About Us / Home

Welcome to my photography blog!

(To return to ‘Home’ click on this link or click on ‘Thomas Stirr Photography’ in the navigation bar or on the butterfly image at the top of the web site.)

With so many other photo blogs out there the first question you likely have is “What’s the purpose of this blog?” The short answer is: to help readers get the most out of the photography gear that they already own.

As photographers, far too often we can get wrapped up in GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and along the way lose sight of the joy of creating images. If you’re like me, you don’t have an unlimited budget to continually buy the newest camera body or lens.

So, while I may review gear from time to time I’ll often be focusing on what I own and use and I’ll do my best to make some practical observations on it. There are other photography sites that folks can visit if they want updates on the latest camera or lens that’s been introduced.  If I do review some gear that I don’t personally own it will be from a hands-on, practical standpoint. No charts and graphs generated through lab tests. And, I won’t be reviewing any equipment that is stratospherically priced and out-of-reach for the average photographer.

My articles here will cover an eclectic mix of topics – from simply showcasing some images taken at a specific locale or of a particular subject matter, to providing some thoughts on post processing.

In the past I shot primarily with Nikon gear but do not consider myself a ‘fan boy’ of any particular brand. I own what I own because at the time of purchase it was the best solution for my clients’ needs, and was also the best fit for me on a personal basis.

Over the years I have used a number of different cameras: small sensor bridge, AP-S cropped sensor DSLR, as well as full frame sensor DSLR. In the summer of 2015 I sold all of my full frame gear as I found it no longer was the best format to meet my needs. I now shoot exclusively with the Nikon 1 mirror-less system, both for client work and for my personal needs.

I’ve been fiercely independent my entire life and my photography has always been much more experimental and experiential. At times you may find me somewhat unorthodox. I don’t take a ‘textbook’ approach to things. I love to experiment and push things to see how much I can get out my current gear. If that’s also what you love to do, then hopefully you’ll become a regular reader here.

My goal is to have a fun, informative, and respectful blog to help readers get the most out of the gear they already own and I hope you’ll choose to join me on this journey.

In order to keep this web site advertising free, I do accept donations through PayPal for those readers who would like to support my work.

Thomas Stirr

Web site: http://tomstirrphotography.com
Email: tom at tomstirr dot com

51 thoughts on “About Us / Home”

  1. I am so impressed with your photos.
    A few questions:
    1. Did you put your copyright on each photo in your ebook?
    2. Did you try for a traditional publisher or just do ebook?
    3. I ask because I’m an author and a photojournalist and have been trying to get my South African book (I taught there) of photos published by a traditional publisher for years. I just did my first ebook romance but really want to try photo ebook. Hope you will reply. Joan

    1. Hi Joan,

      You should put a Copyright on each photograph as well as a Copyright notice on the entire publication. You should also consider some kind of “Terms and Conditions” acknowledgement as well as sign-in conditions on the purchase of individual e-books so you can track every buyer.

      I did not approach any traditional publishers. I have had a book published through a traditional route about 20 years ago (i.e. Miller’s Bolt). If you go this route you will first need to find a Literary Agent to represent you as the vast majority of publishers will not even open a solicitation letter/manuscript that comes directly from an author.

      Tom

  2. Hi Thomas,
    I’m not going to start this email by blowing wing up your arse as to how good your photographs are, you already know that they are good otherwise we wouldn’t be reading of your success. This email is to thank you for having the courage to step away from all the bullshit blogs and print a friendly, down to earth blog for everyday reading and more importantly, letting us learn from the path that you have forged. Some of your readers seem happy that they have some new acronyms to play with like GAS and SAS, and this is a good thing because whatever it takes to get people away from the Nikon/Canon GAS that other writers subscribe to and preach to their faithful brethren. Your writings are laid back and easy to follow and through this approach it is very easy to join in and follow along and join the ‘converted’. Thank you Sir, from a proud ticket holder and the newest member of your flock. . .Bruce Terrill. Victoria, Australia

    1. Hi Bruce and thanks for the supportive comment – much appreciated!

      I have thought for a very long time that the joy and love of photography is being obscured by a preoccupation with gear and by a penchant for highly technical discussions that can be intimidating for a large number of people. There are few things more liberating than to grab a camera and create images as our mutual spirits move us. If my blog encourages folks to do that, then I am a happy man!

