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Nifty 50 or Jive 35?

At some point in our photographic careers, we all owned a “nifty 50” or now for the crop sensor camera a “really jive – 35” should be one of you primary prime lenses.  The reason for owning the 50mm (normal view in full frame format) or the 35mm (normal view in cropped sensor format) is the field of view approximates your normal vision with one eye closed; and the aperture of the lens has a very small f-number for great depth of field control.  The low f-number is important since it controls the amount of light entering the camera. Controlling the depth of field of the focus of the lens and by extension the amount of focus, or not, of the background.  Simply the smaller the f-number the less area of focus, the more the subject is not distracted by the background since the background may be completely out of focus.  Larger f-numbers will give you greater depth of field and so you have more area that appears in focus so the subject may be as sharp as the background and so not stand out as much as compared to what is around it.

The “Normal” prime lens is the one you want to keep in you bag for low light situations and  extreme focus control.

Prime lenses are not as versatile as zooms.  But zoom lenses cannot match the prime lens for depth of field control and low light capability.

Have questions, call us at 864-583-8635 or email us at impossible@spartanphotocenter.com

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Time for a Tripod Tune Up

Blogpost by Bas

We are going to be tuning up Bogen and Manfrotto tripods March 10th through March 22nd!

Let us check your tripod, head, or monopod before the spring shooting season kick starts! This is a great SLIK_LIGHTYPOD_IIIopportunity to make sure your gear is ready to go.  We will test, clean and lubricate, and then perform minor repairs.  Any tripod, head, or monopod listed on our ManfrottoTripodParts.com or BogenTripodParts.com websites can be are repaired in-house.  Others may have to be sent in to Manfrotto for service.

We will not be charging labor for the tune ups on these days, only for replacement parts and return shipping, if applicable.   After March 22nd labor returns to standard cost starting at $25, make sure you take advantage!

Send your Manfrotto or old Bogen Tripod for tune up to:

SpartanPhotoCenter, inc
197 East Saint John St
Spartanburg, SC 29306

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The Sunny 16 Rule for Meterless Photography

Before we had the accuracy of matrix or evaluative metering we had center weight or partial metering.  These were acceptable, but poor substitutes for an incident hand held meter readings.  The best way to meter light is using an incident meter reading.  Incident light is the light falling upon the subject, so the reflectiveness of the subject (or their clothes) is not a factor.  Center weight reads the reflected light as a percentage of the overall frme.  This is generally wrong because you situation and subjest is rarely average.  Matrix and evaluative meters are reading that reflected light from the subject and are converting it to an incident reading.  Computer and mathmatical magic.  It is genius in that is is very accurate.

The sunny 16 rule is a good way to use the general incident light setting based on your situation.  The way I learned the rule:

Set the shutter speed on the camera equal to the ISO (film speed) setting.  The aperture is set for the following situations.

Sunny bright on sand and snow hard shadows use f22
Sunny hard light with hard distinct shadows   use f16
Hazy bright light with soft shadows use f 11
Hazy dull light indistinct shadows use f 8
Overcast light with no shadows use f 5.6
Open shade no shadows use f4

Be aware of backlight situations, where there is bright or stong lighting behind the subject.  In this case add open up 1 ro 2 stops depending upon the strenght of the back light.

Example: Front light subject,  hazy bright light with soft shadows using  ISO 200, shutter 200th and f11.    Back light subject, hazy bright light with soft shadows using ISO 200, shutter 200th and f8.  Strong back light subject, hazy bright light with soft shadows using ISO 200, shutter 200th and f5.6.

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Broken Filters

If you buy any lens from me, I am always going to tell you to put a protection filter on it. Period. There are lots of discussion about filter effecting sharpness, and some filters will effect the optical output of the lens more than other.  So it is THAT important that you buy a good filter.   A better filter, or taking the filter off while exposing is the best for sharpness.  But, nothing will chill you heart faster than hearing breaking glass, when you drop a lens or trip and fall with you camera.  I will have to say that I have never accidentally broken a lens or optic in a lens ACCIDENTALLY.  I have broken easily 30 protective filters in my life, by accident or stupidity.  But, all the lenses were and are still fully functional and un damaged.  The filter ring or the glass of the protective filter will usually take the brunt of the force, and dent or shatter.  The shattering of the filter helps to greatly dissipate the energy of the fall.  The filter ring that is dented has preserved the filter threads of the lens, so unless it was a very great fall, simply removing the broken filter and replacing it is all that is necessary.

If you break your filter, bring it to us.  We have specialized tools and are skilled at removing the broken glass and dented filter remains.  Plus if your filters are ProMaster HGX filters, we will replace it for FREE forever.

