Monday, August 31, 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Well it certainly is tricky trying to set up new shots every day, and as such no new photos at the moment.

Kids seem to sap your time and energy. Who knew?

New pics to come tonight, hopefully.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's try this again!

Second attempt at the dice macro.

I roll 20s - 2nd attempt

Same 'basic' composition, with the following changes. I brought the ISO down to 200 and let the shutter speed come up to 1.3s to compensate. The colour of dice is obviously different as well, which really helps the contrast, I think. Lighting was improved, and the white balance is better. Less clutter in the frame as well.

The obvious problem is the reflection on the table surface. They are minor, but I should have diffused the light better.

Still, I like this picture better than the first attempt.

Take two!

After getting some critiques over at DPS, I'm going to try the dice concept again. My lighting was off, the white balance is way off and the composition is too cluttered.

I'll try another take tonight, and see if those few changes will help the picture.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This is how I roll...

This is one of the compositions that I was running through in my head prior to getting the extension tubes. When I shot it, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I'm not sure what it's missing.

Anyhow, this is how I roll, and I roll 20s.

I roll 20s

I guess I've let the nerd out of the bag.

This was taken with the 12mm tube on the 50mm/f1.8, ISO 800, f5.6, .6sec exposure, no flash on the tripod with a cable release. Again, not exactly what I was looking for, but I'm happy with the colours, and the long exposure did give me the deep wood grain that I was hoping for without letting the orange on the die become overpowering.

It's still not quite right, but I'm not sure what it's missing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Macro test shots.

Well the clouds have not cleared, but an opportunity arose while making breakfast for Dear Daughter this morning.

A brief bit of sunlight cut through the clouds and hit on the strawberries I was preparing for her breakfast. I liked the way the blinds threw a shadow, and I started taking shots.

Here is the first:

Then it was time to break out the extension tubes. I took a shot with each of the tubes individually (12mm, 20mm and 36mm), but the light was too low to shoot either the 20mm or 36 without a flash. Using the onboard flash worked quite well, but there is a clear difference in the exposure and white balance in those shots. All the macro shots were taken with my tripod and a cable release.

Here is the 12mm:

The 20mm:

The 36mm:

I'm very happy with these tubes!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The tubes have landed...

...but the clouds are back. It's a busy weekend as well, but I will try and manage at least one macro today and see the results.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I found a set on Kenko extension tubes on Kijiji for $100. To give you an idea, they run for $239 at the local photography store.

I'm picking up the tubes tomorrow afternoon, and I'll be sure to post a few shots assuming I have decent light tomorrow. I'll try the same snapdragons to get a good comparison.

Other macro options...

I've been reading about extension tubes, and they might be a viable option for my macro needs until I can get a dedicated lens.

I was looking at the Canon EF25 extender, but the forums at Digital Photography School have given me a few other options from ProOptics and Kenko as well. Since there is no glass in these, I can't imagine that there would be a significant difference between these tubes and the Canon ones.

Still waiting to sell my PowerShot S5 IS, but that would easily finance a set of tubes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snapdragons in the front garden.

Not much time between clouds to shoot, so I took a quick dozen shots. The composition was tough because of the solar light in the background, which I should have removed in hindsight. None of the shots struck me as particularly good, but I liked this one the best. Again, a dedicated macro lens would have been very nice here.

Lighting was quite low, and the wind was blowing, so I'm happy that the focus is as sharp as it is, although it could have been sharper. This picture was taken with the kit lens instead of the 50mm for a change of pace. ISO 200, 1/50 shutter, F5.0 without flash.


New pics tonight, whatever I can snap hurriedly between getting home from work, and feeding dear daughter.

The advantage of point and shoot.

I don't think I appreciated my old point and shoot camera enough. Most digital point and shoots have really solid macro modes, and with my current lens selection, that's something I now lack.

I had several ideas for compositions in the last two days, but I could never get a proper focus with the right composition on either of my lenses. The 50mm has a minimum distance of something like 8 inches, and the 18-55mm is about the same. For shooting small objects, they become so small in the frame that you might as well not shoot it. I'll save those compositions for another day.

Speaking of another day, it's been rain and more rain again here, thus no new pictures. I hope I have better luck and better conditions over the weekend. In the meantime, it's off to eBay to watch for cheap macro lenses!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No pictures for Tuesday.

The upside of having young children is always having a subject for pictures. The down side is finding time to take them. I'll try again this evening.

In the meantime, I've been reading and rereading a variety of articles at my favourite photography website, Digital Photography School. Some of the articles on composition have already helped I think.

In my first photo of my daughter, I worked with the rule of thirds to try and bring the attention of the viewer to her eyes, and I also tried to 'fill the frame' to make her face more striking.

In the photo of the paints, I tried to compose with a 'lower-left to upper-right diagonal' which is supposed to help draw the reader into the photo. I do like both pictures more than most I have taken, so I do suspect these rules are helping.

I doubt I have an readers at the moment, but I welcome any comments or criticism if you are out there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday's pictures...

Found two subjects, one that I sort of planned, and another that just turned up.

The first is my Brown-Headed Parrot, Twiglet. I just got a shot of her as she sat on the door of her cage. This is her inquisitive look, one that I often get before she attempts to remove a huge chunk of my finger. She is very much my wife's pet in this regard...

The other was just a fluke. Dear daughter spent a while this afternoon painting pictures, and my wife left the paints out to dry before putting them away. I was going to try and do this shot on a white background, but I think the contrast with the near-black countertop works well. I'm more pleased with this shot than I thought I would be.

I'm still taking these shots in aperture priority mode on the 50mm 1.8 lens at the moment, I find the narrow depth of field the most pleasing effect for these types of shots. If I can get to that fountain on a sunny day, I'll try some shutter priority experiments next.

Rainy days...

A piece of advice that I picked up over on Ask Metafilter told me to start paying attention to light, how it reflects, what happens when things move, and that eventually I would learn to 'think photographically'. Today it's overcast and rainy here, and I suppose I never noticed before that everything becomes so flat without the contrast of light and shadow.

I want to post a new photo every day, and so far the weather has made everything that I would consider shooting outdoors rather bland by comparison.

For instance, outside of my office there is a fountain that has a series of jets in a straight line. It's a bit cliched, but I wanted to take a few pictures of the jets from different perspectives, and play with shutter speed and depth of field. In the overcast light, however, I can't imagine anything exposing well, let alone looking good enough to photograph.

I'll try something at home tonight instead.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Well, here I go.

I've ordered all the equipment, and I'm ready to start taking pictures. I've been reading a ton of links on photo basics, composition rules and the like but the thing I need most, at this point, is practice.

Let's just say that my good lady wife is already tired of having the new camera appear everywhere.

Here is the equipment I have assembled to start my photographic endeavours:

  • Canon EOS 450D (aka Rebel XSi)
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS Lens (Kit lens)
  • Canon EF 50mm 1.8 Lens (Nifty fifty!)
  • Manfrotto 055XB Tripod w/ ball head
Next on the list might be a speedlite, followed by a telephoto zoom/wide-angle/macro as the need arises and the funds become available. I certainly could have come up with a cheaper hobby given that my wife is on mat leave and I have a month-old son, that's certain.

So without any further blathering, the best shot I managed to take in the first day of shooting, my daughter, snuggling on the couch with me.

I'm biased and all, but she has wonderful eyes. She and my son are pretty much the whole reason I am doing this.