Nathan Griffin Photographs

latest updates

Hot Air Balloon

I thought I would write a slightly off-topic article on what to do if you get your iphone wet. I dropped mine in the toilet once; they will survivie if you take the proper steps to dry it out. It is probably applicable to other electronic items, but I'm much less likely to drop my 40D in the toilet.

I just finished a short write-up on what kind of memory card you need for your new Digital SLR camera. It covers different types, what size I recommend, and some suggested brands that I trust. I hope to follow up with some more articles about specific cameras as they come out.

I have decided to add some new ads to my site from Amazon. Up to this point I have only served up ads from Google. They are OK, sometimes, but the new ads from Amazon are hand picked with products that I either have purchased myself or would recommend. You can see them in the sidebar and in select articles. Proceeds from the ad revenues help to support this site. Thanks!

I have very much enjoyed the use of my aluminum Gitzo G2220 Explorer tripod that I aquired a few years ago. At the time, I struggled with wanting the carbon fiber version but couldn't afford it. Since then, I have come to find that in my situation, and for many others, a carbon fiber tripod is simply a waste of money. I just wrote this post that goes into some more detail on the advantages and disadvantages of carbon fiber and aluminum tripods.

I just upgraded my Lightroom software from version 3 to version 4. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 isn't a big jump over version 3, but it is still nice and seems to run a bit smoother (faster). I will hopefully writeup a review in the near future once I get some more time on it.

Bluebonnet Forecast for Centeral Texas, 2012: It's now the third week in March and Bluebonnets are in full bloom. A wet winter has allowed the bluebonnet seeds to germinate. The very warm winter has caused the flowers to bloom a few weeks earlier than normal. You can expect the blooms to hit full tilt over the next week and be gone mid to late April. Make the most of this wonderful time of the year and go get some pictures!

Bluebonnets

While writing my review of the CyberSync Radio Triggers, I discovered that a problem I had with the system becoming unresponsive was actually a setting on my Nikon SB-28. It turns out that there is a 'Standby Mode' and that it is very useful to switch the flash out of this mode if you are using the strobe off-camera. Here is a quick instructional on how to switch your Nikon Strobe out of standby mode.

The page that I wrote a few days ago about lens hoods got me to thinking about other camera accessories. If you have ever purchased a new camera in a store, I'm sure you have been told to purchase a protective UV filter for your lens. I now have a page dedicated to this product: Do you really need a UV filter to protect your lens?

As much as I try to get it right when shooting, lots of my pictures end up with crooked horizons. Adobe Lightroom has a great straighten tool to help you get things aligned; I just wrote a step by step guide on how to use it to straighten the horizon in your pictures.

One accessory that, despite being overpriced for a simple piece of plastic, is worth the money is my Canon EW-83J lens hood. I hardly every take it off and it does it's job well. What exactly is that job? I have written a small page explaining what is a lens hood and why it is a good camera accessory to use.

I have started to really enjoy using off-camera flash for my people pictures over the past few years. A product that has been helping me with this is the CyberSync CST and CSRB remote flash triggers. I just put up a page talking about what they do well and where they fall short.

It's that time of year again. Summer is in full heat, the start of school is just around the corner, and the annual Lake Travis Hot Air Balloon Flights are set for this weekend. The Balloons will be taking off from the Mansfield Dam area at sunrise (6:52) on Saturday, August 6th. We had a great time seeing this event a few years back - here are the pictures:

Central Texas and Hill Country Bluebonnet Forecast for Spring of 2011: The bluebonnets are starting to bloom a bit on the highways around Austin. The numbers seem to be a bit down from years past and I'm predicting that the blooms are going to be more sparse than typical, especially compared to last year.

Bluebonnet numbers are based in part on rain accumulation during the previous fall and winter. We have had low rain totals during the fall and winter and that will hamper the bluebonnet crop this year. There will still be some out and about and we will try to get some family pictures soon. Areas around Burnet and Marble Falls typically have high bluebonnet numbers.

Adobe Lighroom is my photo editing and managing software of choice, and I would like to start a series of pages to explain some aspects of the software. I'm starting with an instructional post on how to convert your raw pictures in Lightroom to Adobe's dng format.

A lot of photographers obsess over keeping their equipment prestine and get very upset when they see dust inside their lenses. Luckily, it's no problem at all - I have written a quick article explaining why you shouldn't bother trying to remove dust from your camera lens.

Bluebonnets in Central Texas are in full bloom! We got out last weekend to take pictures of our boys in the Bluebonnets last weekend near Burnet. 2010 is turning out to be a great year for Bluebonnets because of the rain we got last fall and winter. I used a strobe on a stand to take these bluebonnet pictures with the family. It's a good idea to use a flash for taking pictures of people with the flowers; the flash fills in shadows in the face and lets flowers in the background be darker and rich with colors.

