Faith, Family, Friends and Firearms

Category: Photography

Further Developments In Photographic Expression

Building on experiments here on my blog dealing with photographic expression, I decided to simply dedicate a domain to that endeavor, so was obtained, hosted next to our mission blog and my personal (this) blog. My hope is that this will help me to 1) keep my photographic learning and sharing organized into its own space; 2) help me focus on choosing which of the many pictures I take to share with others; and 3) help me track improvement in my photographic learning trajectory as well as 4) give me a simple URL to share with folks who might be interested in what I have to share there.

It’s not much to look at yet, but I have hopes of sharing some of the beauty that I see around us, even in an urban environment such as where my wife and I live. Even in an urban area of over a half million people one can see God’s handiwork – if one will look. Botanical Beauty – Looking Out My Front Door, for example, takes a look at what is there to see, if one will, just stepping out our front door.

I’m hoping to bring back some vintage lenses to experiment with as well when I return from an upcoming trip north. Photography as an art form is one means of helping people to see God’s handiwork and His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made – as stated in Romans 1:20.

Thoughts on Upgrading Photographic Essentials

Recently I started a new page on this blog, “This Is My Father’s World“. There I hope to share pictures of nature that I take with my trusty old Canon DSLR’s. As mentioned in a post by the same name, I’m doing my best to get into shooting “off auto”, using manual settings and learning how to get the shot I want and the look I want.

Over the past few weeks where I’ve been working on this off and on, it has become obvious that my efforts would be improved by improved gear. This lead me to check out various channels on YouTube and to join a couple of groups on FaceBook about photography with Canon cameras. And I keep seeing the same questions over and over again – mostly along the lines of “Which camera should I buy?” or “Would this upgraded camera be worth it?” and so on and so forth. Now, I’m by no means a professional photographer, but both of my current cameras are capable of pretty decent pictures under the right conditions. I’ll confess to looking longingly at this or that camera body that some “internet expert” touts as “the ultimate!” or “the absolute best!!!”, but the truth of the matter is – lenses count more than camera bodies.

The fact is – whatever you’ve got between your subject and the sensor is going to affect the image more than anything. Lower quality lenses will not give you the sharpness you’re looking for. “Slower” lenses are going to cause you to crank up the ISO and crank down the shutter speed, resulting in noisy or blurred images. A mediocre camear with top of the line glass will probably give you better results than the latest, greatest camera model that is currently being hyped on the ‘net – if it’s wearing mediocre lenses.

Kit lenses ARE capable of turning out some decent quality images – if the conditions are right. But they limit you in certain ways. For example, the 18-55mm lens typically sold with the Rebel series of Canon cameras has a maximum aperture of f/3.5, but as soon as you start zooming in it reduces quickly to a maximum of f/5.6 at 55mm focal length. This is fine if you’ve enough light to be using a smaller aperture anyway, such as an f/8. But when the light starts to fail in the evening or if the light is still dim in the morning or if you’re in a shady area or it’s a very cloudy day, this lens will simply not give you enough light for certain pictures.

When it comes to the camera body, one must ask: “Do I have good enough glass to take advantage of the capabilities of this new camera?” Also: “What will this camera body improve over the one I’m currently using?” In my own case, I’ve got three EF-S lenses, two 18-55’s and a 55-250mm. These are not the greatest lenses, but they’ve given me some really decent pictures, under the right conditions. I also currently have an EF 75-300, but it is also limited by the f3.5-5.6 aperture range. It really cramps the ability to take hand held shots in low light, such as this picture of El Nevado De Ruiz that I took recently as the light was fading fast.

Unfortunately, I did not grab my tripod when my wife called to say, “Get your camera. There’s something I want you to see!” She was coming home and had seen that the nevado was clear after a long period of hiding behind the clouds. If you click on the picture it’lll show you exactly how grainy and noisy it is – because the camera simply wasn’t able to receive enough light through that f/5.6, 1/100 shutter at 300mm zoom, and 6400 ISO. I’m sure the little Rebel T3 would have done just fine with a better lens, but my glass held me back, and that’s the best lens in the bag right now. It’s still a lovely enough photo, at low size such as in this thumbnail view above. You can see the pink tint from the sun setting behind me, but blow it up and the noise crops up.