      You can rest assured that the photography e-books that I currently have in development will all follow the approach that I use on this blog.

      Tom

  3. Hi Thomas.

    I just subscribed to your site as I find your images inspirational. For the longest time my “photography” was always GAS-based. I just kept buying and selling cameras and equipment thinking that somehow this would make me a better photography. I am sure my wife can iterate better just how many times I bought and sold equipment looking for the next best thing.
    However, the reality hit me FINALLY that I should focus on SAS rather than GAS. And that I should stick with a camera that is fun and encourages me to shoot rather than worrying about my equipment.
    4 years ago. when my wife told me she wanted to get into photography as a hobby as well, but did NOT want to get a fancy system like mine (at the time I was using a Nikon D700), I bought her a Nikon 1 V1 and the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8. She loved it, but I never took it seriously as tool. Then I started playing with it…and found it much more fun to use than my D700. I decided to get myself a V1 as well, although this again was based more on GAS than SAS.
    As I wanted something a little more “serious” than the V1, I decided to get the V2 along with the 1 Nikkor 6.7-13mm and the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm. Even though I had this combination, I still kept buying and selling other cameras, from other full-frame to Fuji X and so on and so on. But none of these cameras were as fun to shoot as my little V2.
    Just this past Christmas I noticed that the Canon 6D was on sale for a very good price. I jumped on the sale and bought myself a new body as well as the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. The boxed remained unopened for 2 weeks as I contemplated whether I needed this new equipment again.
    Then I found your site. Your essays on here as well as the ones you contribute to Photography Life convinced me to just use my V2 and focus on SAS rather than GAS. I returned the Canon and lens and now I feel so much better for it.
    I love the V2 and the images I get from it while I learn more about photography. After reading on several other photographer sites the same message, that a camera is just a tool and that SAS is more important than GAS, it was your site that finally got into my thick head.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Aristotle,

      Welcome aboard – it is always great when we have new people subscribe to the photography blog! And…thank you for sharing some of your experiences with GAS – most of us have lived through our own struggles with it! One of my objectives with my photography blog is to encourage people to go out and have fun creating images, regardless of the gear that use to do so. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying your Nikon 1 V2 and having fun creating photographs!

      Tom

  4. Hi Tom,

    I enjoy your site very much.

    I have recently picked up a J5. Nice camera. It is begging to grow up into a V something with an evf and all isn’t it? 🙂

    I also have a V2 and have been doing some tighter comparisons between them IQ wise. I know at base ISO up to about somewhere between 400-800 the j5 is smoother and richer color and tone. Also at extreme ISO the J5 holds onto color and tone a bit better. I have noticed the rated ISO discrepancy that you have seen as well. Interestingly, the highlights do clip more in the V2, but if I do a minus .3 comp it protects my highlights much better and the overall histogram is a similar curve to the J5 as well. The net effect being less blown highlights in blue skies or sunlit concrete etc. I have checked shadow detail in both Lightroom and DXO and it is not that far off from the J5. The J5 is slightly better, but when using the V2 that minus .3 has resulted in a much smoother and closer match than if metering at default. The V2 color to me also seems warmer and maybe a bit less magenta tint. I think the J5 is more neutral which is good, but I have been able to grade the IQ quite closely between the 2. I also can see the difference in the J5 sensor being more immune to underexposure than the V2 regarding noise floor, ISO invariance of sorts.

    I was wondering if you have noticed the same when getting into that ISO 800 on up where the 70-300 lives? A third of a stop on the shadow ins isn’t much of a penalty for richer highlights. I remember reading somewhere that is why the camera manufacturers are rating their ISO higher than what it actually is, to protect the highlight more since the noise floor is less relavant in the newer sensors.

    Kind regards,

    Steve

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your assessment of the V2 and J5. While I have experimented a bit using exposure compensation with my Nikon 2 V2s I typically don’t use it. When shooting landscape images with the V2 I would often use a graduated neutral density filter and I liked the results more taking that route than using exposure compensation. I have also found that the sensor in the J5 is more immune to underexposure than the Aptina sensor in my V2s. I have also noticed that subtle transitions in colour shading are handled better with the J5’s sensor. In lower light conditions the V2 acquires focus better than the J5, which tends to hunt a bit.

