Category Archives: Point and Shoot

Timing Really Is Everything!

Timing is everything, really! This is especially true with photography. Sometimes it’s more about your timing than your equipment. Fortune not only favors the bold, but also the well prepared.

When you go somewhere to take some photos, a little planning can go a long way in creating interesting and unique images, vs. snapshots. So, how does one prepare? Scouting a location you’re interested in helps. You can also use Google Earth and Maps to get an idea of what to expect. And, since there’s an app for virtually anything including photography, you should take advantage of them. Personally, I use one for my Android phone call PlanIt For Photographers. This app (and others like it) can tell you which direction the sun will rise and set, but also when the best light will happen. PlanIt also has the ability to tell me when and where the Moon will rise/set, along with the Milky Way!

A quick note about gear. It’s nice to have a high end, high dollar camera and lens. However, it’s not an absolute requirement. My gear costs a fraction of what some of the high end stuff does, but I don’t let that stop me. Learn how to use what you have to maximize the results you can achieve. I’ve done some night shots of city lights using my Sony RX100 (technically a point and shoot camera). To maximize my results, I put it on a tripod and used the timer to get my shots. My point is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear.  Use what you have to get started, and it may surprise you!

In addition to doing your homework and knowing when the best light is for a particular scene, you also need to bring some patience. There are times when the light may seem like it’s done and gone for the night, but it’s definitely worth it to wait. More than once I’ve been at a site, along with other photographers…the sun sets, and the others pack their bags and head for their cars. I waited, not long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at the most. And – BAM! The magic happens! Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:


The shot above is the Imperial Beach Pier. You can see that the sun has just about set.

Compare this shot to the one above it. They were taken from just about the same spot, but about 15-20 minutes later. Quite a difference!

This next shot was taken when the sun was low in the sky. The light was very nice, and I could have called it good and packed up.

Now in this case, I waited more than 15 minutes. I wanted to get the San Diego Waterfront all lit up.

Personally, I like the second shot much better. While the first version is nice, and I wouldn’t have a problem sharing it with anyone, the second one is much more appealing. In order to make this shot work, I put my Panasonic FZ1000 on a tripod, and used a delayed timer for the shutter (to help minimize vibration).

To sum up this post, here are the main points:
Prepare – use Google Earth/Maps or get an app (PlanIt or something similar).
Timing – get to the location and set up before best light.
Patience – the show may not be over when the sun has set, give it another 10 or 15 minutes.
City Lights – you may need to stay a little longer to catch the city all lit up (bring a tripod).

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

March Field Air Museum

It’s been a couple of years since my last visit to the March Field Air Museum (MFAM).  The reasons I had for making a return visit were first and foremost to see what was new.  Occasionally I pass by the museum which is located right off of the freeway in Riverside, and could see that some changes were being made.  My second reason was sort of a challenge.  MFAM has some strict rules about photography, such as no tripods, monopods, or camera bags.  I intended to follow those rules (although I never bring a tripod to air museums or air shows) and limit myself to minimal camera gear.  In this case, I brought my Olympus E-M5 with 45mm f/1.8 lens, Rokinon Fisheye lens, and my little Sony RX100.  Finally, the weather was changing and there were some fantastic clouds (not much rain), perfect dramatic backgrounds for airplane photos!

Walking up to the main building there are a couple of planes on display.  Just past those, you’ll notice several memorials.  They are all contained in what the museum calls the “Heritage Courtyard”.  The memorials include:

  • War Dog Memorial
  • P-38 Lightning Memorial
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) Memorial
  • 15th Air Force Wall
  • Freedom Wall

Be sure to take a little time and look over these memorials!


Once you’re inside the main building, you’ll see the SR-71.  You can’t help but see it since it dwarfs everything else inside the space.  There are an abundance of other displays along the walls surrounding the SR-71 that are worth spending some time visiting.  I spent some of my time walking around the SR-71.  There’s something about that plane that has intrigued me since I was a kid.  I just wish I was able to see one in the air.  I did learn something about the SR-71 from my Dad.  He mentioned to me recently that he worked at the Lockheed Skunkworks for several years, and during that time worked on the 1st SR-71.  My Dad had a long career in aircraft and retired from McDonnell Douglas with over 30 years.  I knew he worked for Lockheed before his time at McDonnell Douglas, but never gave it any thought that he worked in the Skunkworks or on the SR-71.  How cool is that!

When you’ve allowed enough time to explore indoors, it’s time to head outside.  Just beyond the doors leading out there are dozens of airplanes.  There’s a little bit of everything from WWII Warbirds to surprisingly modern age aircraft.  I won’t cover everything there is to see, you can do that on your own.  I do however, want to share some of the highlights, at least from my perspective.

