Top of the list this week is Mark Germans entry Hope. This image is beautifully captured with wonderful light and symbolism.

Dana DiPasquale‘s entry Maybe This Year Will be Better Than The Last is a classic, wonderfully framed, soft and serene image.

My entry Ode to Life came equal second. This image was taken when my wife and i were just about to leave Brugge, packs on our backs, walking to the train station. We had some time, so we sat, relaxed, and breathed in the beauty of Belgium, one more time. It will always remind me of those times of peace between travelling.

Hope by Mark German

Maybe This Year Will be Better Than The Last by Dana DiPasquale

Ode to Life by Adrian Rachele

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Continuing on from silly thing no.1, I had purchased all the gear for cleaning the sensor, and did not need it. That’s OK, i can use the cleaner to clean my lenses and filters. It says so on the website. What you can not do, is clean your multi coated filters. Which brings me to…

Silly thing No.2 – Multi Coated Filters & Cleaning.

Most photographers will always have a filter attached to the end of their lenses. The main reason is protection. It is also handy for cutting down on unwanted ultraviolet light. With the advent of digital photography, the multi coated filters like the Hoya “Pro1 D”, or B+W “MRC” filter series are now the standard for digital photography. What the manufacturers will not tell you is how to clean the filter without damaging it.

I use the “Eclipse” cleaning fluid to clean the filters. It states on the website that i can clean filters with this fluid. I even had some Pec Pads i can use in conjunction with the product. Bad idea.

While it is true that you can clean filters with this product, i found it is not true for multi coated filters. Take my advise, and do not even try it. It seemed to remove the coating and create large streaks and then little pools of uncoated glass. I did manage to salvage it slightly, but the filter was ruined. One of my more expensive circular polarisers was for the bin.

So what to do?

A fellow photography enthusiast informed me he himself does not use any special fluids, brushes or the like. The best and cheapest method, is to give the filter a blow with something like Giottos Q.Ball if it needs it. Use your breath to dampen the glass, and clean using a good cleaning cloth. I currently use B+W’s cleaning cloth, which is a great product. If you have managed to get salt water, dirt or some other alien matter on the filter, use tap water to clean, let it dry, and clean in the way just mentioned. If you do have dirt, please be sure you have removed all the dirt before wiping with the cloth. Otherwise the glass may become scratched.

Granted, this may not be the only method of cleaning, but it has worked well for me thus far. If anyone has some other tips or tricks, i would love to hear them.

But do not forget, do not use special fluids on multi coated filters. Take it from this numb skull.

One way i have avoided the heartache is to not purchase the multi coated filters. I now use the B+W standard UV filter as a protector filter, which is also cheaper. It does a great job, and it is easier to clean.

I am happy to say that i have come first in the latest Promote each other competition.

My entry Sister Two was taken of my sister-in-law after our visit to Auschwitz. We went to a bar in the old Jewish quarter of Krakow, to have a drink and reflect. I think this image best displays our feelings at the time. A feeling none of us had ever experienced before. To have been, too see, to smell such a place of despair and death.

Sue Wickhams entry On Her Way was the last photo she took of her daughter before she left in the car, on her way to the church with her father, to be married.

Dana DiPasquale’s entry Waiting to Say Goodbye was taken when waiting to attend funeral services for a beloved uncle that has passed away. She saw these antique children’s chairs that her aunt had and decided to spend some time taking photos of them to get her mind off of things.

Sister Two by Adrian Rachele

On Her Way by Sue Wickham

Waiting to Say Goodbye by Dana DiPasquale

This is the ultimate question for thousands of people of whom are switching to digital and for those that are upgrading from their compact or bridge camera’s. Seeing i myself never owned a film SLR, i can not speak for the film buffs. Although those that do use SLRs, most will stick to the same brand, as they most likely have a range of lens they already invested in. Which brings us to the first topic.

Lenses

You may have a camera, or brand for you new DSLR in mind, just because it has all the bells and whistles you want. But before you make your decision, first have a look at what lenses are available, and at what price.

Lens choice is not on peoples minds when choosing to upgrade from compact or bridge cameras. The main reason being the lens was fixed, so there is no choice. So why start now? Because you are about to make a huge investment in your camera, and once you have made a choice on brand, you pretty much stay with that brand, because of the huge investment you will eventually make in lenses. Nonsense, i hear you scream. Yes, nonsense if you have the cash. But who has that sort of cash. Most of us do not.

Today though, unlike in the past, if you had a Canon camera, you were limited (pretty much) to Canon lenses. Today you can choose from Tamron, Sigma & Tokina. Other brands are available, but lets stick to the affordable models. These three companies make models to suit all DSLR cameras, but you must check your choice of lens against your make and model of camera. Nearly all lenses by these lens manufacturers are compatible with Nikon and Canon, but even then, check the lens is compatible with your specific Canon/Nikon make of camera.

Although there are the budget models, each DSLR manufacturer have their own lens range. These lenses are typically of a better quality, but not always.

OK. What lenses will i need?

Lens choice is not only about the wallet, but about the style of photography. For the landscape photographer, a good wide angle (10-50mm range) lens is a must. Do you love taking pictures of animals, a telephoto zoom (100-600mm range) is for you. Love being up close, a macro lens would be preferable. Just need it for around town or on holidays, a good standard zoom (18-200mm range) is very handy.

You may not consider a fixed lens at first, but i have no doubt in the future you will purchase one. Why? Because they are ultimately better quality. You pay much more for good zoom lenses, for convenience, than you do for a top quality fixed lens (generally). So have a quick look at the range and prices of the fixed lenses also.

When you think you have made your choice then…

Lastly, have a look at the second hand market in your country. I know here in the UK, and in the US, there is a large second hand lens market. Not only is there an abundance of stores selling second hand goods, but sites like Ebay are flooded with them. So check them out also.

So what did i do? I chose the Nikon D80 as my first DSLR. It is compatible with many old lenses (give or take), and Nikon at the time was the only manufacturer of a 18-200mm lens. I do most of my photography on the move, and when travelling, so this was the perfect first lens for me. Now you can also get these types of lenses from Tamron (18-200mm & 18-250mm) and Sigma (18-200mm). I also have other Nikon Lenses. The 12-24mm f4 (for landscape and architectural photography), 35-70mm f2.8 (for a sharp wander around town lens) and the 24mm f2.8 & 50mm f1.8 (for portraits and parties).

Any questions, please ask.

Silly thing No.1

Dust on the sensor.

There is a worry for many about the dust that will eventually appear on the sensor. Many of the new DSLRs will have a self cleaning facility built into the camera. If this fails, i recommend a tried and tested method, use an air blower. Before you rush out and purchase all the sensor cleaning swabs and liquid, or miracle brushes, purchase yourself a reasonable priced air blower like Giottos Q.Ball. I stupidly saw dust on my sensor, panicked, and purchased a load of cleaning equipment i have not yet used. I have been using DSLRs for the last few years, owned two DSLRs and have not had to touch the sensor. Just follow your camera’s instructions for cleaning the sensor (this will involve exposing the sensor), give it a good blow, and check. Nine times out of ten, you will not have to touch a thing. Ten out of ten for me, so far….

Stay tuned for tip number 2.