Aug 19

Welcome

I’m Joe GP, an amateur photographer (among other things).
This website is mainly dedicated to my photography, so please have a look around, rate some pictures, write some comments and have a good time.
To make your visit even more enjoyable there are 3 Free Radio Stations on the right (just hit Play). — >

Just below are my latest photos, i try to upload a few at least every 2-4 weeks.

Copyright Notice: My photos are copyrighted and may not be used in any way without my written permission (except maybe as a desktop wallpaper). But if you wanna buy one Contact me and we’ll work out the details.

Mar 11

Review of the Upstart BG-E8 Aftermarket Battery Grip

Around this time last year i bought a Upstart BG-E8 aftermarket battery grip for my Canon 550D/T2i.

What i liked about it is that it was pretty cheap, ~$75 including 2 replacement batteries. I was also supposed to get a mouse pad that they “forgot” and they also made it sound like i was getting an infrared remote control for my camera, but on closer inspection (which obviously i only did after i received it) it says that it’s an optional extra (even though it was included in the picture of the bundle). That’s some pretty gray hat stuff and i won’t be buying anything from them again. (i’m not even gonna link to the Amazon page i bought it from)

One of it’s biggest faults initially was that the battery indicator no longer worked, it always showed full, and because of that i would get various errors when it was close to empty, like getting errors when trying to take a picture with the built in flash or it just shutting off out of the blue, and it always took me a second to figure out why this happened, not before panicking that my expensive camera died or something.Also draining the batteries to 0% is never recommended.

I haven’t had any experience with other battery grips so i don’t know if this is a common problem or not.

 

IMG_9391

 

Only about 2-3 months later, while on a field trip and having a pretty heavy Tamron 70-300mm VC on, it broke.

4 of the 5 screws holding the metal plate (that holds the big screw you attach the battery grip to the camera body) came out of their threads, why ? because they were small metal screws with fine threads that were screwed into plastic.

 

IMG_9394

 

They were obviously meant to screw into metal like the last screw that kept the camera and lens from falling to an expensive death and maybe rolling down the mointain, but the funny thing is there was metal there they could have screwed into but bigger holes than needed were drilled and plastic risers made instead.

Either the Chinese who designed it did it intentionally to make it last less or they have almost no idea what they are doing and were reverse engineering it, but this is a very common problem with stuff made in China.

 

Anyway i bought a cheap battery grip for a reason, lack of money, so the solution was not to go and buy another one (like most would have done) but to fix it (this is what less wealthy people do or at least try to do).

Why didn’t i send it in for warranty i hear you say ? well it’s because the shipping would have cost more then the grip itself and because i didn’t buy it myself. (My aunt bought it since it only cost $10 to ship to her and she was sending a package to me anyway.)

So i made some aluminum nuts. First i poked a whole through a piece of aluminum from a strip i had lying around (less wealthy people also don’t throw everything out), fortunately a thumb tack was just the right size, then i just used the screw itself to cut threads in the piece (if it was a harder metal i couldn’t do this) then i used regular scissors to cut them out.

IMG_9403

 

Then came the tricky part, assembling everything. The problem was that the nuts would turn together with the screw, so i had to think of something clever again, what i did was to use some glue to hold the nut to the base. (see photo)

The result looks fairly messy, also because i had to file down parts of the nuts, because they were interfering with the rotation of the main screw.

But since then i haven’t had a problem with it, and if it weren’t for the battery level indicator issue and of course the plastic threads i would have recommended it.

Now just because the one you bought isn’t an Upstart brand or that it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s any better built.

If you can, take the cover plate off and take a look at what those little screws grab onto, doing this should not void your warranty or cause any other problems, but it’s good to know if you can trust it with your $$$ camera and $$$-$$$$ lens.

I hope this was useful to someone, either way please leave some feedback and share any experiences you had.

Mar 10

Balea Lake (2012 May)

These photos were taken on a 1 day trip to Balea Lake in the Carpathian mountains. It’s located on the Transfagarasan, which is a pretty famous road that cuts across the mountains, as you can tell by the first picture it’s famous for it’s corners, making it somewhat of a drivers paradise, make sure you watch the episode that Top Gear UK did on it.

It was a very nice excursion even if it was pretty short, and i’m told we were very lucky to get such good weather.

Balea_Lake_May_2012_01_JGP-Photography Balea_Lake_May_2012_02_JGP-Photography

Balea_Lake_May_2012_03_JGP-Photography

 

 

Just after i took this photo my camera started acting up and after wasting precious minutes i figured out that the problem was, the battery grip broke. Read more about that here.

 

 

 

Balea_Lake_May_2012_04_JGP-PhotographyBalea_Lake_May_2012_05_JGP-PhotographyBalea_Lake_May_2012_06_JGP-Photography

It’s interesting how different the lake looked from one minute to another.