I have had fun recording vide clips with our Samsung HMX series video camera. As the clips are gaining in number, I have been forced to do someting with them. I have started using Apple's Final Cut Express to put together a few short movies for our family. It is fun constructing these little movies, and I have found a quick and easy way to learn Final Cut Express.

When I first got my Digital SLR, I envisioned that I would start with one lens and eventually add others to the bag. Over a year later, I am still shooting with only one lens. It's mainly out of necessity since I don't have the means to buy another lens right now, but I have discovered a few ways that this is a blessing and how shooting with only one lens can make you a better photographer.

The Central Texas Balooning Association (CTBA) has set the date for the 2009 Lake Travis Flight from Mansfield Dam in Austin. This a great event that I went to last year - See my Lake Travis Hot Air Balloon Pictures Here from 2008. It will take place around sun-up on Saturday, August 1st. The general public is allowed to get up and be next to the balloons as they take off. It's a wonderful time to get some very colorful pictures! One piece of advice: for budding photographers getting used to their new shiny equipment, you probably want to leave your tripod at home. I was suprised at the number of people struggling with camera tripods. When the balloons start to rise, you don't have time to mess around with a tripod. Just boost the ISO on your fancy digital SLR and go to town!

Samsung HMX-H104 Camcorder Review - We now have twin boys, born about 3 weeks ago! In preparation for this event, I purchased our first video camera. I wanted to give some of the highlights Samsung's new HMX series of camcorders and a few tips on what to look for in video cameras.

How to Get the Best Deal on Canon Cameras - Here are a few tips on finding the lowest prices on Canon bodies and lenses. I saved a big chunk of money off my last camera purchase using these simple tips.

Canon 17-55 f2.8 Lens Review - I have finally gotten around to writing about the lens I chose for my Canon 40D. There is not a better all-around lens for Canon. It's a very sharp and fast lens for taking great pictures in low light.

Canon 40D Review - It's really not as much of a review as me explaining how I chose the 40D. It has been a fantiastic camera! Even though newer versions are already out, I still am happy with it and the pictures it produces.

Graduated ND Filters vs. HDR - I enjoy using ND Graduated filters, but I have been playing around with a technique called HDR. I have written a short page about some of the disadvantages and advantages of using filters and HDR post-processing.

I updated my "about me" page to include a little bit about why I got into photography. I bought my first camera, the Nikon FE2, when I was out of work. Financially not the best move, but I did need something to get me inspired and productive. I'm not sure if it helped me get a job sooner, but it did bring some joy to a tough time and continues to be a great outlet for me.

Central Texas Bluebonnet Forecast for 2009 - Bluebonnet season is almost upon us here in central Texas. Unfortunately, it will probably be a low year for bluebonnets. Bluebonnet blooms in the spring are dependant on rainfall in the fall, which was very low in central texas in the fall of last year. At any rate, there will still be some bluebonnets out there if you are willing to look for them a bit harder. See my bluebonnet page for some tips on where to find them in the Austin area.

I downloaded and installed the new firmware version 1.1.1 for my Canon 40D today. It fixes about 4 or 5 very specific bugs; none of which affect menus that I use, but it is always good to be up-to-date.

I have a new gallery page of pictures up for the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas. This is a great place for photographers and nature lovers to visit - a top tourist attraction in Austin. Most of the pictures were taken with my Canon 40D, but a few were left over from the Nikon FE2 and Velvia days.

oriental pond at zilker park botanical gardens in austin, texas

I have also updated my technical homepage to include a brief overview of the equipment I have used and am currently using.

Additional comments are added for my Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead Review. I wrote this initially a year ago and wanted to update with how the head is holding up. It's performance is improved with some wear on the ball and by using the head with a heavier camera (currently the Canon 40D and 17-55 f2.8).

I have trimmed down my review of the B40D L Plate; since I have broken much of the information of what an L-Plate is used for to another page, I didn't want the content duplicated.

I have written a page specifically on what an L-Plate is used for and why it is so important for use with a tripod.

With the help of my sweet and talented wife, I have updated the appearance of the website. Much better and I hope it will be easier to update in the future.

I have rewritten portions of my instructional page for Neutral Density Graduated Filters. This page is one of my most popular and I hope to be adding other pages in the future to discuss how the graduated ND filter is still relevant for digital photography.

Happy New Year!! I have updated the copyright information watermark on all of my pictures. This kind of thing used to take me forever, until I discovered how to do it using Actions in Photoshop.