      Tom

  5. Congratulations with your beautiful pictures!
    I also have the J5.
    Did you already cleaned the sensor on the J5?
    I wonder if you can youse the regular eyelead sensor gel to clean it? Or if you need the Sony version because it is a Sony sensor…

    Thank you
    Best regards

    1. Hi Bart,
      Glad you liked the images! I haven’t cleaned the sensors on my J5s yet. I spoke to Nasim about this and my understanding is that I regular eyelead is fine for the J5. The issue isn’t the Sony sensor, but the coating that is on the sensor. Both Sony and fuji use very ‘sticky’ coatings on the sensors in their cameras which is why Nasim recommends using a different eyelead tool that isn’t as sticky as normal. You can always do a test and gently put your eyelead tool on the sensor at an angle and see how much ‘stick’ it has. If it lifts off easily there shouldn’t be an issue.
      Tom

  6. Hello. I’ve really enjoyed seeing your amazing images! I’m hoping you might be able to advise me a little. I have recently become very interested in wildlife photography and want to buy a longer lens. I currently use a Nikon 70-200 and now want to choose between the Sigma 150-600 and the Tamron equivalent. I believe the Sigma is rather heavy but perhaps a better quality image provider than the Tamron although I’m not certain about this. I would wonder how successful I might ba at getting good images on a tripod if I want to shoot a moving subject. Perhaps you could give me your opinion if you have time. Best wishes, Martin

    1. Hi Martin,
      Part of your decision will be based on the camera body that you are using. You have 4 zoom lens choices…the Nikkor 200-500, the Sigma Sport 150-600, the Sigma Contemporary 150-600, and the Tamron 150-600. Of the four lenses the Sigma Sport would be the sharpest…but also the most expensive and the heaviest. The Sigma Sport is quite a heavy lens to use hand-held and most folks would use a tripod or monopod fitted with a gimbal head.
      Tom

  7. I have just bought a used V2 and am anxious to try it with my 70-200 f4 lens. Have you tried this for BIF and have any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jim,
      I wrote an article on this exact subject some time ago. Here is a link: http://tomstirrphotography.com/capturing-birds-in-flight-with-nikon-1-and-ft-1-adapter Since that article was written a couple of things have changed…first I did update my firmware which allowed my V2 to shoot at 15fps in AF-C. Secondly, by depressing the display button on the back of the V2 you can deactivate the rear screen. There still could be a slight lag with the image appearing in the viewfinder so keeping your thumb over the eye sensor is still a good idea. Pre-focusing the lens is also very helpful when shooting birds in flight.
      Tom

      1. Tom:
        Thanks very much for the quick response and link to your article. Your bird photography has inspired me as well many others to practice this craft. I shoot with a D750 and a 200-500 f5.6 most of the time but want to try some lighter gear, especially for BIF. The Nikon 1 V2 seems well suited for this.

        Jim

  8. Tom,

    I find your articles very informative and not intimidating or overbearing for a novice photographer like myself. I own a J5 and I recently purchased the 18.5mm lens for it. I took it on a weekend trip to Mallorca as I live in Germany and travel in Europe is very cheap. I also have the two kit lenses for the J5. I prefer to photograph architecture and cityscapes. I own a mac so I have access to their baked in Photos program that is inferior to the known brands on the market, but it suits my needs. I’m no pro and I don’t pretend to be on. At the same time as you cleverly pointed out in another article it is not the software, nor the camera, but the eye and perspective the brings life to the image (paraphrasing). I have tried the Capture NX software by Nikon but even that seems arduous to me. I like the Nikon 1 series because I enjoy traveling very light and quick. The only gear I have is a Peak Design leash and a Gorilla pod tripod. I have Timbuk2 messenger bag that I can fit everything else I need for my adventure.

    I look forward to reading your articles and expanding my knowledge of photography. I will certainly keep coming back to this blog.

