My name is Ajit Menon and I am a hobbyist photographer from New York City. I started shooting seriously in the summer of 2012 when I procured the Nikon D800. The shift from casual amateur to serious hobbyist is itself an interesting story; however this article is focused more on a subtle shift in focus over the last couple of months and beginning to shoot both with a camera I was (until now) too snobbish to accept and also more casual subject matter which I found hard to fit into my (perceived) style of photography.
Antarctica…. a place I never thought I would visit. A place on the bottom side of Earth where few people go. Most of my friends, when they learned I would be taking this trip, asked: “why Antarctica? What’s to see besides penguins, seals and ice?” For me and most photography friends of mine, Antarctica is on our bucket list. Not just for the photographic opportunities, but for the natural beauty all around that cannot be described by any word other than awesome. My partner in this adventure was my 34 year old, world traveler daughter. We are both amateur photographers, me more amateur than her. This was an extraordinary father-daughter bonding trip.
In my dream life, I would be a fashion and documentary photographer, but until that happens, I’m a barista. Every day I show up to work, serve the same customers, make the same drinks, hit the same cash button on the register, wipe the same tables and bake the same pastries. It can get a little mundane after two years. Everyone has to work, pay the bills, put in your due time so you can play later, right? This was my thought process for years. I always thought I would need to work a full-time job in order to support my true passion, creating images. But in reality, why can’t the two go hand-in-hand?
I have been shooting the night sky since my grandfather gave me my first 35mm SLR in junior high. Today’s digital SLRs allow us to shoot amazing things that I could only dream of a couple decades ago! In this article, I will go over some of the tips and suggestions for capturing the stunning beauty of the Milky Way.
Zoom lenses are convenient, as everyone knows. I’d imagine that the vast majority of us started our photography with a simple 18-55 kit lens – I know I did, and I used it to take some of my favorite photos. However, it never seemed like a good fit for my style of photography. My first prime lens was the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR macro, a truly fantastic lens. At the time, I had never attempted macro photography. It is no exaggeration to say that the 105mm macro opened new worlds for me, and its sharpness was unbelievable. I had discovered the magical world of prime lenses.
Astrophotography is a hobby rapidly gaining popularity thanks to the fast advancing CMOS sensor technology. Over a decade ago, the light recording material employed in astrophotography was primarily chemical emulsion. Its low sensitivity makes it very hard to record the weak signal from deep space. In addition, the lack of real-time feedback is a huge source of frustration for beginners. Operational errors such as out-of-focus can only be realized after several nights of hard work after the film is developed. In the mid 90s, the advent of cooled CCD cameras provided solutions to both the sensitivity and real-time feedback problems. However, their high prices and miserably small sensor areas limited their uses to only a few kinds of astrophotography and to very enthusiastic astrophotographers. While CCDs revolutionized astronomical research, this technology has never really changed the landscape of amateur astrophotography. The true turning point took place in 2002. After Fujifilm announced its FinePix S2Pro DSLR and showcased amazing astronomical pictures taken by this camera, people started to seriously explore DSLRs for astrophotography. DSLRs can provide real-time feedback, which is very important for beginners. They have sensitivities not much worse than CCDs, and DSLRs with large sensors (APS-C) are quite affordable nowadays. Today’s landscape in astrophotography is shaped by a series of CMOS-based DSLRs from Canon, but DSLRs and mirrorless cameras based on Sony sensors are gaining popularity very quickly.
Earlier this year I had a chance to go on a safari to the Serengeti to see the Great Migration and other wonders. After reading Gord Aker’s excellent article about his trip to Africa I thought it could be interesting to make a field report and share my experience with the brand new Sigma 150-600mm Sport which accompanied me during the trip.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of stories popping up about a lucky break from a friend, a relative, a previous connection, and those lucky breaks launching a career. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (I am kind of jealous!), but I also notice how people keep asking for a story of how work and perseverance paid off instead. As a shy introvert with cheap gear, I thought my story might be something worth sharing with other Photography Life readers – I’ve relied entirely on my work to get where I am today.
I enjoy taking panoramic images of landscapes, cityscapes, street art or any other time when the view exceeds the frame. While an increasing number of cameras (particularly smartphones) are offering an in-camera panoramic mode, individual images and good stitching software is essential for high quality images.