Anyway, those are just some random thoughts I’ve come up with on the matter of upgrading photographic gear. I hope this year to be able to pick up a really decent lens, but don’t know right now which one to go for. Once we have some good glass we’ll start to see what these camera bodies are capable of.

This Is My Father’s World

One of my all time favorite hymns was written in 1901 by Maltbie D. Babcock. It is a call to remember – this world has an Owner and He is in ultimate charge, why should we then worry? Here are the lyrics.

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
~ Maltbie D. Babcock

As we come up to the 30th anniversary of my earthly father’s passing from this life, I’ve been quite pensive. Looking back at what I learned from him all those years ago reminds me of God’s love and mercy as well as the positive aspects of my father’s life and teaching. He taught me many things over the years and although he was no perfect father (who is, other than God Himself?) he left a legacy in his children of a love of God and God’s word and a willingness to try to do things ones’ self rather than depend on others. Dad was a very creative person and had amazing skill in many areas, and he passed some of this on to each of his kids.

One of those areas that I learned a little bit of is in the area of photography. Dad loved to take pictures and I can only imagine how much he would have enjoyed the new technologies available via digital photography and digital processing of images. Dad had a Konica Autoreflex TC and upon leaving home I managed to acquire one of my own. I didn’t know too much about photography, but did know that setting that lens on AE would allow me to control the shutter speed and focus and turn out some decent images.

Recently I looked around, trying to remember what camera it was, and eventually found an image and the name and a few details came surging back.

That old camera went with me on many adventures and recorded precious memories, but the cost of film and processing and the delays involved never allowed me to learn too much about the mechanics of decent photography.

And then came a Sony Mavica with its 640X480 jpgs, followed by a 3 megapixel camera that I can’t recall the manufacturer of and then a number of different cell phones, all allowing one to snap a quick digital image and share it online with others. But again, not much about photography was learned other than “let the camera do it all”, which sometimes is enough, but often falls far short of what one is seeking to portray.

And then we stopped at a Walmart for a bathroom break while up in the US and on their clearance rack was a Canon Rebel XT at a very attractive price. Once more I had in my hands a Single Lens Reflex camera – but with the added attraction of digital imaging. Unfortunately, however, it seemed easier to continue to slough off and let the camera do it all.

A few years later and we were in California and stopped in a pawn shop where they had a Canon Rebel T1i at a very attractive price, due to the fact that the battery was flat and no charger available. So I took the risk, ordered a new battery and charger off of Amazon and it was promptly delivered, allowing me to test and find that the camera was in very good shape and fully functional. And the original battery took and held a charge (and several years later it still does).

But again, let the camera do it all was the modus operandi. But this simply isn’t enough when you want to do a good job of portraying images of the world around. So recently I started delving into the mysteries of ISO, Shutter Speed and F/Stops. And started taking pictures of the world around me to share with others, using my own judgment as to settings and ending up with some decent pictures in the process.

So, in the spirit of “This Is My Father’s World” I intend to share pictures here on my blog, pictures shot with intentionality and and not just happenstance. I’ve already run into some of the limitations that come from the relatively slow “kit lenses” that my cameras came with, so the hunt is on for other options. One aspect of modernity that intrigues me is the opportunity to mate the technology of yesterday with that of today. The hunt is on for one of the Konica lenses from yesteryear and an adapter ring to allow me to use it on my “modern” DSLR. This should give me the chance to finally use such a lens to its potential instead of just running it on AE as before. In fact, mating it to a modern Canon would REQUIRE manual use of settings and focus instead of point and shoot and “let the camera do it all”.

I look forward to developing this idea further.

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