The Recesky TLR DIY Camera Kit – A Review

It occurred to me recently that I’ve been a regular contributor here at DIY Photography for four months, and I’ve yet to actually write anything DIY-related. So, before anybody notices and rats me out to the boss, today’s the day I bring a little DIY to the table– compliments of a Chanukah gift from my 12-year-old son.

This particular man-cub is one of the most thoughtful people I know, which is one of the reasons he gets so pissed off every year around the holidays and my birthday over the high price of camera-related goodies. He wants to do something nice and can’t afford it. This year, though, he was bound and determined, and let me tell you– that kid of mine struck gold. For about twenty bucks, he got me the Recesky TLR DIY Camera Kit.

Recesky DIY Camera Kit

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18 Photography Apps Each Smartphone Photographer Should Consider

If you stop to think about it, that little eye on the world on the back of your smart phone is a technological wonder– particularly if you grew up in an era when leaving the house or office meant nobody could reach you until you surfaced somewhere with a land line. Even when compared to point-and-shoot digital cameras of just a few years ago, these cameras which are constantly with us keep advancing at an incredible rate, creating images often indistinguishable from those taken with our DSLRs.

But it’s not perfect– and never can be–.since perfection means drastically different things to different people, Thanks to ambitious app creators, though, we can trick out our smart phone cameras with a seemingly endless supply of options. From filtering and sharing, to editing and correcting, if there’s something you want your smart phone camera to do, chances are there’s an app for that.

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Tips for Overcoming Shyness as a Photographer

“If you are a silent sniper with a telephoto, when they do notice you they will feel like you’ve taken something from them.”

As photographers, we often measure our moments in hundredths of seconds. As a result, we are regularly faced with the undeniable truth that missed moments are gone forever. It’s one thing to miss a moment due to technical issues or circumstances beyond your control, but how many times has an opportunity– business, artistic, or personal– been lost because you’ve been too shy to capture it?

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12 Pointers That Will Help Your DSLR Live Longer

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It’s that time of year again. Can you feel it? Camera companies have launched shiny new, “must-have” trinkets. Your GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is raging like an inferno at an all-time high. And– of course– nothing celebrates the birth of a savior or the rededication of a holy temple quite like upgrading your camera. It’s a simple, unavoidable fact-of-photography-life. It’s the holiday season and you want a new camera. So do I. It doesn’t matter how pristine or properly functioning my cameras are at the end of the year. Without fail, I always want a new one. Every year. And this is why I’m engaged in my annual Battle of the Voices. I’ve got the devil from one shoulder talking about new cameras in my ear, while the angel from the other shoulder is trying to give him a serious beat-down.

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On Being Generous – With Your Photography and Your Time

I received the following email a few weeks ago:

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“Hello, my name is Sam. I am a 7th grade student at _____ Middle School. I am doing an independent project on photography and saw some of your posts. I was wondering if you could give me some tips or anything about photography. Please get back to me as soon as you can. Thanks!”

This was my reply:

“Hi, Sam. Thanks for touching base with me. I’d love to be able to give you some tips for your project, but I think you need to narrow down your question a bit. Simply asking me for tips on “anything about photography” doesn’t give me enough information. For example, I have no way of knowing how much you already know. If you can send me a list of specific questions regarding things like exposure, composition, etc., I’ll see what I can do to help you out. Best, –J.”

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15 Photographic Lighting Books and Why You Want Them

I guess I’ve had lighting on the mind lately. Except for a select few, I don’t think anyone ever truly “masters” photographic lighting. As I said in another post on the topic recently, mastering light — or even just taming it– is one of the biggest and most difficult challenges facing any photographer. For me, I find that my lighting technique continues to evolve as I continue to grow as a photographer. Lighting for portraits is different than lighting for food. Lighting for products is different than lighting for fashion. And don’t even get me started on the chasm between studio and location lighting.

And yet, when it comes to lighting, all of these genres do share some very significant similarities. The bottom line when it comes to any lighting situation is that you have to get a handle on two very important things– how the light behaves, and how to make it behave for you. To that end, I’ve pulled together a sampling of 15 of some of the best lighting books available. Not e-books. Not apps, Not videos. This week we’re going old school. Photographic wisdom printed and illustrated on actual pages and bound together into a single, hand-held volume. No batteries required.