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Cleaning Out Your Bag

What is in your bag?  Where has it been in the last 6 months or a year?  When was the last time you cleaned your bag, or even vacuumed it out?

We all watch for dust, making sure not to leave the camera open face up, not leaving the rear caps off camera lenses; but when was the last time your cleaned, really cleaned your camera bag?  I know for one, I often leave the flap open instead of closing it when I am done. Or just the fact that dust accumulates overtime. Is your camera bag you worst source of dust and debris?  It probably is and you don’t know it.  Think about where is has been.  It goes everywhere, in the trunk, on the ground, under seats and places I know I’d rather not be sometimes.  Oh the dust you can find in these odd places your bag goes.

The best thing you can do is vacuum your bag.  Take everything out, pull the dividers, remove the bottom.  Wet wipe and then vacuum the Velcro, the seams and don’t forget the pockets.  My Tamrac 610 is 17 years old.  It has a hard bottom layer that I remove just about once a year.  You find all sorts of neat things under there: Swiss francs, spare change, lens caps, covers and miscellaneous do-dads that I know I had but lost.  I even found my pocket knife under the bottom while cleaning my bag out before an airline trip.  Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!

A good “once over” also allows you to look at the seams for fraying.  stretched, weak or unraveled seams will fail when you least expect it.  Of course buying a quality bag is the most important purchase you can make for the long term use and storage of your camera gear.  Tamrac is one of the best, along with M-Rock, Pelican and Promaster.  I favor these bags because the are durable, reasonable price for the bag, and for the longevity.  M-Rock is designed for hikers, by hikers.  Michael Rockwell makes an impressive system that works well individually and as a system.  And in all the years we have sold his bags we have had very few fail or be deemed defective.  When a bad seam or defective bag is found; M-Rock will stand behind it for us to replace or he will remedy the problem himself.  Pelican is legendary.  Hard ABS cases that are nearly indestructible.  Promaster is a leading manufacturer of camera and photography equipment.  The range of bags, pouches and back packs is astounding.  Their dealers stand behind the product and  we have never had a defective bag in the last 3 years we have been affiliated with the PRO organization.

After you’ve cleaned the bag, re-arrange the dividers so everything is at your fingertips.  Wear your bag so what you need most is closest to your grasp.  Don’t forget to clean the outside of the bag to keep it looking good.

I have attached several odd looking key chains to  the zipper pulls so I can easily recognize my bag from a distance.  Also the split rings allow me to connect all the zippers together and keep the bag “locked” without having to have and loose a key, or worry about lock combinations.

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South Carolina’s Largest Photography Store

 With 4400 square feet of photographic supplies, camera gear, photo finishing, and gifting products

Spartan Photo Center, Inc. now has the distinction of being South Carolina’s largest camera store.

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     As more and more small photography stores close their doors, Spartan Photo Center remains a vital part of the photography industry in South Carolina; providing printing services, cameras, studio equipment, and education in the field. We not only provide the goods photographers need to help their businesses thrive, we also form a support group to help fellow photographers network and work together to achieve their goals.  Professionals and non-professionals alike walk through our doors every day. We do our best to serve their needs based on where they are at that moment, whether they are using top of the line gear or simply their phone.

     Our 4400 square foot building is packed with all the goodies and tools a photo enthusiast could want. From tripods to DSLR cameras, point and shoots to telephoto lenses, we have what beginners and pros need, along with some of the best people you could meet in town. Our staff strives to make your experience engaging, fun, informative, and easy. We want you to succeed and get the results you want. We are here to serve the photo community.

Spartan Photo Center provides valuable services that you can’t find anywhere else in the Upstate. You can find rentals, sensor cleaning, VHS to DVD transfer, photo restoration, video editing, tripod repair, and now we have added a new line of photo gifts to our array of printing services.  We are so excited to introduce gifts such as custom photo mugs, iPhone cases, T-shirts, and iPad cases.

We operate several websites to help you.  The first is our namesake: SpartanPhotoCenter.com  This site show many of the products and services that we offer.  Plus you can order photos, canvas prints, metal, mugs T-shirts etc from this site.

The next are very esoteric in nature:  TripodQuickRelease.com is just for finding and replacing  quick release plates on tripods.  We support several hundred different tripods and about 80+ brands.  ManfrottoTripodParts.com and BogenTripodParts.com are just parts support sites for Manfrotto and Bogen tripods, heads and monopods.  We stock over 1800 individual parts for these brands of tripods alone.

If you are looking for something, anything photographic, I’m sure we can help.

