Second time around

Went out and shot another STA Girls Soccer game today. It was the JV vs Shawnee Mission East. I made sure to practice proper lens holding technique and my keeper rate improves with the Tokina 300mm 2.8 lens. Of course another shortfall that I soon discovered was that the auto-focusing system on the D70s is seriously limited when paired with this lens. But I already had an idea about that before I went out. Just means I’ll have to work that much harder!

STA JV Girls vs Shawnee Mission East-5113

D70s w/300mm 2.8 Tokina lens


I went out to shoot  the STA Girls soccer game versus St. Teresa last weekend. I was excited because not only was I there to cover a excellent match between 2 top teams, I also could try out my newest lens, the Tokina 300mm 2.8. Upon returning hom after a day of shooting, I discovered to my dismay that most all the shots were out of focus and extremely soft. My first inclination was to blame the lens. However upon further testing, it became clear that the lens was not the issue. A few static shots showed the lens to produce tack sharp images.  The question then, was what did cause the issue? My shutter speed was more than adequate to capture the action.  There was plenty of available light as well. After confirming that both my camera bodies functioned properly, I was dismayed to discover the fault lied with me, or my long lens holding technique to be precise. The way the Tokina lens is designed, you cannot hold it by the focusing ring like normal lens due to fact that the ring actually spins when the camera is trying to focus. (A design flaw corrected in the later revision of the lens.) So you must hold the lens by the end of the barrel.  Needless to say after a few times test holding the lens, I discovered that I wasn’t holding the lens steady enough. While it was disappointing to come away with almost no images of the soccer game (which ended in an overtime thriller), I was at least happy to recognize my short comings. When things go wrong, it isn’t always the camera or the lens. Often times the blame lies with the photographer alone.

STA vs STA-4380-2

D70s w/80-200mm 2.8 push/pull lens

Time to shoot once more!

Been doing a lot of studying about off camera lighting and improving my photography in general. My Tokina 300mm 2.8 lens arrived via Fedex today. I am so excited! I have really taken to heart the advice of photographers more successful than I; the photographer makes the photo, not the gear’. Instead of investing in newer bodies, I choose to instead invest in fast glass. Camera bodies will come and go; glass is forever.  In the future I’ll have to take the time to post a few reviews of my gear. That will have to come later.

My personal goal for 2014 is to step out and grow as a photographer. I want to experiment with off camera lighting and also branch out into different sports. I believe tennis and lacrosse are going to be my next targets. Gotta start studying lacrosse so I know how the game works! Plus it would be nice to know where I can and cannot be positioned so I don’t get hit with a stray Looking forward to improving as a photographer! Stay tuned!


Dual Nikon D70s DSLRs, Tokina 300mm 2.8 and Nikon 80-200mm 2.8 lenses.



Tokina 300mm 2.8 ATX lens

As luck would have it, I have happened upon a sweet deal for yet another Tokina 300mm 2.8 lens. I got the lens for around half of what it was selling at other places. I can’t wait to test it out! Yeah, this means I’m gonna be eating gruel for the next 30 days, but it’s so worth it. I couldn’t afford a newer Nikon version since it was near 4.5 times the price of this lens, Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get some shots of some soccer next week! And this time I won’t be letting this lens go!




Budget Sports Photographer

At all the major sporting events, if you scan the sidelines, you see various photographers and their pro gear shooting the event. Sports photography can become very expensive quickly. Some of the lenses can run you over $10k just by themselves. If you watch each of those photographers on the sidelines, they have gotten where they through hard work and sacrifice. There is much to more to success than just a camera and the latest gear. That was a lesson I learned through my journey to improve and grow as a photographer.


I shot the above image with my Nikon D70s / Nikon 70-210F4 lens combo. The combo together cost me less than $300. The D70s is a 6MP dslr that allows me to shoot in either full manual mode or aperture priority. The lens is a constant f4 throughout the zoom range. As long as you have decent light, you can take some nice photos. Success comes with lots of practice and the honing of your shooting technique. My job as a photographer is to produce good shots no matter what kind of gear I have.


Nikon D70s with Nikon 70-210 f4

I’ve learned to work within the constraints of my gear and produce good images. I choose not to let my gear be the reason I cannot succeed. Of course there are limits to everything. The D70s has limited ISO performance and the 70-210 f4 lens is limited by light and a nearly 30 year old design. By overcoming these challenges, it makes me develop more as a photographer!

Nikon D70s Challenge

It’s been a while since I actually wrote something on this blog. Photography gear is often a hot button topic amongst people. Some believe that it is the gear that makes the great shots; not the actual photographer. The analogy I often use is, does owning a Porsche 911 turbo automatically make a person a better driver than the guy driving the 94 Saab 900? It’s true that the Porsche could most likely wipe the floor with the Saab. Performance wise, the Porsche has an edge, however the responsibility for getting the most out of either car lies with the driver. A good driver can get more performance out of the Saab versus a bad driver out of the Porsche.

The same goes for camera gear. We as photographers are tasked with creating memories. The gear is nothing more than a mere tool to assist in that task. The quality of the tools in your arsenal can make the job easier or harder. My mantra has always been to try and do more with less. When I started out in photography, I couldn’t afford the more expensive gear that was available. I had to learn to make do with the tools that I has at my disposal. Sure it was tough and I got a crash course in extreme failure fairly quickly.

I currently have two Nikon D70s digital cameras. This is my third go around owning the D70s cameras. I have been the former owner of the D200, D300, and D7000 dslrs. Unfortunately I had to downgrade when times got tough. The challenge for me has been to learn how to produce great images from the gear that I currently own. When I first used my first D70s, i thought it was such a slow outdated camera. I lusted after the newer stuff. I kept telling myself that once I got the latest and greatest gear, that my pictures would drastically improve.

That wasn’t the case at all. While some of my technical skills with taking photos improved, I was rather stagnant when it came to creating good images. Now I am having to shoot on a budget. I guess you can call me the budget sports photographer. ultimately I do hope to get newer gear, but for now I want to embrace the D70s challenge. I want to create images that stand on their own merit. It’s not the kind of tools that you have that make you great; it’s how you use them.