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Old Feb 16, 2008, 2:53 PM   #1
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Sometimes the only way to improve your photographic skills is through eliminating equipment as a variable and concentrating on composition. I just packed all of my lenses, and the DS, in the big old Lowepro Nova 5 bag. I now carry a nearly twenty year old Nova 2 with just my DL and the FA 50mm f1.4 (if you are going to limit yourself, do it with a good lens, the FA 35mm f2 was my other choice but I wanted to add a little more challenge with the longer focal length). Unless I have a definite purpose in mind that requires other equipment this is what I will carry. I will practice with flash equipment and do lots of available light stuff and just try to improve how I "see".

Winter is a rather dead period for me in photography, I am on the provincial drama festival host committee, I am playing Mayhew in the localproduction of "Witness for the Prosecution" (for the same festival), Iam on thethe Town of Gander 50th anniversary committee,and I still have a job that requires quite a bit of time (teaching). By the end of March life will return to normal but for now I find only enough time to shoot things around the house (which explains so many back window shots).

I am posting this because I was wondering if there were any others in a similar situation, not quite satisfied with your present photography and realizing that lenses and cameras are not going to improve that. Back to basics for me.

Anyone have any similar stories to tell?

Ira

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

BTW: I like the fact that the small lens on the chrome DL makes for a package that attracts very little attention, candid photography is a little less difficult. The Lowepro bag actually gets more attention than the camera. If I show up with the black DS and the Sigma 24-135mm (even though the DS is not a particularly large camera) it seems that everyone sees you as some sort of a professional while the equally capable chrome DL with the excellent FA 50mm f1.4 is dismissed as amateur (often mistaken for a 35mm film camera like those that we all owned in the late 1970s, early 1980s). Makes me wonder how people would react to the truly large pro models like the Canon1D or Nikon D3 if they were available in chrome finish?
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 3:18 PM   #2
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First examples:

With built in flash



EV +1 in harsh light:



The sparkle of snow:



All were RAW files processed using Picasa2. (I am even simplifying my workflow)

Ira
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 4:40 PM   #3
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You needn't ask, I'm in the same situation (of course, and so it will be till the moon shows it'sdark side).

I'm not restricting myself to one lens only, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I have and LBA has at least weakened. My photographic activity have been obvious from the (low) number of pictures I have posted in the last couple of months. But today was really pretty and I have the coming week off (well, not really but I don't have to show up at work, just have a pile of students' papers to read and comment on).

Kjell
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 5:02 PM   #4
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Ira - I just finished a 4 week course at Perfect Picture School of Photography. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. This is a veryprofessionally runcourse and the oneI took was taught by two professional photographers. The other point Imight make, since I use a Pentax DL and was the only Pentaxer enrolled, I was up against a lot of Canon's and even a D300 Nikon. I held my head up high and thelowly Pentax did ok. No need to upgrade:-)

I kind of got off track, sorry. The point I set out to make is the first paragraph of the first lesson started something like this. Always use a tripod, not just to make your shots more stable, but a tripod forces you to take time to set up and study your subject before hand. You do not always do this with thepoint and shoot approach. We are talking primarily landscape and flower shots here, not action shots. For those use a monopod.

So, instead of buying some new equipment, I'm going to concentrate on slowing down, using a tripod and trying to compose and study my shots beforeI pull the trigger. If it's good enough for the pro's, it ought to be great for me and worth a try. Besides, think of all the hard drive space I'll save- Bruce
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 5:24 PM   #5
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I think this is one of the blessings and curses of digital cameras.

In the days of film, you had 24 or 36 shots in a canister (unless you rolled your own, when you could get 72 shots in a canister!). You knew every shot had to count, as at the end of the film, it had to be rewound and a knew one loaded - during which time all the good shots of the day would unfold.....

Then there was the associated cost of processing etc. I could go to the zoo, shot 6 rolls of 36 (£5 per film) then send off to the semi-pro lab (£7 per film) before seeing my shots.

Now we can shoot all day, quickly swapping cheap cards and batteries, and come home with a few hundred shots which largely turn out to be "snaps" we could have used a cheap P&S to take (I may just be talking personally here! LOL).

Slowing down and thinking about each shot sounds like an ideal way to go - my shots 20+ years ago in black and white, when I had a Zenit E with 50mm and 135mm lenses still seem superior as I had to take at least 2-3 minutes with each shot. Manual light meter, manual focus etc.

Trouble is, it is so easy to get carried away with shooting. Maybe, instead of limiting myself to just one lens, I should limit myself to the memory cards I take out.

Take 1x 512Mb card for the day.....



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Old Feb 16, 2008, 7:59 PM   #6
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I limit myself to no more than 200 a day and am using really only one lens. I made a promise to learn the craft of small bird photography and right now it is the easiest to do with my short time schedule. I'm a very long ways from being satisfied but it is a matter right now of just getting the right light and being lucky enough to be pointed in the right direction at the right time. I was given a great gift in the Bigma and TC and I aim to do my dead level best to master not only small bird shots but the lens itself.. That means using it for landscapes and portraits as well as long range macros...This should take up most of the next year anyway and then I can go back to buying cheap lenses I really don't need! Ira I went through this when I had the Kodak...One lens and one camera...4mp camera too. But I learned to see the things I walked past every day in a new way and profited from it emensely! Wish you luck and am looking forward to more of these photos.

