Friday, April 19, 2019

Hands-On With Tamron’s Fabulous 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro - My New Favorite Lens!

Good Morning Everybody,

LaDawn and I begin our travels around the globe in just about a week.  This time we’re heading to South America for about a month hitting Lima, Peru; Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley; the Amazon River for a Piranha Pedicure – OK, just kidding about the pedicure. 

We return to Sedona, AZ for about a week for a photography conference and then back to South America for another few weeks exploring the Galapagos Islands. These South American visits are both “bucket list”  trips and we are really looking forward to them. And… I will be packing my favorite travel lens for the entire trip.

My Favorite Travel Lens – Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Lens [link]

I know, I know – that is a mouthful of a name for this lens so how about I just refer to it as my Tamron 16-300mm lens for the rest of the article. Sure, I carry a few other lenses in our travels but this lens is my absolute FAV.

Here’s why I like to travel light. I seldom travel with my Canon 5D Mark 3 (never did upgrade to the Mark 4). I’ve always liked my Canon 7D Mark 2 and have been using it as my primary camera for my weddings and travels. The main reasons – it allows me to travel with lighter optics when considering various international travel/weight restrictions. And, the “frame rate” rate is 9.5 FPS vs. 6 FPS for my 5D Mark 2. When shooting wildlife, this faster FPS is a necessity. There are other reasons too which I can easily cover in a future article or two.

But now let’s get back to my favorite lens – the Tamron 16-300mm – the image stabilized macro lens. As a Canon shooter, my go-to lens has been Canon’s 18-200mm IS lens – it’s a good all around lens and worked fine for most shooting situations.  I just always wished it was a bit wider and just a tab longer.

After doing a little research last year, I saw that Tamron had some interesting zooms in their APS sized lens arsenal, in particular, their 16-300mm lens and their 18-400mm lens, and I decided to explore further. I already was set in the long lens department going all the way out to 600mm so that sort of reduced the need for me to acquire the 18-400mm version even because of it’s long reach. Like I said, I wanted a little more on the short side of the zoom range. 

What I liked about the 16-300mm lens was that it was just a bit wider than my old standard Canon 18-200mm lens.  OK, your saying – “What, just two silly millimeters wider?” Come on DAZ, give me a break….  But wait, a silly 2mm difference translates to an additional 8 degrees of wide-angle wonderfulness – many times just enough to make or break the photo.  Think in terms of a 35mm full frame optic – 18mm on an APS size camera is equivalent to 28mm on a full frame camera.  16mm on an APS size camera is equivalent to just under 25mm on a full frame camera.  To me, that’s a big difference! Add to that the 300mm Tele reach and I’ve got pretty much a universal optic attached to my camera.

So How Universal Is The Lens Really?
Last year we traveled nearly two months around the Mediterranean countries – Spain, France, and Italy; crossed the Atlantic on a cruise ship; and traveled to Mexico for three more weeks.

I gave my friends at Tamron a call and asked if I could test drive their 16-300 lens – they were very gracious to oblige me. Over nearly two months of our travels, I took 8770 photos all of which were shot on the Canon 7D Mk2.  7320 of those images were made with Tamron 16-300mm lens – that’s 83.5% of all the images I made in two months of shooting – sounds kind of universal to me.

When I analyzed it even further I found that out of all my images, I made nearly 25% at the 16-17mm and 201-300mm settings. That percentage represents images I could not have gotten with the reduced zoom range of the Canon 18-200mm lens – like I said, I love this lens!  This lens simply makes travel photography fast, fun, and efficient!

Let’s Take A Look At a Few Images At 16-17mm
I’ve been making a big “fuss” about the wide angle benefits of this lens.  Let’s take a look at some of the images I would have missed with a slightly longer (less wide) lens (i.e. 18mm lens).

Whether it’s photographing wine cellars in Spain, scenic views for the top of Montserrat, vineyards in France, fresh markets in France, picturesque towns in Cinque Terre, the tight spaces of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, or beautiful sunsets in Cabo, Mexico; this lens captured exactly what I was looking for compositionally and esthetically. And, I loved that no lens changes were involved.
Now Let’s Take A Look At a Few Images At 201-300mm
Within the zoom range of 201-300mm, I was easily able to capture a lot more images without a lens change. I hardly ever carry a lens longer than 200mm because they are so inconvenient for our travels, size, weight… So, the greater than 200mm Tamron range gave me that much more versatility in my shooting easy and simply.

Although I’m a wide-angle fanatic, I still like my macro images, birds in flight, my “reach out and touch somebody” candid's, distant landscapes and seascapes. Check out the images below to see what I mean.
And All the Other Images In-between
Like I said earlier, about 25% of the images I made with this lens were at focal lengths shorter or longer than what I would normally use with the standard Canon 18-200mm optic, so, as it turns out, that’s a very important option for me and why I think this is such a fantastic lens, especially for traveling.