Balea_Lake_May_2012_07_JGP-Photography Balea_Lake_May_2012_11_JGP-Photography

Balea_Lake_May_2012_10_JGP-Photography Balea_Lake_May_2012_09_JGP-Photography Balea_Lake_May_2012_08_JGP-Photography

Balea_Lake_May_2012_12_JGP-Photography Balea_Lake_May_2012_13_JGP-Photography

On the way home it was really hot in the minibus, the air conditioning was on but it was as effective as a mouse coughing on you, but at least we had a pretty nice dinner at Hanul din Ardeal (The Transylvanian Inn) and a brief but pretty sunset.

 

Sep 06

Gabriella Tamas – May 2012

I sometimes do people photography too and Gabriella Tamas is my most willing model. Here are a few shots from the May 2012 photo shoot, in which she’s wearing a dress that she made.

I only had the kit lens at the time (18-55 IS), so the perspectives aren’t the best and the background blur is … lacking.

Please comment and/or share, it helps me a lot.

Jul 17

Insects of 2012 Spring

Here is the long overdue bug collection from this spring.

Please feel free to comment.

May 23

Top 10 Must Have DSLR Camera Accessories

Top 10 Must Have DSLR Camera Accessories

 

The first things you will buy after getting a DSLR will most likely be some accessories.

Some of them are so important that they might be offered in a kit with the camera.

 

Here is my list of must have accessories for a DSLR camera:

 

1. Memory cardsKingmax 16GB Class 10 SDHC Memory Card

Most cameras come with a very small internal memory, which is only really useful for testing purposes (1-5 shots), some don’t have any at all. So the number 1 most important accessory will be a memory card. They are so important that they are often offered as a kit with your camera, but those are usually pretty small.

The reason you bought a DSLR (hopefully) is to take advantage of its RAW capabilities, but these RAW files can take up a lot of room (3-6 times more than JPG), also if you bought a recent camera then it will have HD video features as well, so you are going to need a pretty big card, 8GB or more, i recommend 16GB, maybe 32GB if you shoot a lot in between downloads and/or a lot of video.

Having a backup or two (especially while on a long trip away from a computer) is also a very good idea.

 

2. Camera bagsRoots Camera Bag

Now that you have everything needed to take pictures, you need something to transport all that equipment with, not to mention to protect it from dust, rain, scratches and bumps.

While it’s the second most important thing in the list don’t rush into buying it.

First you need to buy most of the other accessories and lenses you think you might need, because they can take up a lot of room.

You might even want to consider buying 2 types/sizes, a small one, for just the camera and 1-2 lenses or maybe a flash, for quick and easy use while going to a party/get-together or just out on the town and another one to hold more stuff if not everything and/or to use while traveling, hiking, biking such as a backpack, a wheeled trolley or a combination of both.

 

3. Editing softwareAdobe Photoshop CS6

Some won’t think this is necessary at all, but if you are seriously into photography you will probably want to improve your photos with a bit of post-processing.

Most camera brands include some level of image editing software with your camera and you might not need any more than that, but even if they do chances are you will be wanting more (not to mention if you don’t get any)

Now you don’t have to buy an expensive software like Adobe Photoshop, there are some free and cheaper alternatives out there like GIMP, FastStone Image Viewer (both free) to name a few.

That being said the Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite is one of the best options, even considering the high price, it offers pretty much everything you could ever want and other features that only it can do (like content-aware healing)

 

4. Extra batteriesCanon 550D/T2i Aftermarket Battery

Extra batteries are very important if you do a lot of traveling or on location shooting, where you might not be able to use your charger or wait for the battery to charge.

If you don’t want to pay the high prices of original batteries there are much cheaper and just as good third-party batteries made for most DSLRs.

Before buying any extra batteries carefully consider if you want a camera grip, as sometimes you can get extra batteries with them (like i did). Scroll down to read more on camera grips.

 

5. TripodsFull Size Tripod

Tripods are endlessly useful, for anything from macro, self-portraits and group-shots to night time, time-laps and any long exposure photography.

When buying one don’t buy the first or cheapest one you see. Carefully consider what you need it for and how you are going to use it.

Choose one that fits your needs, be that studio, macro, landscape, wildlife or product photography (to name but a few).

A good tripod will be light yet strong, long lasting and stable.

You could buy a cheap one only to have a nob fall off a week later or it might not be able to hold up under the weight. (camera plus camera grip and a big lens and or flash can get pretty heavy)

Cheap tripods are also not very stable and can be hard to set up just the way you want it.

There are also travel tripods that fit into your camera bag like the Travel Angel from Benro or the Joby Gorillapod (this can be used normally or on top of things or wrapped around a tree, branch or pipe).

 

6. FiltersCokin Circular Polarizing Filter

Filters are usually single panes of glass that screw on to the front of your lens that allow you to get some very interesting and creative results.

Most notable are the Circular Polarizing (CP), Neutral Density (ND), Graduated (Grad) and close-up filters. These are the most notable because most of the other ones can be reproduced in post-processing, like warming or cooling filters, while others don’t do much at all (to the image that is) like the UV filter, that’s more for protection than anything else (the cheap ones just add flare and generally degrade your image quality, so i don’t use them).

 

7. Cleaning kitsGiottos Cleaning Kit

Sooner or later you are going to get your camera, lens, sensor or LCD screen dirty and sending it off to be cleaned for 2 weeks and quite a bit of money doesn’t sound very good. So a much cheaper and quicker option is to do it yourself.

