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Scotty Alan Photography

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Black and White On Both Sides

Here are a couple of images that I recently made that will be in “Black and White On Both Sides” which is a book I will be publishing later this summer. I have really enjoyed playing with lighting over the last several years. I really like high contrast and low key black and white imagery. I decided to take on a project that consisted of nothing but just that.

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The above image was created with a speed light placed directly behind the subject.

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The above images was made using a speed light inside of an octabox to camera left.

Olympus Stylus Infinity

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So this little camera pack a good-sized punch for a point and shoot camera. I previously did a blog on the Minolta Hi Matic AF 2 and said that it was one of my favorite point and shoot cameras. This Olympus is right up there with the Minolta. This was the second camera that I brought with me to San Diego our wedding / honeymoon trip. I shot around 6 rolls with this camera and focus hit nearly every shot.

This camera has a 35mm F3.5 lens, which isn’t super fast but isn’t too terribly bad either. There is a f2.8 version as well but I don’t know if I can justify the cost different in the two cameras. I did not run into a situation the whole time on the trip where I thought I needed a faster lens. The camera has multiple flash settings including turning it off. One downside to the camera is that when you turn off the flash and then turn off the camera and then turn the camera back on, the flash is automatically set to auto mode again. I’d rather the flash be set to off by default. The camera feels very good in the hands and is small enough to fit in a front pocket in your jeans. Everything about this camera is automatic (except being able to control the flash functions). I do like the fact that this camera can read film DX codes and can shoot faster films than ISO 400 and ISO 800. When you are finished with the roll of film the camera also automatically rewinds the film for you too. Two other features worth mentioning are the tripod socket on the bottom and the self timer mode.

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The only downside that I can think of with this camera is the flash being turned on auto automatically when the camera is turned on. Overall this camera is almost the perfect point and shoot for just about any situation. I bought this camera for $15 and have seen them being sold for $30 and even a little more. This camera is well worth the purchase if you are looking for an all around film point and shoot and can deal with the flash function.

Cons:

  • Some might say the f3.5 lens compared to the f2.8
  • focus is a smidge slower than I would like but definitely not a deal breaker
  • The flash function

Pros

  • very very compact
  • very nice sharp lens
  • auto rewind
  • reads DX codes
  • can be had for a great price

Minolta Hi Matic AF 2

In late 2016 / early 2017 I took this camera (along with the Olympus Stylus Infinity) on my wedding / honeymoon trip to San Diego, California. I must say I was quite pleased with the results of both cameras. I will do a review on the Olympus as well.

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The Minolta Hi Matic AF 2 is a funny little camera. It has manual wind and rewind and just about everything else is auto. The shutter speed, aperture, and focus is all auto and only auto. There are no manual overrides. The only other option the user can manually control is the ISO, which goes from 50 to 400. The viewfinder is nice and bright. The camera feels good in the hands. There is a switch that turns on the flash when desired. One other option that the camera has is a self timer. Oh, and I almost forgot… There is a tripod socket on the bottom. During my trip I shot around 6 rolls of 24 exposure film with this camera and I think I MAYBE had 1 or two frames where I missed focus. I must say, I was quite pleased with the results.

Cons:

  • Some might say the manual wind and rewind but that does not bother me
  • I wish the ISO went up to 1600 or at least 800

Pros:

  • Feels great in the hands
  • Great build quality. Built in Japan
  • Awesome… Sharp… lens
  • flash can be turned on or off by the user
  • great battery life

The Vivitar 283 and Vivitar 285 Flash

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Two flashes that have been around for a long time are the Vivitar 283 and 285. Introduced in the 80’s and 90’s and used throughout the 90’s until today. These two flashes have withstood the test of time even in the digital era. Some of you may have heard of these flashes, some of you may not. But these are some of my favorites to use for various reasons.

The Vivitar 283 was introduced first in the 80’s I believe. This flash is probably one of the most basic and simple flashes to use. This flash has 5 settings which are color coded (Purple, Blue, Red, and Yellow). These are the auto settings which are set according to the guide on the side of the flash. All you do is rotate the dial to the ISO you will be shooting at on the camera, find the F stop you want to shoot at, and then turn the dial to the appropriate color. There is also a distance guide listed on the dial as well. The Vivitar 283 has the auto thyristor technology which reads how far away your subject is and adjusts flash power accordingly. You can over ride this and shoot at full power with every shot by switching the power dial to M (manual) mode.  The flash will shoot straight on as well as 45, 60, 75, and 90 degree angles. The flash has a sync port that will allow you to hook up to a wireless receiver to trigger the flash off camera.