Dawg




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Old Feb 17, 2008, 2:27 PM   #7
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Kjell

I see by the recent 600mm shot that you are "rediscovering" lenses that you haven't used for a while, a good learning exercise.

Bruce (bper)

There is no course available locally, I have considered the New York Institute of Photography on-line courses (and still do). I think that slowing down is a strategy I must follow.

Dal

I know what you mean, if I had shot film the way I do digital I would have lots of fuel for a bonfire. I have the small Slik tripod parked next to the camera bag, a great tool, not just for sharper images but to slow things down. I need to use my head before I use the shutter release.

Dawg

You are taking a very sensible approach, take one quality tool that fits the photography you are currently doing and learn to master it. What I am doing is very similar. I don't have a true wide angle lens right now so I am concentrating on the short tele end. I like shooting details rather than wide vistas so the 50mm suits my current style. (Vertical landscapes, my favourite summer style, will have to wait until I get a 16-45mm or a 12-24mm or even a Sigma 10-20mm). I am basically trying to separate the camera junkie from the photographer, and I am hoping the photographer can improve.

Thanks for the input, I will occasionally revive this thread in order to post images I shoot with the 50mm.

Ira


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Old Feb 17, 2008, 3:23 PM   #8
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Ira - Here is one of the shots I took during the last lesson of the coursein which we coveredspecial affects. This was taken on a tripod with my DA18-55mm and an ND8 filter. By slowing the shutter down to 3 seconds, I was able to zoom out while the shutter was open. The trick is to leave the shutter open about a second or more before zooming to set the image. I also used my 2 second timer, so I had time to get set to zoom.

This is pretty daring for someone like me that normallyjust shoots wildflowers. Nowhopefully the flowers will start blooming pretty soon, so I can quite messing around- Bruce



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Old Feb 17, 2008, 3:24 PM   #9
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Ira, I was looking at the onexposure.net site that somebody suggested and as I looked at those they really made me think about photography as art. Sometimes you just want to record an image because its interesting in and of itself. But to make a picture something special you really need to take some time and think ahead, decide what you are trying to say and then find a way to say it. You are absolutely right about forgetting about the "stuff" and concentrating on the image. Now to really work on that!

Glenn
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Old Feb 17, 2008, 3:51 PM   #10
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Hi there,

it IS a challenge to go out only with just one lens, and then a fixed one As you may know I started my digital photography journey with a Olympus C770 UZ (4mpix 10x zoom) but went "back" to (d)SLR or better to say the whole family did. We still have our old Minolta Dynax 500si somewhere...

So I went for the Pentax DL2 as a budget dSLR and the standard lens. OK photos but not the "wow" effect. Then my family asked for a similar zoom lense/reach we had on the Oly - so I bought a 28-210 lense but found the performence poor in available light and hunted for a sharper lense...

Well - to cut things short, with an old collectors analog camera there came the Pentax-A 50/1.7 lense and I finally got my "wow" pictures. Sure there is the usual out-of-focus thingie and all the other mistakes, but I can't blame it on the lense and the camera in most cases - it's me.

So I know I have the good equipment (still looking for some additions at the wide and tele end) - and I use it 80%+ of the time. I learn to live with it's limitations and I learn to use it's advantages.

50mm as a walkaround lense on a dSLR is tough. You limit your field of view dramatically. But on the other hand you are almost "forced" to follow a basic composition rule: "fill the frame". You almost always have to decide what special feature, detail etc. is important and what picture you want to take - a hard thing to do, especially for me because I like "to capture a moment". People, animals, every-day situations, whatever. Everything moves and changes and you have that camera in your hands and with the craddle on "A" setting you just choose the DOF you are trying for and focus and then click away.

Well - you asked for a story... here is one. On some days I hate the limitations of that lense, on some days I praise it. On good days I take photos I don't even have to crop to have something with a decent compositionAND that incredible high quality the old Pentax lense gives me.

There was a concert in a church around christmas and everybody and his grandma brought the point&shoot-(ultra)zoom-"100+1 controls"-and-funny-features-camera. They flashed away the whole evening but I got the pictures with the ambient light, the people/performers carrying candles, the "feeling" of that church and concert, just by using my DL2 and the 50/1.7 lense.

Yes - I think it's a good idea to limit yourself like that. I'll probably try to get my hands on a wide prime and a tele prime lens and carry these 3 lenses with me to be able to adjust to my position in relation to the target when I can't move (example: concert and a 28mm lense --> can't get good shots of the performers. In that case I'd change to the 100mm+ lense and stay with it, so it's a very basic selection)

Unfortunately this doesn't work all the time, mainly because this would limit the camera use to my person. For walkaround/family use I still need a lense, that is decent in available light and sports AF for the easy "point&shoot" situations.

Regards,
Th.
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