“Farwell to this lands cheerless marshes”

What to do…..what to do…..what to do…..

Consider this:

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Yeah. I know. Not quite what I had in mind either. See……I’ve had this idea for a few weeks of trying a few different things. You know, just to branch out a bit and keep the whole photography thing alive and kicking. My plans for winter shooting out of doors have been put on hold due to that ever useless bitch Mother Nature, who, for the life of her, cannot get her winter game-face on here in southwest Ohio. So I start putting this idea together that I’d like to use the fast burst mode on my camera and photograph Big Boi playing with his cat toy (emphasis on “his”), which we call Boi Toi. Cute, eh? So the other day I finally drag out the camera and tripod and make my way to the living room, which happens to have the best and strongest light of the day at this time. I opt to shoot with my fixed 50mm f/1.8 thinking that the super wide aperature will allow for lots of light to strike my sensor, thus allowing me to use a fast shutter speed to capture all the motion in a sort of freeze-frame effect.

Alas, the best laid plans.

The natural light wasn’t as strong as I had thought and so the shutter speed wasn’t as high as I had hoped. However, not all was lost here as I quickly reviewed taken shots and realized that with the slower shutter speed I was capturing some blur (too much on occasion), which really worked in the pictures. The blurring truly conveyed the sense of movement, which would have been absent at higher shutter speeds. But fate had more surprises in store for me. The 50mm, while a lovely lens, is really an 80mm once the smaller APS sensor is accounted for. Thus the field of view between the lens and the floor was rather narrow; more narrow than I had expected. This led to the problem of trying to keep the cat and toy within the frame at all times. Needless to say this was rather impossible and I subsequently wound up with loads of shots with more than half the cat out of frame. Still, I was able to salvage some from this experiment:

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The final straw was also something I had not anticipated (big surprise there, eh?). The camera and lens were set to auto-focus during this experiment. When I was later viewing the pictures on my computer’s monitor I quickly noticed how often the little leather bits at the end of the string were in focus, but the cat was not! Well shit. But this doesn’t mean the experiment was a total waste of time because it wasn’t. First, I learned that I need more light. Second, I learned that a slower shutter speed is not a bad thing for this particular setting. Third, I learned that with stronger (much stronger) lighting I may be able to adjust the aperture to something like f/9 or even f/11 and increase my focal depth such that both the cat and toy are more evenly in-focus. And finally, I learned that I should use a wider angle lens for this experiment…..or go out and buy the new full frame Canon 5D Mark II. But as I know my wife would slit my throat I think I’ll avoid that particular plan of attack for the time being.

Next (I’ve been a busy little bee of late!) I took part in a little home-building project. No. I didn’t get the walls prep’d for painting, but I did put together a home-made light box. It is rather crude, but rather larger than the ones sold at my local camera shop. In addition it only cost about $50 for all the components versus $100 for the one at my camera store, which is about half the size to boot. My apologies for not having taken pictures of the light box or its construction, but I didn’t want to take the time to photograph the assemblage in fears that it would turn out horribly wrong and then I’d look like more of a tool than usual.

So, it turned out okay. Not as nice as I had hoped, but it was a first-run and I imagine that many folks encounter less-than-stellar results on the first attempt at anything. I also managed to give it a go photography-wise, which also led to less-than-stellar results:

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There are a couple of things wrong with both the light box and the photographs I took. (1) The colour is off. Too grey. Or so I think. And I fiddled with white balance, but never got quite for what I was looking, but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on it. This was an experimental run; really just to determine if I should purchase more lights for the box (which I should and will). (2) I need to run some white tape along the inside borders of the box because there is a small gap which did appear in some of my photographs. Fortunately I was doing some zoom and crop to the photos so the hint-of-dark disappeared. (3) I need a real close-up/macro lens. I put off purchasing my preferred Canon 100mm f/2.8 as I didn’t think I would need its close-up abilities until next spring, but with the light box I definitely have need for it. I think an order shall soon be placed at Adorama.com.

So there you are. Two experiments recently undertaken where the results were not up to spec, but all was not lost. I consider these to be learning experiences, each filled with the appropriate amount of learning curve. I am so certain that there are plenty of amateur photographers out there who would have nailed things better the first time round, but I am not one of them. Typically I must plod along numerous times until I get it right, if ever. But that’s okay. If nothing else it shows that I’m thinking, acting upon my thinking and analyzing the results in hopes that I learn something which I can apply in round two. Besides….it’s always nice to be behind the camera!

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3 thoughts on ““Farwell to this lands cheerless marshes”

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