A good kit isn’t expensive and has everything you need. Make sure it has an air blower, a microfiber cloth, a brush, some cleaning fluid and some special cotton swabs (similar to ear swabs/Q-Tips).

Use the air blower (pump) first to get rid of loose dirt, then the brush for stickier stuff and if that isn’t enough then the cleaning solution applied to either the microfiber cloth or the cotton swab, depending on where you are cleaning (never apply the solution directly to the surface you want to clean).

 

8. Flash guns/Speedlights

Depending on what you shoot you might not even need one or you might need something even more specialized (and expensive) like a ring flash for macro photography or Studio lights for fashion, portrait and other photography.

Sooner or later you will want something more powerful than the built in flash of your camera, not to mention the option to take it off the camera for more pleasing angles or to bounce the light off a wall.

And you can use them with many light modifiers like umbrellas, soft boxes, strip lights, etc.

Again you don’t need to get an expensive brand model, there are a lot of great third-party models and they cost a lot less, but at a price, the cheaper it is the less features and power it will have.

If you need to use it as a commander or for High-Speed sync then you will have to get a top of the line brand model like the Canon 600 EX-RT or the Nikon SB-910.

 

9. Camera gripsUpstart BG-E8 Aftermarket Grip

Camera grips offer the possibility to use 2 batteries at once, giving you double the working time and they almost always have a second battery tray that allows you to use 6 AA (R6) batteries instead.

You might prefer AA batteries (rechargeable or not) or you might not have a choice, like being in a foreign country where your charger might not work (different voltage and/or socket).

Camera grips also have other great features, like a vertical grip and the buttons to go with it, which is very handy if you shoot a lot of portraits.

They also offer extra grip for people with bigger hands (like me), making the camera much easier and comfortable to hold, it also can help balance out a heavier/longer lens.

The highest-end cameras actually have a built in camera grip for these reasons and more, so when you attach a camera grip to your budget DSLR it kind of makes it look like one. 😀

 

10. cable/remote releaseCable release with built-in intervalometer and infrared remote control

Cable releases are very useful for long exposure photography, where you don’t want to shake the camera while you are pushing down the shutter button, or when you want to take a picture away from your camera to capture wildlife.

This obviously also involves the use of a tripod.

They also make cable releases that have an intervalometer built in, which can be used to delay a shot (for more than your cameras 10 seconds) or most often than not for time-laps photography (time-laps videos).

Remote releases work very similarly (but don’t come with an intervalometer), but they don’t use a cable to communicate, instead they usually use an infrared light beam, which means you have to point it towards the cameras infra-red receiver, which is usually located on the front part of the cameras grip.

This means they are great for self-portraits and group shots, because of this most cameras only have a receiver on the front of the camera, which means you can’t use it from behind the camera (which is most annoying).

There are of course other ways to trigger your camera, if you need even more flexibility, like Pocket Wizards which work with radio frequencies and therefor can be used from far greater distances (up to 365 meters)

 

I tried to put these in the order of importance/necessity, but obviously your needs might differ.

You might think i left out the lenses, well I don’t consider lenses an accessory; they are more like the other half of the camera, without which you can’t really take a picture, so I didn’t include them in this list.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what accessories you use, I might add it to the list.

May 08

Saint George Days 2012 Photos

Here are some of the pictures i took during this years Saint George town celebrations.

There were a few colorful rides that made interesting pictures when exposed for a longer time.

'Top Spin' Carnival Ride'Top Spin' Carnival ride"Top Spin" Carnival Ride'XXL Ranger''Crazy Dance'

There were also fireworks marking the end of the week long celebration, they weren’t very spectacular, it’s a small town with an even smaller budget after all, but still worth photographing.

May 04

Saint George Days Carnival Ride Video

I did my first night time Full HD video a couple of days ago at this years Saint George Days town celebrations.

Shot with my Canon 550D/T2i DSLR and a Canon 18-55mm IS lens all mounted on a tripod.

Any comments are appreciated.

May 01

Spring flowers 2012

Here are some of the flowers and plants i shot this spring, almost all were shot using my Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro
SnowdropPine ConeHepatica Transilvanica
Hepatica TransilvanicaBeauty after Death

Tree Blossoms'Ouch' Blue'Ouch' Yellow

 

Please feel free to comment.

Apr 01

Set 9 – Lily

Seeing as i sold my previous camera (my Panasonic FZ35/38), this will be the last set done with it.
All future pictures will be done with my new Canon EOS 550D DSLR camera. (Until i upgrade again that is)

This set is about Lily, the only pet i have right now, they were taken last year, mostly on my balcony, but some in my bedroom too.

Please take a moment to comment and rate a few pictures, as always your feedback is highly appreciated.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.”Unknown

Mar 04

Set 8 – Flowers 1

Spring is almost here so i thought I’ll share some pictures of the prettiest flowers I’ve photographed over the last 2 years.

Please take a moment to comment and rate a few pictures, as always your feedback is highly appreciated.

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.

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