Thank you so much to our customers who have helped us along the way, and have continued to be faithful patrons. We are so glad to be a part of your community, and look forward to another year. Happy New Year!
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Photographing Holiday Lights: The Basics

Chritstmas TreeSome people think that you need an expensive camera or an elaborate setup to photograph holiday lights, but in truth, you can work wonders with a standard point-and-shoot and a little knowledge of how to balance light.

Flash Not Necessary:  When it comes to photographing the season’s lights, the decorative version may be all you need for proper illumination.  In fact, when it comes to Christmas trees and other indoor decorations, a closely positioned flash can overpower the scene and create a washed-out effect.  It’s often better to try photographing the lights first and examine the results.  Oftentimes, the holiday lighting is more than capable of standing on its own and actually shines better when left alone.

Incorporating Ambient Light:  Photographing holiday lights means keeping track of the diminishing ambient light—most notably, the sun as it sets.  You’ll get the best results photographing lights BEFORE it gets dark.  During the dusk period, you’ll find a nice balance of diminishing ambient light contrasting with the holiday lights, which means you’ll be able to see more objects in the background.

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Try Tungsten:  Set your custom white balance to tungsten, just as you would if you were photographing something indoors without using a flash. Holiday lights are balanced for tungsten lighting and this will give your images a warm contrast between the sky/background and the lights.

 

Bring Your Tripod:  Using a tripod is especially important in shooting holiday lights.  It will provide stability, which is particularly critical with low-light photography, and will keep your shot properly framed as you continue shooting as the evening light transitions to black. Don’t have a tripod?  Consider our high-quality selection here:  http://www.promaster.com/products.asp?CatID=300

Take Ten Shots (Over Ten Minutes):  Once you have everything set, begin taking a photograph every minute or so.  Your eyes may not register the gradual changes so track the time with your watch or cell phone.  Then, shoot every minute or so over a 10-15 minute period.  You’ll see the changes in evening lighting as you scroll though your shots.

There’s no one right answer when it comes to photographing holiday lights, and this is actually a good thing.  Each situation is different, so feel free to apply these tips and then experiment based upon the results.  There are few things more fun than an impromptu holiday photo safari, so grab your gear a bit before twilight and enjoy the experience!

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Broken Filters

A broken filter looks horrible, and with the broken glass can be hazardous to remove.  Bring it to us and let us use the specialized tools and experience that we have to remove and replace the filter for you.  I have been in photography as a hobbyist, sales person and store owned for over 35 years (I started as a child, hence my young age now!).  A simple filter will do wonders for keeping your lenses clean and protected.

If you have a ProMaster HGX filter, the filter will provide greater protection and optical assistance to the lens than standard filters.  All ProMaster HGX filters have “Repellamax” coatings that resist scratching and coating.  I have taken a Sharpie Black marker to my HGX filters and the ink just balls up and wipes away.  No so easy on a plain glass filter; it takes a lot of effort to remove it from the plain glass or regular coated filter.  The HGX also have a lifetime, no fault warranty in our store.  We will replace any broken HGX filter with a new one, if it ever fails to function, for any reason. So if it gets cracked, scratched or broken, we will give you another one.  And we will remove it for you too.  Saves your fingers from getting cut.

While I have abused a few trying to get them to scratch or break, I can tell you that as compared to other lesser models and brands; it takes a lot of effort and force to damage a Promaster HGX filter.  And I haven’t even taked  about what coating will do on a filter.  That is a blog for a different day…

Have questions, call us at 864-583-8635 or email us at impossible@spartanphotocenter.com

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Last Chance for 12 Cent 4×6 Prints.

4x6photo copy This Thursday December 12th,  from 12am to 12pm we will be having our last 12 cent 4×6 print special.

Any order of 4×6 prints  (up to 500 prints) made in the store or online will be 12 cents each.  And we will have them for you before Christmas!

This is the last time we will be offering this special.  This special must be prepaid and cannot be combined with any other offers, specials or gift cards.

Applies to 4×6 prints made from digital files, 35mm, APS or 120 size negatives; brought into the store or submitted online.  Late orders will not be printed for 12 cents each.

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Spartanburg Photography Guild

The SpartanburgPhotographyGuild.org is a loose group of photographers of all skill levels that get together almost every month in our store.  We meet on the second Tuesday of each month to share inspiration, photo and software techniques and learn photography.

There is no cost to join, though you are expected to enter the challenges and enter a contest from time to time.  The challenges are usually monthly and allow you to photograph something in the lines of a theme and be judged on the execution.  The contests are formal contest and the one held at the Piedmont Interstate Fair is a peoples choice award, picked by the attendees at the fair.

Field trips are standard fair, tripod to the mountains, the Raptor Center in Charlotte and the Blue Ridge Parkway are not uncommon.

Come by any 2nd Tuesday or visit the website to see more: http://spartanburgphotoguild.org

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