add new photographs to seven albums as time permits.

Why not take a few minutes to visit my photo Fine Art Gallery.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside

10th February 2021

Eating During Covid


 

For a year now, we’ve all been dealing with the Covid pandemic. This deadly virus has affected almost all of our activities – work, school, travel, shopping – just about everything.

To combat this disease, we’ve been asked to change our habits. As a result businesses had to drastically change their operations or close altogether to comply with government mandated health rules.

Being involved with restaurants, I’ve watched closely as the food service industry has responded to forced dining limits or closures. In many localities, on-premise dining was prohibited so many restaurants started or increased take-out and/or delivery service. Some places allowed outdoor patio dining as long as the establishment’s seating arrangement allowed for social distancing.

As the weather turned colder, the popularity of outdoor dining dropped so restauranteurs looked for other ways to keep customers coming back.

Below you can see some of the clever ways that are used to keep winter outdoor dining safe and warmer.



These transparent igloos are spaced about ten feet from one another. Seating capacity is limited by local rules. Each has its own lighting and space heaters to keep patrons comfortable.





This tent has a slightly higher profile. Again the seating capacity is determined by local rules.





This classic delivery truck has been converted into a luxury, private winter dining area. The inside was cheerfully decorated for the Christmas holiday.





With snow outdoors, the small space heater keeps the interior warm. Patrons continue to wear their outdoor clothing but are protected from the elements as they dine.





The greenhouse structure and the ice fishing tent are other ways that restaurants have tried to accommodate customers during the cold weather.






We’re hearing that this pandemic will most likely be with us until Fall 2021. But until the warmer months arrive, many restaurants will continue to look for innovative ways to keep customers coming back.
 

 



 

 

 

 

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