Two Photography Birds, One Domestic Cat Stone

As you might have noticed, I love my 50mm lens – the Nifty Fifty.  Photography would be a much more accessible and enjoyable hobby if more good stuff cost less.  Honestly, at this point, I raise an eyebrow much faster at a lens that costs less than $100 than I do at one that costs more than $1,000.  But I’m getting off the subject – where was I.  Ah yes.  The Nifty Fifty.  This is a great lens that anyone who owns a Canon (D)SLR should have.  The main selling point after the price is that huge f/1.8 aperture.  That makes it a good two stops faster than most “good” lenses and worlds better than the slow end of what comes bundled with your average camera.  This has some obvious upsides (bokeh, anyone?) but there are also some problems.

It is easy to take bad pictures with this lens.  Out of focus pictures.  Here’s the key.  In most situations, the camera is going to drop the lens all the way open in order to gain more light.  Unless you set the aperture yourself, this means shallow depth of field.  When you take a picture of two people maybe 8 feet away with one slightly in front of the other, someone is going to be blurry.  You see where I’m going here?  No?  Well that’s why I brought examples.

Lucky The Cat, with focus on his head

This, my friend, is Lucky the Cat, doing what he does (when he isn’t rapaciously eating or rapaciously scratching people).  Without moving the camera, but with a twist of the focus ring, you get this:

Lucky the cat, with focus on his paw

Lucky is a big cat, but he’s not that big.  This is shallow depth of field.  You can do some great stuff with it, but you’ve got to remember that it exists.  If you want more DOF, you have to dial your aperture down a few stops, which means you need a higher ISO speed or a longer exposure length.  This is the same with any lens, of course.  The only difference is with the Nifty Fifty, you have the option of going down to 1.8.  You’ll never have the shallow DOF problem with an f/5.6 lens because you’ll have your own, completely different problems instead.  I’ll take this one any day.

A Storm of Pink?

When you see the fields of tulips, looking out over all the different colors is pretty nice, but some of my favorite pictures were down close with just one color.  Pink works pretty well.

Pink Tulip Field in Skagit County 2009

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This one comes from my 100 mm macro lens.  I love the shallow depth of field, which devolves into solid pink.  On the Digital Rebel XT I shoot with, you’ve got to multiply the focal length by 1.6, so I have a 160mm lens which means I was probably 5 feet back from the flower in question.  With overcast sun shooting at ISO 200, you still have plenty of light to freeze any movement in the breeze, but late in the day or inside, this isn’t the perfect lens for hand-held shooting.  Sometimes it’s nice to try to figure out what else you can do with the lenses you have.  Macros are great up close, but that’s not all they can do.

Depth Of Field – Instruction-o-rama!

I’ll just say this up front – for a lot of people, this is really elementary stuff.  Every photo class I’ve ever taken, for the first or second assignment, did something with DoF (depth of field).  In any case, I was playing around and just happened to end up with some pictures that demonstrate it well, so I’m posting here.  Someone said they liked this stuff before.  We’ll see what you think.

African Violet taken at f/2.8Wanna learn all about it, or just see some purdy pictures?  Click the link:

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Ari the human lightmeter

Ari the human lightmeter

So I finally got the film back from my first attempt at actually shooting with the Rolleicord. I have no lightmeter and neither does the Rollei, so you have to use the magic guidelines stamped onto the back of the camera and your imagination.  I was somewhat shocked that the pictures came back in any sort of serviceable condition, but I’ll take it. I shot one roll of Neopan 400 and since this is 120 film, it only has 12 shots per roll. Here’s the first – I think maybe there are one or two more worth showing off. I didn’t write it down as I’m a spoiled digital photographer but I believe the exposure here is something like f/5.6 at 1/100th of a second. I didn’t realize how shallow it would come out looking, but combined with the sparse tree limbs and the great angles you can get with Twin Lens Reflex cameras, I like this one a lot.
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  • Model: QSS-32_33