Choosing the Right Lens part 2

The Last time we talked about the different types of lenses and I also covered my top 5 favorite lenses. In choosing the right lens part 2 we will cover more specifically why many photographers choose prime lenses.

Why Primes and not Zooms

Let me first state that I do use zooms In fact I own the Canon 70-200 2.8  but my main goto lenses are primes. I choose these because of the type of images that I shoot. I shoot portraits but a lot of black and whites, a lot of rich dark contrasts, also quite a few selected focus (where the subject maybe out of focus) ones too. The main difference for me between primes and zooms is low light and primes tend to push you to be more creative.

85mm Prime

This focal length is considered a portrait lens primarily due to how close it brings the subject and also how the background appears to be further away from your view. When it comes to the Canon and Nikon system the Aperture or F-stop goes well below 2.0 some go as low as 1.2  Nikon 85mm Lowend & Nikon 85mm Highend  | Canon 85mm Lowend & Canon 85mm Highend

50mm Prime

This focal length is considered great for street photography (though there are many other lenses that do the same) because of it’s lightweight and compact design many photographers keep this lens attached to their cameras. Just like the 85mm the Aperture or f-stop works great for low light situations.


40mm Prime

40mm Pancake picture

Day 1 with the 40mm
This was the 1st image taken with the 40mm Pancake, on the day I picked it up from Bhphoto superstore.

The Canon 40mm Prime (Pancake) is considered an odd focal length to many photographers but I personally don’t have any problems with it. The Pancake lens (as it’s called) is a great lens it’s fast, silent in it’s focusing, sharp, compact and can be used for portraits. If your camera has a full frame sensor the pancake can be used for group shots. It’s not my favorite lens but since it’s so compact I tend to keep it in my pocket during weddings. Below you’ll find a youtube review on this lens 40mm Price right now.

Bottom line

I’ve read review after review on different cameras and lenses and often times people will say there is no perfect camera or no perfect lens and the choice is yours. While that is true, there are some folks who just want a recommendation. Well here is what I recommend, if you have your camera and want to buy a lens to improve your images start with a 50mm lens. while it DOES NOT zoom or give you a great option for wide shots it will make you move, until you get the shots you want. What’s important in photography and life is that we develop from the negatives because in the end the person behind the camera it what makes the shot.

Children Photography Classes

At the Beth

This summer I spent 3 weeks teaching photography at a local community center, The Bethlehem Center. Over those three weeks, I saw first hand what happens when we invest in children. The Beth (as it’s affectionately called) uses as their motto “READ TO LEAD” because as we all know reading is fundamental to learning, but these kids were picking up more than reading skills. To just name a few, these kids learned art skills, arithmetic, history, Techtown (technology) and of course photography.

Children Photography Classes

When I sat down and put together the photography outline my plan wasn’t to lecture for an hour. I wanted to show the kids photography. I went over a few photography’s greats: Ansel Adams, Jeremy Cowart and Gordon Parks. I also used a few tools to accomplish this: a smart board, 500px, Polarr, and Adobe Lightroom. I will further explore these tools in the LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE available this Fall.

When I think of children (ages 4-9) and youth (ages 13-24) I can’t help but see potential,

A Child Photographer
Can you image an 8 year old taking photos? Not by himself of course but properly guided he can create just as young Mozart did when he 1st started.
I image them doing something they enjoy and at the same time being productive. For example the following 4 images are from student photographers:

Taking Headshots
In this picture the kids were working on getting a proper head shot in a studio environment. They were using my 5d Mark II here.

These kids took those images but more importantly they had fun throughout the process. There is a notion that children work as they play, so then their playing and enjoyment should be constructive, fulfilling and educating, this way learning will become natural.

Bethlehem Center Promo
I had the pleasure of putting together this small promo for the Bethlehem Center.

It’s amazing to me how we complain and complain about the youth of today. Yet with all our complaining we never try and engage them. I’m not at all suggesting that we ignore their behavior, we should correct them. The key is to correct them but then don’t leave them in the mess. Don’t just sit there and complain, give the young minds of today something to look up to, every bit of knowledge we have it’s our responsibility to share it. Pass it on because you never know how far your efforts can go.

5 Street Photography Techniques

Street Photography Takes Careful Timing

If you pay careful attention to your subjects your photos will improve.


Street photography is nothing more than candid shots taken on a public street. The subjects however are likely to get upset once they knowyou’ve taken their picture so you have to be subtle.

There are 5 Street Photography Techniques I use almost every time I snap pics on the go.

1. Get Ready

Be ready so you don’t have to get ready I’d suggest you keep your Lens cap off, keep your camera on, and keep your finger on the shutter button.

2. Scan the Crowd

If your taking pictures of people on the go keep your eyes moving and looking for a shot that you find interesting and start shooting.

3. Don’t be obvious

Look in the direction you are shooting and after you have taking the picture keep looking past the subject so as to not be obvious.

4. Ask

A lot times it’s better to ask someone before taking their image of course if you want it to be natural then asking would not make sense. Also make sure you explain what you’d use the image for and offer to send them the image via email.

