Archive for May, 2011

More Goodies

Saturday evening, and I just got back from having dinner with the kiddos.  They are definitely ready for summer, and can hardly wait for the pool to open.

A trip to Best Buy and  an hour spent on means I have more goodies coming.  I liked the lens Randy loaned me so much that I ordered an EF 50mm f/1.8 prime of my own. Known affectionately as the nifty-fifty, it’s a cheap lens, and constructed accordingly, but it’s very fast and the image quality is very impressive – it’s got a hell of a lot of bang for the buck.

The biggest purchase today was an external flash. The T3i has a built-in one, but it’s not very powerful and it’s prone to causing red-eye, so I bought a Canon Speedlite 430 EX II.

I also ordered a battery grip for the camera. For those of you not familiar with what a battery grip is, it’s an attachment that screws onto the bottom of the camera body. It contains two batteries, effectively doubling the the number of shots between recharges, plus it has an extra slide-out carriage that holds AA batteries, so if I were to ever run out of juice and couldn’t recharge the batteries, I can always grab some AA’s and go. In addition to the batteries, the grip is also equipped with full set of controls that allows the user to shoot with the camera in portrait orientation, without the contortion required otherwise.

I also picked up a cheap and cheerful Sunpak tripod to replace the Bogen dinosaur I have already, a wireless remote shutter release, a couple UV filters to protect my lenses, and a new bag, a LowePro CompuDayPack, which holds camera gear in the bottom and various normal backpack-y stuff in the top. Should be getting all my new goodies later this week.

Some Nice Singing and Some Crappy Shooting

So I got the chance to try out the camera, but I didn’t have much of a chance to practice first. The Ralston Valley High School Choir had its year-end performance tonight, so with less than 30 clicks on the odometer, my shiny new T3i got its first real test. The camera performed great — I, on the other hand, sucked. The only saving grace was that I borrowed a 50mm prime lens from a guy at work. It’s got an aperture of f/1.8, which is far faster than either of my lenses. Even with that advantage, I found that the lighting of the auditorium presented a challenge to which I was not equal. I took well over a hundred pictures, and really not a single one was worth a damn. There were a few that were salvageable, so it wasn’t a total loss, and I learned a lot in just a couple hours, not to mention enjoyed some damn fine vocals from the kids at RV.

Choir 1

Choir 2

I Went Shopping…

So one of the few long-term interests in my life has been photography, but contrary to most of my other interests, I’ve been far less fascinated by the nuts and bolts than I am the results. I’ve had some moderately decent camera gear over the years, but I really never did my homework well enough to use the stuff to its full potential. Last summer, I shot a bunch at a big party using my point and shoot Canon, but the results were not very good, and I felt I missed a whole lot of opportunities. I didn’t want another performance like that, so I did what I always do, which is dig into the internet to learn more. I found a forum dedicated to photography, and Canon gear in particular, called, or POTN for short. There are literally thousands of skilled photographers there, and there are very few photography questions that haven’t been asked and answered, most of them many times. So for the last 10 months or so, I’ve lurked and learned. And now, over the last several days, I have attempted to apply some of the things I’ve learned at POTN, at least from a gear standpoint. I’ve spent a good portion of the last couple days proving the adage that a fool and his money are soon parted. I haven’t done much of it in a while, but I reminded myself that there is at least one thing that I’m really good at, given the opportunity…buying shit. And I’ve bought plenty.

Before I went shopping, one of the first things I had to learn was how to decipher Canon’s model numbers. Their line of EOS DSLR cameras is divided into several tiers. The single-digit models (e.g. 1D, 5D, 7D) represent their professional line. The two-digit models (e.g. 40D, 50D, 60D) are their semi-pro line. The three-digit models (e.g. 500D, 550D, 600D), are the mainstream consumer-level cameras. And finally, the four-digit models (e.g. 1000D, 1100D) fill the budget end of the spectrum. The lower two tiers also have names as well as model numbers, and they collectively fall under Canon’s “Rebel” moniker.

What I bought is Canon’s latest entry in their consumer-level DSLR line, the Rebel T3i, aka the 600D. The T3i kit I got comes with, among other things, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 image-stabilized lens, and while it’s not a great lens, it’s still far more capable than the glass you’ll find in any point and shoot. In addition to the kit, I bought a 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, which has the reputation for being more or less crap. It does, however, have two virtues – one is that it reaches out to 300mm, which goes a long ways towards alleviating the loss of the 20x zoom on my SX10 point and shoot, and the second is that it’s dirt cheap – less than $150.

So I have most of the big stuff bought, but there are still other goodies I want to get. In the meantime, I’m going to start shooting!

Another Anniversary

So one year ago today, I finished smoking a cigarette, wadded up the remainder of the pack, and tossed it into the trash. That was the last one I smoked. I also started rat-holing the money I would have otherwise spent on smokes, and I’ve been both shocked and pleased with the result of that. So one year in, I’m happy to say that I can now breathe immeasurably better, that nagging morning cough is long gone, and I no longer suffer from the constant “allergies” I once had. I’m also happy to say that I’m about to go spend the aforementioned savings on something that I’ve been wanting for a very long time. More on that later…

To Begin Anew

So I was cleaning out a closet the other day, and I ran across a box of old stuff from an old bedroom office, perhaps half a dozen dwellings ago. In it was a steno pad full of notes about my new computer and this new thing that I was just learning about called the Internet. I had only recently gotten connected, and now I was trying to create something called a “web site”, and I was having trouble. So I had called my ISP for some help, and I had jotted down what they told me. I had also dated the page — May 14th, 1994.

I did in fact get my web site running that day, although it certainly didn’t amount to much. It was a beginning though, and over the intervening 17 years, I have maintained a continuous presence on the web, through several hosts, domain names too many to remember, subject matter ranging from sublime to ridiculous, and site designs ranging from not-half-bad to utterly horrific. The only common thread through it all is that I’ve always posted about things I that I am passionate about. The problem is that over the last several years, I guess I just haven’t been passionate about much, so this site has languished, a victim of its owner’s indifference.

Well, I have decided that indifference sucks. So, in honor of my internet anniversary, I have unceremoniously tossed all the shit from the last 17 years, and I’m going to begin anew. I’m going to write about things that interest me. I’ll write about things I like, or things that make me happy, or shit that pisses me off, but one thing is for sure…I won’t be indifferent about them.