Fayetteville, Arkansas: These pictures are from our trip to Arkansas late this Summer. I also have a few positive comments about our stay at the "Inn at the Mill" hotel.

Fayetteville Arkansas Gallery

I recently had the privilege of taking a few pictures at the wedding of Chris and Kylee Hay; the bride is my wife's cousin. Normally, taking pictures of people is quite intimidating to me, but I had a great time and got a few good shots for the family. I have written a quick how-to on being a second shooter behind the guy getting paid

Wedding Cake Detail Picture

I have decided to sell my Nikon 105mm macro lens on Ebay. Tough call, but I have noticed that they are going for some pretty nice coin these days. I think that the resurgence of Nikon digital SLR's has piqued everyone's interest in quality glass. This lens is the best I have used, but it is time to let it go. I hope to use some of that money to get some basic lighting equipment and try my hand at some strobist experimentation!

Really Right Stuff (RRS) B40D L-Plate Review: I finally finished my review of the Really Right Stuff L-Plate that I purchased for use on my Canon 40D. I wouldn't take the time to write this much on a product if it didn't make a difference in how I can take pictures - I love it!

Today I have posted a gallery of pictures from Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We were in Amarillo last month and I got to sneak out for a morning of picture taking. I will definitely have to come back to this location - it is a great spot with stunning scenery.

Picture of Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas.

I recently purchased an L-Plate from Really Right Stuff for the Canon 40D (Model B40D-L). It works great for those times when I get to drag around the tripod and makes all the difference in composing vertical shots. I hope to have a more detailed description in the near future.

I noticed that earlier in the week Canon introduced a new Camera, the 50D. Nothing earth shattering. The main difference is a higher resolution LCD on the back to better compete with what Nikon has had on their cameras since the D300. One downgrade that I noticed is on the top control dial. I only see two custom settings instead of the three that the 40D has. I can't imagine why they would reduce the number of custom settings on the dial. I use all three on the Canon 40D. Custom 1 is set for jpg shooting with slightly higher iso, Custom 2 is set for RAW and better image quality, Custom 3 is for tripod work with manual exposure, mirror lockup, and a 2 second timer.

I got to attend the annual balloon flights sponsored by the Central Texas Ballooning Association at Lake Travis this year. It was a great time and experience - kind of a miniature version of the festival in Albuquerque.

I have a gallery of hot air balloon pictures posted from this event.

Central Texas Hot Air Balloons

I added links from the Florida Gallery thumbnail pictures to enlarged versions with descriptions.

I got my old film gear up on Ebay for sale. The following items are on sale; the auctions end in 4 days:

Nikon FE2 Body

Nikon 50mm f1.4 Lens

Nikon 24mm f2.8 Lens

Really Right Stuff B-21 Body Plate

Nikon 62mm Polarizing Filter

Pictures from our trip to Florida are updated in the Gallery with their own page.

Florida Trip

I have updated the picture on the home page. This is one taken from our recent trip to Florida. I will have a Gallery up with some more pictures from that trip soon.

I am preparing to sell some of my film gear on Ebay this week. For sale will be my film body, the Nikon FE2, along with the 50mm and 24mm lenses. Since I received the new Canon 40D, I just can't see myself ever using the FE2, even if only for nostalgia! I will post links to the ebay sales when I get them up.

Today I received a new Camera, the Canon 40D! I chose the 17-55 f2.8 lens to go with the new body. I am very excited to be going digital and not have to scan slides anymore. It is a bit sad to be moving on from the Nikon FE2 and Velvia, but I think it is time. That rig served me well; I hope I can improve my photography as much with the Canon as I did with the FE2.

Texas Bluebonnet Picture Gallery - This writeup with pictures describes a great scenic drive around Burnet Texas to see the bluebonnets. Each of the pictures on the main page has links to enlarged pictures. I include a few tips for taking pictures of your family with the bluebonnets.

Bastrop State Park Gallery - I have added a new Gallery of pictures and a writeup on our trip to Bastrop State Park that we took last year. Pictures in the main page link to enlarged images.

Black and White Picture of Pine Tree at Bastrop State Park

Tips for Your First Cruise - I wrote this article to give a few pointers from our experiences with cruises. Also includes some of the pictures also shown in the Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas Gallery.

Minolta DimageScan Software and Windows Vista - Last month I had a tough time getting my Minolta Dimage 5400 scanner to work with a new install of Windows Vista. It turns out there are serious compatibility issues with DimageScan software and Vista.

I am going to start putting the latest post on this page to make it easier to track updates. Older post can be navigated through the Site Map.