  • The B-29 “Three Feathers III”.  I have a strange connection to this particular plane.  In fact, I felt compelled to head straight across the yard to see it and spent quite a bit of time with it.  In case you missed it, you can read about my connection to the wonderful plane and it’s history here:  Three Feathers Part 1, Three Feathers Part 2, and Three Feathers Part 3.
  • MIG Alley.  MFAM has an excellent collection of MIGs, from the MIG 15 to the MIG 23.
  • YF-14A Tomcat.  This is another plane that I haven’t seen in the air.  While I have seen several in different air museums, I haven’t been able to get a good shot (photo) of one.  Air museums tend to be packed pretty tight, and it can be tough to get a clean shot, and mine always leaves me disappointed.  But not this time!
  • The F-4 Phantom.  The Phantom is one of my favorites and luckily I have seen them in the air.  MFAM has several models of the F-4 on display!
  • The B-17G.  I have a lot of admiration for this plane and the brave souls that flew them.  I was able to take a tour inside of one and they are a whole lot smaller on the inside then they look on the outside.  You really had to be a skinny kid to move around inside one.  And although the B-17 looks formidable with guns sticking out all around it, that thin sheet metal didn’t provide much protection for those within.  I can’t imagine being inside one with flak bursting all around, slicing holes through that thin skin.

So far I’ve done nothing but talk about the planes.  Now I want to talk a little about photography.  One of things about the gear that I chose for this trip is that it is very light and easy to move around with.  I never felt bogged down by my gear and it didn’t get in the way of making photos.  My Sony RX100 is technically considered a point and shoot, and it looks the part.  What sets it apart is its 1 inch sensor (I know its not exactly 1″ for anyone wanting to scream at me, but its close enough).  Suffice it to say that it’s much larger than the typical point and shoot and the image quality in turn is much better.  It also allows me to shoot RAW and many other point and shoot cameras don’t.  I like it so much that I ended up using it a majority of the time.  In fact, I used it for panoramas, black and white, and HDR.  I probably could have left the E-M5 in the car and used the RX100 exclusively.  Yes, for some things I think it’s that good!

My E-M5 with 45mm f/1.8 performed perfectly.  Nothing at an air museum moves very fast so tracking autofocus wasn’t an issue.  The 45mm (90mm equivalent) was perfect for filling the frame and getting what I’d call more intimate shots.  And I did end up using the Rokinon Fisheye lens a little.  You need to be careful not to over use the fisheye and I was selective with my subject and composition.

What about the pictures?  Good question, here they are:







If you like Warbirds and other types of Military aircraft, you owe it to yourself to stop by March Field Air Museum. I just hit some of my favorites and highlights, so check it out for yourself!

That’s it for this post, until next time, Happy Shooting!

My New Pocket Rocket

Catchy title, isn’t it! I’m referring to my Sony RX100. Technically it’s a point and shoot camera, but that’s a good thing, really!

You may be wondering why I got myself a point and shoot (P&S) when I have so many other choices. That’s because I’m always on the the hunt for a small camera with excellent image quality.  After doing quite a bit of research, I picked the Sony RX100.  Yes, this is the original.  There are 2 revisions to this model on the market.  As nice as these newer versions are, they come with a hefty price tag and I decided that I really didn’t need the additional features.  Some of these features seem like gimmicks and marketing ploys, and I probably wouldn’t use them.  My primary “must haves” were excellent image quality, shoot in RAW, and it had to fit in my pocket.  The RX100 does all of this, and more.

Before I share a few examples let me say that this little P&S is not a DSLR replacement much less a M43 (micro 4/3rd’s) replacement.  As good as it is, it does have its limitations.  One of the things that makes it so good and also the reason it won’t replace my other cameras (like my Canon 60D or Olympus E-M5) is it’s sensor.  The little RX100 comes with a 1″ sensor.  This is much, much larger than what typically comes in a P&S camera.  The 1″ sensor is also much smaller than the sensor in either my 60D or E-M5.  The other thing that makes the RX100 so good is it’s Carl Zeiss lens.  It’s fast (f1.8 on the wide end) and provides excellent image quality with very little color fringing or chromatic aberration (so far).  It also has an image stabilizer and can shoot up to 10 frames per second.

I probably won’t try to use my RX100 at an air show for fast moving air planes.  The long end of the lenses zoom range is only 100mm, and while it can shoot 10 frames per second, it doesn’t have a view finder, either electronic or optical.  It would be very difficult to track and shoot the planes as they quickly pass by using just the screen on the back of the camera.  And if I did manage to grab a shot or 2 the planes would look like little dots.  I would however take it along for photos of the static displays of aircraft on the ground, or in an air museum.

The main reason I got the RX100 was for those times when I don’t want to bring anything that wouldn’t fit in my pocket.  There are times when even my trusty Olympus E-P3 or E-M5 can be bulky (in comparison the RX100).  I’ve been on a quest to shrink my photo gear footprint for a while now.  Since I got the RX100 and used it alongside my E-M5 I think I’m pretty close to where I want to be.  So much so that I’m even thinking of selling a couple of my other cameras.  I’ll keep the Canon 60D and big lenses mostly for air shows, the E-M5 for just about anything else, and now the RX100 as a backup or primary camera when I want to go very fast and light.

There are a lot of P&S cameras on the market.  Some are ok, like the Canon S90 to S120.  Nikon and Fuji also have some very good P&S cameras.  I’m sold on the RX100 mainly because of the image quality and other reasons I already mentioned above.  This obviously isn’t a scientific review, just my thoughts and reasoning for picking up this great little camera.  Here are some examples:

The images above with the exception of RAW conversion and resizing were not “enhanced” in any other way.

That’s it for now, there will be more to follow in future posts as I’m able to spend more time with the RX100. Until next time, Happy Shooting!