    Will

  9. Hello Thomas
    I have seen almost all your videos on youtube …
    I have a Nikon v1 … have you tried tamron 150-600 with FT1
    to wildlife ….
    I am considering a FT1 to my nikon v1

    do not you make a video with the setup

    friendly kennet from Denmark

    1. Hi Kennet,

      I shoot with three Nikon 1 V2’s and none of my V2’s would recognize the Tamron 150-600 lens at all. When using the FT-1 adapter you need to be careful as not all third party lenses will be recognized by your Nikon 1 camera body. I did some tests with the Sigma Sport 150-600 and my V2’s would recognize it. Unless using a tripod with a good head I found that it is quite awkward to shoot with a long, heavy lens like the Sigma Sport with one of my V2’s attached. Since I prefer to shoot hand-held this was something that did not interest me at all.

      You may have good luck with the new Nikon 200-500mm lens, although I would check the FT-1 compatibility chart to make sure it would work. The other thing to keep in mind when using the FT-1 adapter is that you will be limited to one focus point in centre frame which you will not be able to move. I found this quite restricting and I now only shoot with 1 Nikon native lenses with my V2’s.

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom; I recently purchased a Nikon 1 J4 at my local camera store, and have since ordered a used Nikon 1 V2, based on information from your blog. I felt that as I was getting older, I no longer wanted to carry a 27 pound camera bag, as I used to when photographing weddings. What I am really looking for now, is a new camera bag that will grow with my Nikon 1 System, but also protect all of my gear individually. I don’t feel that I need a system quite as elaborate as yours, but would like maybe 3 bodies, a few lenses, and of course a flash. Any recommendations for a new bag would be greatly appreciated, as I’m not really sure of what is out there for the smaller systems, that are tried and true.
    Thanks
    Wolfgang

  11. Thomas,
    I would like to ask you for any recommendations regarding Nikon 1 blogs . We are long time DPR users and have been active in all the Forums we for which have had equipment.
    But the Nikon 1 blog has been frustrating. There is very little interest in BIF shooting with limited feedback/participation on the numerous post we have made over the past year or so. Our experience in the Sony Nex Forum was quite different, but most of our BIF shooting is now with the V3/70-300, and the response has been underwhelming at best.
    The Nikon 1 Forum is filled with mostly nice folks . . . it is just that they they seemingly have little to no interest in those subjects we shoot with our Nikon 1 gear. The “fit” just hasn’t seemed to work.

    Any suggestions you have is appreciated.

    Thanks for your time,

    Jack

    1. Hi Jack,

      Since the Nikon 1 product line hasn’t been as well accepted as other cameras there likely isn’t as many active forums. As you have likely found, photographing birds in flight with the Nikon 1 system is a bit trickier than using a DSLR but can yield great results with a bit of practice and adjustments to technique.

      I can’t comment on the quality of the participation in Nikon 1 forums as I seldom visit them due to time constraints, you may want to investigate the following: NikonRumors, photographerslounge, and nikonians. Photography Life also has a forum section with a wildlife topic area. Your other option would be to visit some wildlife/bird forums to find some birds-in-flight discussions. I think a lot more nature photographers are considering/using the Nikon 1 system because of the outstanding CX 70-300 lens.

      If I can be of some assistance feel free to contact me via email.

      Tom

      1. Tom,
        Thank you very much for the response. I can honestly say using the V3/70-300 kit has made my BIF shooting easier! That lens, as you well know, is a marvel. While hoping for a V4 with an improved sensor, a N1/70-300 kit will likely be with us for a long time.
        I will check out all your suggestions . . . thanks again for the input.

        Take care,

        Jack

    1. Hi Dave,
      Unfortunately I do not have any ‘inside’ information about any new products. I would suspect that a new V4 will be out in the first quarter of next year and will likely feature the new 20.8MP BSI sensor that is in the J5. This is a significant improvement from previous Aptina sensors with much better dynamic range and colour depth. I think that’s about all we can count on in terms of specs. The V-series has typically had a much larger buffer than J-series cameras (usually 40 images vs. 20), a good grip and EVF. Nikon made some rather strange decisions with the V3 in terms of a detachable EVF and grip which I’m hoping they correct with the V4. I would like to see a return to standard SD cards but since the J5 has micro-SD I think that’s what the V4 will also use. I’d also like to see a common battery but unlikely since the J5 continues Nikon’s habit of unique batteries. I skipped the V3 as I did not think it was a significant enough improvement over my V2’s…plus the detachable EVF was problematic for me in terms of video. The new sensor is certainly good enough that I may pull the trigger on a V4 even if the other design quirks aren’t fixed.
      Tom