5. Use a Compact Lens

If you walk around with a telephoto lens (see post on lenses) it can be very intimidating and you’ll be more obvious. So choose a prime lens I’d recommend any of the following: 50mm 85mm 24mm 35mm


Confidence makes a difference

A lot of people hide behind their gear, they are always asking what lens are you using, what body do you have and how much did you pay for it? The reality is the tools help only if you know how to use them. You being confident with your equipment will help even more. Keep in mind I’m not talking about how well your camera or lenses work but rather how well you know your tools. 

Central Park Family
About 2 years ago in Central Park I walked over to a couple who had 3 kids and asked them to take their picture (they were tourist) and they said yes.

This Picture was taken before the rest of the family had their drink I wanted to catch Victoria because she was very relaxed in front the camera.

I was confident enough to ask the family for a portrait and I knew I could pull off the shot that I wanted because I had my camera set, and the lighting was good. Even though I asked for the portrait I didn’t position the family or tell them what to do because I still wanted the candid look which was my focus all along, I didn’t want a traditional family portrait. I enjoy Street photography because it gives you a glimpse of peoples emotions and it takes a actual moment and provides a lesson.

Choosing the Right Lens

Before you begin the process of choosing the right Lens, you have to first consider the type of photography your doing such as: lifestyle photography, editorial photography, fashion photography, Landscape photography, or food photography. Once you’ve decided on your style, you’ll be in a better position to make the right choice. Lenses are generally categorized into 3 parts.


These type of lenses usually cover the landscape side of photography. The range of wide angles typically start at 14mm – 24mm (with numbers in between).

  1. Canon 24mm (highend)
  2. Nikon 14mm (highend)
  3. Canon 24mm Pancake
  4. Rokinon 14mm (Nikon)


The standard range of lenses are found in the 35mm – 85mm these lenses typically cover portraits, candids and street photography.

  1. Nikon 35mm
  2. Canon 50mm
  3. Rokinon 85mm
  4. Nikon 35mm (highend)


Most people usually gravitate towards these lenses simple because they bring you closer to the subject with little or no movement. The range typically found in his category are 100mm – 800mm (and higher).

  1. Nikon 200mm
  2. Nikon 300mm
  3. Canon 135mm
  4. Canon 70-200mm 2.8
  5. Nikon 70-300 f4

It should be noted that the categories mentioned above are a general rule and lenses aren’t confined to just what’s listed (see below).

Finding Your Lens

Now when I think about lenses, I focus on 2 words primes or zooms. Prime simply means that these lenses don’t zoom they have a fixed focal length (or range). Zooms on the other hand have variable focal lengths (or ranges). I typically lean towards the prime lenses for 3 reasons:

  1. They usually offer great low light performance
  2. Easier to carry (smaller size)
  3. They offer Higher Apertures

It’s important to note that when it comes to photography I focus on portraits, so I chose primes because they can be used for my portrait work. Now I say primarily because a lens can be used for any type of photo. If the lens you choose isn’t designed for a particular purpose, (say a fisheye lens being used for portraits) it will then mean you have to work harder to achieve the look you want.

My Top 5 lenses on any camera system are

135mm – Excellent Depth of field (good for portraits).Speedo-135mm
Speedo at the YMCA
This image was taken back in 2007 with the Canon 20D and a 135mm Lens.
85mm Lens – Compact & nice depth of field (great for portraits) Family-85mm
Family Time
This image was taken in 2013 with the Canon 5D Mark II & a 85mm 1.2 lens with a shutter of 4000 an f-stop of f1.6 and an iso of 250.
50mm Lens – Good for street, portraits or on the run photography.SohoRide-50mm
Soho Ride
This image was taken in 2011 with the Canon 5D Mark II and a 50mm 1.8 with a shutter of 8000 an f-stop of 2.2. and iso of 2500
24mm – Nice for landscape photography or group shots


Wedding Flight
This image was taken in 2010 with the Canon 5D Mark II and a 24 - 70mm 2.8 at 24mm with a shutter of 1000 an f-stop of 4 and iso of 100

35mm – Great for medium to wide portraits

 Lenses Hold Value

It is good to note, that the type of lens you choose will make a difference in the quality of the images you capture. It is also important to consider what your shooting, so you can choose the best lens for the job. The topic of lenses is a very in-depth one
for even more details on lenses follow the link to part 2 of this post.

Cameras under $1000

Canon T6i

The Canon Rebel has long been a camera of many entry-level photographers but many don’t realize that these cameras are very capable. In recent years they have incorporated video, faster processors and i this years model has Wifi & NFC.

I recommend this years Rebel because of it’s 24 Mega Pixel count, 19 point all cross type focus system & 5 frames per second shooting. Currently the rebel cost $749 and couple together with Canon’s Nifty Fifty or the newly released Yougnuo 50mm you’ll be off to a great start for portraits.

