I’ve been knee-deep in photography-related activities lately but have barely written about them here, other than posting a few pictures. Let me fill you in on how things have been going.
Looks like I wrote about my camera back in July after I got it, outlining how I made the decision to go with my model. I’ve made some additional equipment purchases since then.
The Olympus e-420 is a great camera for me. It’s small, light and I take it everywhere with me. It came with a 25mm f/2.8 pancake lens. This lens is a fixed focal length lens that’s very tiny. It’s a great lens; super useful.
After taking lots of photos with that lens, I felt I needed a zoom lens to capture more far away stuff, so I bought a 40-150mm f/4-5.6 lens. It’s a fairly cheap lens; it’s clearly lots of plastic, rather small in size and I have to use some sort of stabilizer (like a tripod, monopod or home-made monopod) because it’s very susceptible to camera shake. But it does take photos of gargoyles on the top of 20 story buildings and such, and I’m glad I have it. I got some good shots at the track with it. (I have to say with a great deal of thanks to my friend Rachel, who is very familiar with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and had a handle on where all to go to get good photos. She was a great location scout.)
My next lens purchase was a 12-60mm f/2.8 lens that I got just before Christmas. This is the workhorse that stays on my camera a lot of the time, because it captures wide angle shots really well at the 12mm focal length but also gives me plenty of range without having to switch lenses. The downside is that it’s rather large and heavy, and people tend to react to the size of it negatively. They think it’s a paparazzi spy lens and that I’m invading their privacy (never), or they think I’m a professional photographer and ask me to take their photos for money (no, please. the pressure!). The large size has nothing to do with focal length of the camera – it’s about the lens quality. It’s a really heavy, sturdy piece of glass that I like a lot.
And my most recent acquisition is a 50mm macro lens. I’ve been having a LOT of fun with this, although I’m still getting used to it. Lots of my recent photos of miniature action figures have been taken with this lens.
I carry this and all my other crap around in a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home camera bag. I picked that one out because it’s what my brother and one of my friends carry. It’s cool because it doesn’t really look at that much like a camera bag, or like a lunch cooler, which is what a lot of camera bags resemble. It’s a tight fit to get the camera and all four lenses in there along with other general purse-like items. At times I pick a lens to leave at home. But I have tried out the next size up (the Crumpler Six Million) and didn’t care for it; a bit too bulky and noticeable.
I have a cheap Kodak Monopod and a couple of inexpensive tripods, too. I haven’t used them as much because I’ve been shooting mostly hand-held. This dandy little home-made device has really helped me out a few times, though:
The gear I have covers everything I want to do right now – mainly that’s becoming good at taking good photos for the time being. The class I took helped a great deal. It was just four weeks, once night a week – but it filled in the gaps in my knowledge of what my camera can do. I have a lot more practice that I need to do on the fundamentals before it will become second nature to me. I still have to think through getting the right exposure each time, and I need to be more bold about seeking out the shot I can see is there.
I also need to find my visual voice – what is it I’m trying to see and photograph and how do I take those photos to get the look I want. I have favorite photographers on flickr that I follow for inspiration. I think I have an idea of what I want to express visually. I’m just not sure how to achieve that on the technical side yet.
I think the most time-consuming and least favorite task is the photo editing. I don’t enjoy that as much and am perpetually behind on that task, so it’s days or weeks after an event before I finally get photos ready.