For all the images I made at the other focal lengths, I found the lens fast and easy to work. Build quality is decent, color is great, sharpness is just fine, and focus is reasonably fast. One note here – when shooting birds in flight, I wish it was just a bit faster in acquiring focus.  For just about everything else it was just fine.

So in addition to the images I shared above let me show you a few more images that I think capture the essence of what a travel lens is supposed to do for you, mainly keep lens changes at a minimum, be able to compose and shoot an image quickly, maintain excellent color and focus, and be image stabilized sufficiently to be able to take images in reduced light situations.

Here we go…

This first image illustrates the benefits of the image stabilization with this lens.  This image was made at 1/15 second in a very dark wine cellar in Spain. Everything is plenty darn sharp for my purposes. 
I even found myself able to capture images at even slower shutter speeds if I was especially careful in how I held the camera and lens.

I love these next two images as well.  When traveling on cruise ships, LaDawn and I enjoy the entertainment on board these amazing ships. Last Fall we made the first trans-Atlantic crossing of the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. These ships are simply spectacular in every respect and, in spite of the 6,000 plus passengers on board, it just does not feel crowded. Nevertheless, the entertainment and shows are “first class”.
The first image above is from the stage show “Hairspray” – a fun theatrical romp if there ever was one. The second from another great show on the ship entitled, “Flight”. This lens lets me capture as little or as much of the shows as I wanted because of it super wide zoom range.
This next shot is from the ship’s ice show, another entertainment experience not to miss when cruising on Royal Caribbean's  “Oasis” class ships.

These next two images below give you a clear understanding of the zoom range and capabilities of this lens.  Both images were made during our travels through Cinque Terre, Italy.
The first images show the scene of the terraced vineyards on the side of the hill at 16mm.  Look for the tiny structure in the distance about half way up the hill – I’ve boxed it in.  Now, look at this second image of that structure itself taken at 300mm.  You can barely find it in the first image but this Tamron lens sure pulls it in for its close-up.

The list goes on and on. Here are a few more photos from our myriad travels from Europe, USA, and Mexico over those two months. 
The Tamron lens was the perfect solution for our adventures capturing sunrises to sunsets and about everything in-between.

I find the Tamron 16-300mm lens the ideal lens for travel, or really just about any casual photographic need. It is the lens that spends most of its time locked onto my Canon 7D Mark 2 for just about everything we do photographically. The zoom range is just about perfect for  all my photographic needs whether that be travel or a quick assignment for any of the various civic duties I’m involved in.

But most importantly, it is now going to be one of my go-to lenses for wedding photography.  That’s right, I can think of no other lens that will give me the versatility in shooting that this lens will give me on the job. Reducing the need to change lenses will definitely give me the opportunity to capture more of those special moments that unfold over the course of the wedding day. I can’t wait to give it a try at my next wedding!
Hey Gang,

That’s it for me today. I hope you enjoy the post today.  I’m thinking I’ll  do an update after I photograph my upcoming wedding.  We’ll see you then.

Cheers, David

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

It Looked Like A Snow Day to Me, What an Honor & More…

Good Morning Everybody,
I hope everyone survived the “Deep Freeze” last week. I read that parts of the mid-west, including good ol’ KY were colder than Antarctica – WHEW!!! Too cold for me. But, then again, I wasn’t here. 

Holed Up In Whistler, Canada
Yep, I was holed up in Whistler, B.C. Canada – home to the fabulous Whistler/Blackcomb ski resort [link]. The temps only dropped to around 30 degrees on the coldest evenings – I sure loved that considering the temperatures back in the states.
This trip has been part of annual ski trip that goes back 23 years.  I was asked to join this group of illustrious photographers and skiers a number of years ago and finally made it an annual occasion these last several years.

My skiing days are pretty well numbered as gravity treats this “vintage” body of mine with less curtesy and respect, meaning I hit the ground harder these days;~)  But, I still enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery and all things snow related especially on those breathtaking sunny days.  The good news is that we had about four spectacular sun-filled days on this trip and the views were fabulous!

One of the highlights for me of this year’s trip was our day long photo-walk with my good friends Paul Wright of Wright Moment Photography [link] and Dennis Walsh of Walsh Photographic Design [link]. Both Paul and Dennis are great photographers – that’s Paul’s image above of the speed skater on the left and Dennis’ “light painted” car image on the right.  Head over to their respective websites and prepare to be “blown away”!  We all got some beautiful images that day. It was just a really good time to be hanging with like-minded photographers enjoying both the art and craft of the afternoon’s shoot. I highly recommend that everyone stir those creative juices and give a photo walk with friends a try!

What an Honor – ASP Honorary Educational Associate
The week before I traveled to Whistler, Canada LaDawn and I were in Atlanta at Imaging USA, one-of-the-best photography conventions in the country. We both really like attending this convention because, in addition to the wonderful learning experiences, we also love the opportunity to catch up with all our vendor and photography friends that we don’t often see.  But this trip was also extra special this year.

