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JT Blenker
Dallas, TX

Articles written by JT Blenker

Panasonic Announces the Lumix GH5S

Today Panasonic announced at CES 2018 the new Lumix GH5S, a video focused camera that should be a boon for the prosumer hobbyists and professionals alike. Panasonic has changed several aspects of the camera to give an edge to the photographer and filmmaker that will enable them to step above the current Panasonic Lumix GH5 in usability and creativity. If you’ve been wanting even more out of your Lumix line of cameras, this may be the tool for you.

Using a Telephoto Lens and a Polarizer for Better Landscapes

Thomas Heaton has released his final YouTube video of his trip to Namibia, and it ended on a fantastic note. It shows what landscape photography can be, that for many it's not just creating imagery, but a personal way of learning who they are. The tidbits in the video really are just that extra sprinkle of education on top of some life lessons for those who take their cameras to far off destinations. It’s one reason why I and many others enjoy Heaton’s videos so much.

You Have Some New Photography Equipment: Why Learning and Using That New Gear Matters

As photographers, our friends, relatives, and significant others sometimes despair at trying to find what may appeal to us and be within their holiday budgets. We may casually let them know that we are super excited about this new gadget that will "really" improve our photography if we only had that one newfangled gizmo. Whether it’s a brand new piece of kit or something that’s been in our bags sitting from a few years ago, we still need to learn what that "new" tool can do.

Where Will You Be for the Geminid Meteor Shower?

This week will have one of the most amazing astronomical events of the year (besides that continent-crossing solar eclipse this past August). The Geminid meteor shower is streaking across the sky this week on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. If you didn't know or maybe just forgot, it's time to make plans to get to a dark sky area for a once a year celestial show that many astronomers call the best meteor shower of the year.

Creating Better Nightscapes With Lonely Speck

When shooting the Milky Way and nightscapes, there are several ways to get cleaner images with less perceivable noise and other techniques to increase dynamic range. Ian Norman from Lonely Speck has been putting out tutorials for shooting at night for a few years now, and his newest video goes into addressing ISO noise by mixing two different techniques to create a better resolving and cleaner final composition.

Panoramas From Capture to Post

Thomas Heaton created a new set of videos last week about one of my favorite topics and shooting styles: landscape panoramas. I love photographing night skies and landscapes this way and the technique overall is very simple yet can give fantastic results. The best time to start learning how to shoot panoramas is during the day and Heaton takes us through his photography of a great autumn scene and explains what, why, and how he is capturing the images before he goes into his post processing.

Getting Great Light At Any Event

Getting great light in an event setting whether inside or outside is a tough shoot. You have to understand exposure, people are moving sometimes erratically, ambient light is moving over your subjects randomly, and you still have to create sellable imagery. I photograph several nightclubs in Dallas, TX regularly and the imagery I’m creating is their marketing for new patrons. What I have to show is an inviting and fun environment whether it’s packed or not and where people will want to spend their weekday and weekend nights, and let’s be honest, their hard earned money. This lighting isn’t tough to do, but takes some thought to execute as you move throughout a room or outdoor area.

The Rundown on Choosing a Tripod That Fits You

If you’ve been photographing a short time, you may just now be looking into a tripod to add to your kit. You may have purchased a tripod early on and are now realizing that the plastic tripod from the big box store wasn't the most positive choice for taking images and now you’re looking at tripods that don’t break the bank. Usually we are looking at tripods out of absolute necessity and are thinking that they are mostly all the same, which like most things, is simply not true. Tripods have a multitude of features depending on what your needs are, and for those looking at investing into a new tripod should watch this breakdown video from Joe Edelman on choosing a tripod that fits your needs.

Photographer Has a Close Call With Flipping Car

When using a camera on a race track it's best to be cautious, and in this case really lucky. What looks like a back woods rally circuit, there are a multitude of onlookers and spectators for the day's racing. We see the number 50 car becomes airborne on a ramped corner in the beginning of the video, and while attempting to hold the line over compensates for the turn and careens toward a camera man pitched at the end of the inside of the turn.

Is a PPA Super One Day Class Worth It?

Twice a year Professional Photographers of America hosts a learning opportunity for any photographer, whether they are a PPA member of not. PPA calls these Super One Days and they are available throughout the country and held by local photographers that give their time and expertise to a diversified set of subjects in many local communities. The options for classes range from different aspects of the business of photography, to shooting many different types of imagery, to post-processing, and even creating with prints and products in mind. The diversity of options available and that it’s many times a local photographer offering a class makes these educational opportunities worthwhile.

Thomas Heaton Trades a 5D Mark IV DSLR for a Canon M5 Mirrorless Camera

Thomas Heaton put out a new YouTube video a few days ago that many photographers, especially those who hike out to destinations, will have a lot of interest in. Heaton is downsizing not only the amount of equipment for his next landscape photography adventure, but he’s also trying out Canon’s APS-C mirrorless system that’s on loan from Canon. As we see in the video, he does have some reservations about using the M5 system over the 5D Mark IV and specifically going from the L-series glass to the less robust lenses with the Canon M5.

How Did You Become a Photographer?

This coming week will be busy for me as I travel across Virginia to several VPPA guilds and talk about a huge passion of mine with astrophotography. I will also tell them what made me a photographer and who made me a photographer is them. It’s one of the very first things I state when I start my talks and it needs to be said. Other photographers are the reason I’m a photographer today.

2017 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year

On September 14, 2017 the Royal Observatory Greenwich announced the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards. The Guardian writes of the awards, "Awe-inspiring views of the Universe were celebrated at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 awards ceremony, held at the Royal Greenwich Observatory." The competition inspired entries from all over the globe and this is the first year entries included images of the furthest planet in our solar system and asteroids streaking through the images. Of the over 3,800 entries competing in the 9 categories an overall winner has been chosen and the images simply speak for themselves.

The Lily Drone is Back… Kind Of

Back in 2015, the “Throw-And-Go” Lily Robotics drone was building steam and making waves. Its Kickstarter campaign centered around its ability to launch out of water and to be thrown off a cliff to immediately rescue itself and follow its adventurer as they traveled quickly over any terrain. The Lily drone had massive appeal and was slated to be an incredible way to capture and film outdoor enthusiasts and people who just wanted a durable drone to take with them on their adventures.

Making a Four Foot, Travel-Friendly Syrp Magic Carpet Slider

I started using Syrp for time-lapse and motion control almost a year ago and I find the system very good for what it is; a way for photographers to step into motion control at a relatively low price point. The first piece of Syrp kit I purchased was their Genie Mini and having the ability to pan was a way to add more interest in any time-lapse I wanted to create. After a month I went ahead and purchased the rest of their 3-axis kit including the Syrp 5.2' Magic Carpet Long Track Slider which has been great to use. The only issue is if you want a longer slider, Syrp doesn't make a way for you to connect two of their metal sliders together. With very little ingenuity, you can connect as many metal sliders together as you'd like at a relatively low cost.