aka 'Canon Corner'

Newsflash: Perhaps it's not the equipment

While I was enjoying my Canon iXus 850 point & shoot camera, I upgraded to a Canon 5D dSLR because I wanted to obtain more control and higher resolution amongst other things in an attempt to take my photography to the next level.

Of course, we all know the better the equipment, the better the photo. Right? See the excellent (IMHO) picture below of Mornington Pier as proof. Nice feel, good detail, correctly exposed, and well sharpened by image management software as well. Fantastic!

Old Pier, Mornington, f2.8 - 2008

Well, yes AND no. While I do like this image a lot, it was actually taken with my Apple iPhone! And it is straight from the phone, totally untouched by Photoshop et al. So perhaps it is not always the camera/software, but the subject, the light, the moment, a little luck and some care and attention from the 'object' behind the lens.

A sobering thought.

Lessons from a Pro

I am trying to get a bit more (OK, well a lot more) out of my dSLR camera in particular and photography in general. So I attended an ‘Introduction to Digital Photography’ Workshop in late November. It was run by a Melbourne photographer, Tom Putt and was well worth the price of admission.

Robin riding ‘Diva’ @ Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre (ISO 200, f4.0, 1/200 sec)

The course accommodated only seven attendees and was very relaxed and informal. An excellent learning environment if you felt a little intimidated like I did.

The format of the day was understanding the intricacies of Aperture, Shutter and ISO, then learning about camera controls followed by Q&A in the morning. A relaxed lunch at a bayside cafe split the day. Then it was back to pick up the cameras and head outside to take some shots. All taken in Manual mode, reading our histograms and using the dSLR’s in-built light meters to ensure correct exposures. Both landscape and portrait subjects were available.

The Rocks, Mornington (ISO 200 f4.0 1/1000 sec)

The day really taught me the SLR photography basics and gave me the knowledge and confidence to use my camera in 'Manual' mode to get correctly exposed photos in most normal conditions.

Of course this does not make me a good photographer, but with more experience, practice and perhaps another of Tom’s workshops, I could be on my way!

The Photogenic Suzy in December 2008 (Canon 5D, 67mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1/100 sec)

I am getting better........

I must say I have been a little disappointed with the the performance of my Canon 5D to date. To be honest, the issue is my photographic and camera management skills.

On Full Auto and Program AE, the quality of the RAW pictures were visibly worse than my Canon iXus 850 point & shoot JPGs.

When in doubt buy more gear is my normal motto. So I went out and picked up a Canon 50mm f1.4 USM prime lens (replacing my f1.8 version). Heading out recently for a test, playing with the manual Shutter (Tv) settings, I managed to capture some half decent images, IMHO. The following are small JPEGS of the originals.

2003 911 Carrera 4S at Arthurs Seat - 2008 (Shutter 1/400, Aperture f/7.1, ISO 200)

And another:

Ten Minutes by Tractor Winery Restaurant, Red Hill - 2008,
(Shutter 1/400, Aperture f/5, ISO 200)

So, progress at last. Even at one of my wife’s riding events in an indoor arena, I managed to take some viewable snaps in the weak internal light using the 24-105 lens this time. Of course, flash is not allowed as it disturbs the fillies & mares. The horses don’t appreciate it either.

Robin riding ‘Diva’ @ Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre - 2008 (Cropped) (Shutter 1/60. Aperture f/4., ISO 200)

I am looking forward to my next outdoor outing but my current challenge is the come to grips with some indoor stuff using the Speedlite flash. There have been a couple of unsatisfactory sessions so far, so it is back to the manual and some experimentation. More soon.

Shutter Blog Day One

Howdy, and welcome to an ad hoc discussion of my exploits with all things photographic.

Unfortunately, I had planned to attend an Apple Aperture 2 event in the city this afternoon but a violent wind & dust storm in Melbourne today bought a tree down across my drive way and I couldn't get out until the debris was cleared late evening.

Some of my 'better' work can be found updated regularly here: My Photo Gallery

Anyway, my primary hardware is:
- Canon EOS 5D w/Battery grip
- Canon EF 24-105mm IS USM f4.0 'L'
- Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM
- Canon Speedlite 580 EX II
- Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote
- Assorted extras: Manfrotto Monopod & Tripod, Canon & Hoya filters, 2 x 4GB Sandisk Extreme III CF
- LowePro Mini Trekker Backpack

As for systems & software, I have an Apple MacBook Pro (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz w/4GB memory) and use the Canon EOS Utilities, Apple Aperture 2 and the Apple iLife suite.