  12. Recently, several friends introduced me to bird photography. While we have — or have had — big iron, full-frame DSLRs, all of us lately have obtained Nikon 1 V3s and 70-300mm lenses for birding. In my own case, I decided to buy after seeing the extraordinary results you’ve obtained and I have yet to see anyone who has coaxed more quality out of that relatively small sensor. Bravo! I love mine and it’s with me most of the time now. An effective reach of 810mm in such a small, affordable package is downright miraculous when there is enough light. A question: Have you had an opportunity to try the Nikon P900? This page – http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/3198630/?inAlbum=nikon-p900-samples-gallery
    includes a link to some original files. Download the one for the second duck (4608×3456, 5.1MB) that is said to have been shot at full tele (effective 2000mm). If true, the result is pretty amazing, considering the camera costs only $600. I know there are numerous drawbacks to the P600 (vs. the V3) but I’m curious about a master’s take on it.

    1. Hi David,
      I actually wrote a full review on the Nikon P900: I think this is quite an interesting camera for the money. It has some drawbacks that you’ll see in my review. No RAW capability and the AF performance is fairly weak. It is fine for static nature subjects but it is not up to the task of BIF in my opinion. For many folks it will make an excellent all-in-one camera that will be particularly suited to travel. I think it will find a home in some birders’ bags because of its exceptional reach. If it had RAW capability I would have given it some consideration…but it really doesn’t meet my needs without RAW.
      Tom

        1. Hi David,
          Apparently Nikon has filed a patent for a 10-600mm Nikon 1 zoom lens. Based on the crop factor of the CX sensor that lens would have an efov of 27-1620mm.
          Tom

  13. Hi Thomas Stirr,

    may I ask you a question concerning Nikon 1 V2? I saw your beautiful bird photography and bought a V2, which are these days rather cheap. My main (ex-professional) gear is Nikon D3, D800 and many other things. So my “Goliath” is a 600 : 4 AFS. And now this tiny toy!!! My biggest problem is, how to achieve some kind of AF-ON technique, which is important part of my photography. I’m so used to it, that anything other is impossible to imagine. Can you give me a hint?
    All the best from Germany, Raimund.

      1. Hello Thomas Stirr
        and thanks a lot for your quick and friendly answer. AF-ON is the way you can manage autofocus with your thumb on almost any DSLR. Either using the AF-ON key or AE- lock. Autofocus is (per menu a4 – D 800) no longer connected with half-pressed shutter and stays continuos until one takes the picture or loosens the thumb, to fix the last position. It is a kind of “manual” autofocusing with all the help of modern electronics. You can recompose or change the target very fast and secure. Sorry for disturbing you!! My first test pics with 300 2,8 blew me away and were even at 3200 Iso simply stunning. I never would have tried this little gem, if I hadn’t found your encouraging reports. (Nikon should be happy and honor your efforts.)
        All the best and pardon my poor English…
        Raimund
        I got the feeling, I’m on the wrong place in your blog with my questions. Very sorry for that.

        1. Hi Raimund,
          The V2 has AE-L/AF-L on the rear control wheel. You can also half depress the shutter. Another interesting feature is that if you shoot in single point AF you can move that single point anywhere in the frame, even into the corners. I always use this feature and as a result I never have to ‘focus and recompose’ the way I have to with my D800.
          Tom

          1. Hi Thomas,
            Thanks for your helpful answer, I’m working myself through the manual, looking forward to better weather.
            Lot of fun with N1 V2.
            All the best
            Raimund

  14. Hi Thomas!

    I was just wondering that being an Ontario resident, have you ever gone shooting snowy owls in the Holland Marsh area?

  15. Hi Tom,

    Congrats on a nice site and will to spread your knowlage about photography which I find very helpful! I like very much your article and advice about thirds and gso. Keep up the good work!

    Best of luck,

    Sapy

  16. Tom
    This is a great and wonderfull reason to have this blog…. To become expert with the gear we already own…… By the way your pics are wonderfull.
    Luc

    1. Hi Luc,

      Really glad you like the images! I’m hoping we’ll get a lot of readers participating in the discussions and sharing their experiences as well to make this a very rich and enjoyable experience for everyone.

      Tom

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