I’ve tried to include a little something for everyone, regardless of specialty or skill level. To find out more about any of the books listed, click on the title above the cover photo. This is not a ranking– just a list of suggested reading. So, in no particular order, I give you…

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The Leica Freedom Train: A Legacy Beyond Photography

One of my favorite neighbors sends me photography-related emails every so often. She’ll send me a link for an upcoming museum exhibit or gallery show. Sometimes she’ll forward an article about a local photo contest. I look forward to her emails, partially because I appreciate her taking an interest in what I do, but also because it’s interesting to me to see what sort of photography stories and events are resonating with non-photographers. I received one her emails this past week and I was floored– shocked, actually, that I’d never heard the story of the Leica Freedom Train. It’s one of those rare stories that brings together so many aspects of my life, including my passions for photography and history, as well as some very deep connections to my family heritage.

While the actual numbers are lost to history, what has become known as the Leica Freedom Train was a rescue effort by Ernst Leitz II and his daughter Elsie Kuehn-Leitz to get hundreds of German Jews out of the country, starting within months of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.

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10 Photography Lighting Tutorials From Beginners to Pros

Mastering light — or even just taming it– is one of the biggest and most difficult challenges facing any photographer. Regardless of whether you shoot in a studio full of strobes, or venture out on location with nothing but a reflector, overcoming the stumbling blocks that lighting throws in our way all boils down to the same set of tasks– understanding how light works, and making it work for you. The Web is bursting at its digital seams with lighting tutorials for photographers of every type and skill level. Some are good, some not, but they all share a common goal — helping you take control of one of the most important aspects of your photography. We’ve compiled ten of our favorites for you. There’s no ranking system — just a little something for everyone. So, in no particular order…

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Using Our Photographic Super Powers for Good

This tends to be a pretty emotional time of year for me. The three-month stretch between October and December marks several anniversaries. Defining moments. For starters, it was ten years ago that I left briefcases and courtrooms behind for camera bags and studios. I think that anyone who says that they’ve “never looked back” after making such a monumental change is either getting a little too dramatic with their bio, or is just better than I am at compartmentalizing the past. My past got me to my present– and will hopefully do the same for my future. How can I not look back from time to time and reflect– or even question it on the bad days? As for other autumn milestones, it’s been fourteen years since I married WAY out of my league and embarked on one of Life’s greatest adventures. Unfortunately, though, this is also when I have to pause and remember my father, whom I lost to cancer four years ago this week.

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While my dad was not a professional photographer, he was extremely talented with a camera. I still go through his photos every so often, looking for inspiration or reminiscing about the countless hours we spent in the darkroom when I was a kid. But in addition to all of the hats he wore– husband, father, dentist, friend, photographer– he was also one of the most charitable men I’ve ever known. He was never flashy about it. It wasn’t about recognition. He knew what he was doing, and that was enough for him. He didn’t hide his generosity, but he didn’t advertise it either. It was more for their dignity than his own, that he’d often give in such a way that the recipients of his kindness never knew the source. [Read more...]

How to Write a Better Photography Bio

As photographers, it’s our job to make people look good. It’s interesting, then, how difficult it can be for so many of us to write solid bios for our websites. Obviously, we’re talking about different modes of expression, and what we can often do so easily with a camera for someone else can feel like rock climbing with one hand when it comes to talking about and promoting ourselves to prospective clients.

As a writer, the one question I hear more than any other from my friends is, “Hey, can you read something for me and tell me what you think?”  Of course the answer is always yes, and lately I seem to be proofreading quite a few website updates and revisions. Consistently, the most difficult hurdle seems to the bio or “about” section. And it’s no surprise. Growing up, we’re taught that good manners dictate we show more interest in what others have to say, rather than whatever it is we think is so interesting about ourselves.

All well and good, but we’re grown-ups now and we have families to take care of. In an era when everyone with a camera and a website is competing for the same finite about of business, it’s become more important than ever to be able to sell yourself– quickly, concisely, and effectively.

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