Nikon D5500


Now Nikon has always giving photographers more value on their dollar and the D5500 is no exception. With a 39 point auto focusing system, 24 Mega Pixels, 5 frames per second and a price of $746 it’s hard to beat. It’s also important to note that Nikon is usually cheaper when it comes to the the price of their accessories


Sony A5100

Although the Sony A5100 is not a DSLR but a mirrorless digital camera I believe it’s worth adding to this list, if not for it’s 24 Mega pixel count and a cost of only $500 What I like most about this camera is it’s lack of a mirror, which most DSLR’S need and because it has none an adapter can be attached which will give you the ability to add just about any lens (nikon, Canon, Pentax, Zeiss) to the front of your camera.

In conclusion the best camera is the one you have access to. The more expensive cameras help make the job more enjoyable but you really still have to know what your doing even if there is a camera that can do it all, you have to know where to stand. So let this list be a guide choose wisely and have fun shooting.

What’s the best camera in 2015?

What camera do you use? or What’s the best camera?

When I hear these questions I simply want to point them to the newest camera, or the camera with the best ratings. The truth is though, the camera isn’t what creates those lovely images we see on our screens.

Can you tell me what you think about a canon EOS 6D and canon EOS 60d, with a 50mm, 80mm, and or 18-55 mm IS lens for both photography and videography ? or if theres another type of cameras you would recommend for a school?

First of all  it isn’t the camera it’s the shooter…

A good camera can make the process easier, however it is best to invest in glass (lenses).

Video or Photography

I think it is important to choose between video and photography because that will help steer you in a proper direction you can do both but what’s the emphasis.

Cheap Fast & Good

Also there is a triangle when measuring services offered (photo/video or work in general).
Cheap / Fast / Good pick 2 if you want great results now on a low budget it will take practice and learning. If you spend more up front you still need to practice and learn but you will see better results because the equipment will help. Here is – Cheap Fast & Good Pick Two


These are my Top 5 Cameras in 2015

Sony A7r II

  • Excellent System (fast, touch screen_
  • Great Low light can shoot with only moonlight
  • Mirrorless (options to use any lens)
  • Small lightweight yet weather sealed
  • 4k Video straight to SDcards

Price & details


Panasonic GH4

  • Excellent System (fast, touch screen, burst mode)
  • Color & color profiles
  • Mirrorless (options to use any lens)
  • Small lightweight yet weather sealed
  • 4k Video

Price & details

Fuji X-T1

Fuji X-T1

  • Excellent System (fast, touch screen, burst mode, speed)
  • Mirrorless (options to use any lens)

Price & details

Samsung Nx1


  • Auto focusing System
  • Mirrorless (options to use any lens)

Price & details

Canon 5Ds


  • 50 Mega Pixels
  • improved processor

Price & details

5 Tips for Maternity Portraits

I have known Maria & Victor for about 6 months and one thing I can say is they are very caring and supportive. When I was asked to shoot their maternity photos I couldn’t wait for the day to come, after all there were Tons of ideas flooding my head. I thought of shots of Maria tossing leaves, to Victor kissing her tummy, To the both of them sitting in a field of leaves (none of which I ended up using).

Maria Wallo
This concept was where Maria wanted a hug but Wallo was hugs her tummy instead of her.

However one thing I have learned to do is light my subject with as soft a light as possible and so I knew before the day came that their images would be soft and appealing and not harsh and bright.


The Farm
Maria by the barn wanted to get a more natural country feeling for this image so we went to the location.

Preparation is Key

When the day finally came I laid everything out that I wanted to use and made sure all my lenses were cleaned, I typically do this because there should be no excuses why an Image wasn’t captured at the best quality. The reflector came in handy (will have a video on how I use mine soon). This photo session was a bit more involved as I had to shoot Victor, Maria and Maria’s Family. How do you keep a maternity theme when you have a group? Well here my 5 tips for maternity portraits:

  1. Treat your subjects like people (after all they are)
  2. Interact with your subject, talk with them and snap when you see what your looking for
  3. Keep the moment fun and enjoyable (look around for locations before hand)
  4. Move your subjects around keep the session flowing don’t get stuck in an area
  5. Relax and try something if it doesn’t work try again


This concept was simply a clear friendly image with an outdoor background.

 Photography Rules

There are no solid rules to the perfect image or the perfect photo session because it all depends on what it is your trying to achieve. 


Brother Father
This concept is called instructions from the Elder.

For example if I wanted a bright sun ray around the head of someone I have to place their backs to the sun and my lens into the light, something we are caution never ever to do. So when shooting consider what it is you are looking for, write it down, and be prepared to try until you get it. If you find that the subject gets tired come back to the concept and try again.

Be Flexible

The key to photography and life is that we have to be flexible, we cannot put ourselves into a place where only 2-3 methods work and that’s it. For instance I realize during the photo session that it was best that I spilt the group into smaller parts of 2 or even 1 person at a time this gave me less to focus on and made my images even more intimate.

Remember when shooting  an outdoor maternity session, you don’t have to show the woman’s tummy but with the proper use of camera angles, moving your subject, and interacting with them, you can begin to see a huge increase in the quality of your images. Anstle Adams once said: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” and that’s what your doing at any photo session creating moments that can never be reproduced so take your time plan, prepare and execute.