I received a calI in mid-November telling me that I was to be presented with the American Society of Photography’s Honorary Educational Associate Degree. Wow! I couldn't believe it! That’s some pretty good company you are keeping in that league of photographers with the likes of Julianne Kost, Clay Blackmore, Tony Corbell, just to name a few.

You know, one receives these kind of honors because they shared their knowledge with so many photographers worldwide. But for me it was different. I was thrilled to have received the honor because of all that I learned from so many photographers worldwide that I’ve encountered in my life journey.  My THANKS goes to the ASP Board for this special award – Cheers!

Don’t Forget PhotoPro Expo February 21 – 25, 2019!

As you know I was deeply involved in PhotoPro Expo [link] for many years. But about three years ago we handed the reins off to my good friends Bert and Al Behnke.  What I love about Bert and Al running the show is the fact that they can bring to it a brand new perspective keeping it fresh relevant and alive – and they have done that again for this year’s extravaganza! Just check out all the PhotoPro Expo details right here

I think one of this year’s Expo highlights is the day-long program presented by Kevin Dooley, wildlife photographer extraordinaire! Kevin is the photographer/ licensed safari guide LaDawn and I spent 4 weeks with on Safari in South Africa last year at this time. Inexcusably…I’m still editing through over 45,000 images from those weeks!

Kevin’s work is astounding and his program should not be missed! Heck, seeing his program will be almost as good as going on a real live safari;~)  Definitely check it out!

Kevin and I have been working together to put another exciting photo/travel experience together for 2020. This time it’s going to be in Botswana on the exciting Mashatu Preserve [link]. Here are the dates: March 20-30, 2020. 

Registration is limited as on our previous safaris. In fact the Safari is already half sold out with many of last year’s Safari attendees jumping in early on this one, too. Check out some of the details right here. Hope you too can join us on this amazing adventure.

BTW, I’ll be presenting at the PhotoPro Expo convention this year. You can find me in the Expo Theater on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. I’ve put together a brand new program entitled “How My Astral Photography Has Eclipsed My Wedding Photography”.  In it I’ll cover many tips and tricks on how to photograph a Total Eclipse of the Sun.  I promise, it will be a fun program. Many additional free programs to follow after mine on both Saturday and Sunday during the Trade Show hours. Here is the link to all the programing right here.

Hey Gang,
That’s it for me today. I hope you enjoyed the update. There are some great learning opportunities coming up – hope to see you at a few of them.
Cheers for now, David

Friday, January 18, 2019

I’m Back In The Saddle Again & I’m Going To Photoshop World!!!

Good Morning Everybody,
I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me – as you know LaDawn and I are traveling the world very extensively these days and enjoying the heck out of it! That has kept my writing – I hate to say – at a minimum. Check out the globe to the right – 2018 was crazy!!!  Whoops, I see I missed Ireland and Iceland too ;~)

I was just saying to LaDawn just a few days ago that I miss the writing quite a bit and wanted to get back to it again. That opportunity is going to present itself to me in the very near future and that is very cool news!

I’ve got so many great images to share with you from our travels and so many photo tips and tricks I’ve picked up over these last several months, it’s time to write them down right here at and share them with you. So, stay tuned, things are going to start popping around here in the next few weeks!

Hey Gang, I’m Going To Be At Photoshop World Again!!!
That’s right, we were somewhere on the road, Mexico I think, when I got a request from my buddy, Scott Kelby, to speak at an upcoming Photoshop World – I have to say I was thrilled!!!  I kicked around the possible dates and program topics with his team and we settled in on Photoshop World Las Vegas in August 21 –23, 2019.

Topics still to be announced.

Oh,  You Can Attend – All Expenses Paid - For Free!!!
Well, that is if you are the big winner – you even get your choice of convention locations.
OK, all kidding aside – it takes about two seconds to enter and the deadline for entering - January 31, 2019 - is just two weeks away!

Just head over to this [link right here] to get all the details and get your name in the “hopper” to win! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to being at Photoshop World again.

Anyone who has been to Photoshop in the past knows it’s a BLAST to attend.

I still remember my first Photoshop World experience many years ago in San Francisco – I attended with my buddy Kent.  We soaked up everything were could over those three days, we took copious notes, we were fired up with our new found knowledge, we couldn’t wait to put all those great ideas to work once we returned home – we were crazy excited!!!

BUT…. somewhere at about 30,000 feet above the earth while traveling home, some kind of cosmic energy sort of erased parts of all that valuable knowledge we thought we picked up in California.  We found out that once we landed and got back in our respective studios, we were missing key parts of that knowledge – OMG!!!!
But not to worry, that’s why it’s so great to go to Photoshop World.  Because…. the more you attend, the more your retain all that fantastic knowledge!  And, what a great set of friends you make on those return visits. That said, Photoshop World is not to be missed!!! I sure hope I see you there!

Hey gang, that’s it from me today but like I said, stay tuned, more on the way!!!
Cheers for now, DavidType your summary here Type rest of the post here