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The Vivitar 285 / 285 HV is the younger brother to the 283. A few advantages the 285 has over the 283 is that it has various manual power modes such as 1/16, 1/4, 1/2, and full power. It does also include the 4 auto settings that the 283 has. Another advantage the 285 has is that the flash head has three settings (wide, normal, and tele). This flash, like the 283 has a sync port so that you can hook up a radio receiver to trigger the flash off camera. Both cameras have a button on the back so that the distance guide lights up so you can select your distance in the dark.

283 Cons:

  • fewer power setting options
  • no zoom
  • slow recycle times

283 Pros

  • small
  • durable
  • quality made, built in Japan
  • can be bought for under $20 or $30

285 Cons:

  • “newer models” made in China
  • slow recycle times

285 Pros:

  • You can find one built in Japan
  • more powerful than the 283
  • zooms
  • more power settings than the 283
  • can be bought for under $20 or $30

So would I suggest purchasing one of these? Of course! These flashes can be had for very inexpensive. These are great for photographers just learning flash and these, especially the models made in Japan, are built to last. Even when you decide to upgrade you can keep these as back ups, fill flashes, or hair lights in studio. You can purchase 3 to 4 of these for under $50 and do full on studio work. Recycle times are slow, but what do you expect from flashes that are this inexpensive? I’ve owned 3 to 4 of these over the years and they have come in handy.

Nikon RF 2

Over the last year or so I’ve been interested in shooting with fully or mostly fully automatic cameras. I found this Nikon RF 2 at a local thrift store and bought it for under $5 U.S. This camera feels good in the hands. While it’s mostly plastic it has more weight than I expected. It’s well built for being all plastic and it was made in Japan.

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There is a switch that turns on the camera by opening up the 35mm lens. There are two buttons on top. One triggers the shutter and the other is for the self timer. There is a tripod mount on the bottom. There is one switch on the side which opens up the compartment for the film.

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Pros

  • Well built for being plastic
  • Built in Japan
  • light
  • nice lens
  • feels good in the hands

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Cons

  • It is a plastic camera, would rather it be metal
  • flash fires when camera thinks necessary (no flash on / off button)

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Tools and The Level Of Importance In Photography

There are a number of things that have their level of importance in photography. Below I will list and explain each thing.

  1. Your Brain. Knowing what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it is the first and most import step in the process of making an image. Knowing what kind of light you’ll need, knowing what king of lens you’ll need are all precursors to the end result.
  2. The Light. Light is the single most important tool in photography. The word “Photography” itself means to write with light or to light write. Just as important as light is good light or knowing how to use light. There are many difference sources of light such as the sun, street lights, lamps and interior lights, and flashes and strobes. Knowing how to use each one of these is beneficial to making great photographs. There are also modifiers such as umbrellas, soft boxes, grids, and gobos that help modify and direct the light as the photographer sees fit.
  3.  The Lens. There are many many many lenses made by many different lens manufacturers. Some lenses are “better” than others, however, it all depends on what the photographer is looking to do with the lens. There are even cheap plastic lenses used on Holgas, and Diana cameras that can make magical images with the right…… LIGHT (which is why light is number one “tool” on the list).
  4. The camera. The camera is important but definitely not the most important on the list. The camera is more than a sensor. The digital camera is made up of firmware and processors that help create the image we see on the back of the screen or on the computer.
  5. Post Processing Software. This is at the bottom of the list, however, for a lot of inexperienced photographers this seems to be more important than it really is. Software such as Lightroom and Photoshop are tool to help enhance or put the finishing touches to create the final product. Many images made by professional photographers actually need very little done to make the image they client may want. However, this is all dependent upon what the final result will be.

*Many people still shoot film. I would put film at number 4 on the list just as important as the camera. The reason being is because in film photography the type of film used will tremendously dictate the end result.

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