My Tiny (Old) Digital Camera is GREAT Too!

Ever since I started my journey with photography it seems that every camera I use is GREAT, no matter how old it is. The entire world of photography has opened up to me since I’ve learned to take my camera’s off manual. One “advantage” my little Canon camera has over the Canon T5i is – it’s always in my pocketbook and I can take nice quality pictures on a whim!

Every weekend my husband and I go shopping at Trader Joe’s in Edgewater, NJ, which is located on the Hudson River across from New York City. It’s cold and gray in my neck of the woods and the river is cold and pretty. There are always photo opportunities as the George Washington Bridge is off to my left and the New York City skyline is off to my right.

What I have learned in using the settings on my little pocket camera is changing the light setting. I’m still figuring out ISO as I’m not exactly sure what that setting affects, but it’s fun to try different settings to see how the photos look on screen.

I thought learning photography was going to be easy…well it’s not so easy, especially when you have a full time job and can’t really travel to take nice pictures as I see so many other great photographers take. It’s a bit disheartening, but I’m determined to make the best with what I have.

Sparrows and a Woodpecker

My Bird Friends during lunch (Paramus, NJ)

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George Washington Bridge (from Edgewater, NJ)

 

George Washington Bridge

Another George Washington Bridge view (from Edgewater, NJ)

 

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New York City skyline on a dreary day and the sunken Binghamton on the Hudson River.

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New York City Skyline (from the New Jersey Turnpike). First attempt taking photo from a moving vehicle.

 

A Long Cold Winter in New Jersey

Next time I decide to get a new camera I think I’ll wait until the springtime! It’s been a very long and cold winter here in New Jersey and it’s been difficult to get outside to take some photos.  It’s been snowing every other day for the past month and I found myself fearful of taking my camera outside to take a picture. I was afraid to get snowflakes on it. Will I ruin my lens? Can my lens actually operate in 0 degree weather? Perhaps a more seasoned photographer out there could advise me as to the wisdom of taking a really good camera out into bad weather. I guess a reasonable answer is, if no one took their camera out into the bad weather we’d have no pictures of the snow or rain. But how do you protect your camera and is it reasonable for a newbie to avoid extreme weather conditions?

My time has not been wasted during these harsh winter months. In between shoveling feet of snow and driving very carefully I’ve been looking for some keen camera angles and waiting for a break in the weather to snap a few winter scenes. Here are a few I was able to get the other day in about 36 degree weather (which felt quite warm!).

The picture below was taken along a walking path in the Saddle River County Park (Saddle Brook area) in NJ. What I liked about this picture was this small area where it was just water. The entire lake was frozen except this one little section and for me it was the first sign that Spring was just around the corner (11 days from the time of this post).

Winter in New Jersey

Winter in New Jersey

Here’s a picture of the entire frozen lake. The photo above was taken way down the other end of this picture. You can’t tell where the earth and water begin or end. What I like about this picture is the shadow of the tree branches on the snow. It reminds me of the roots of the tree below the surface.

Tree Roots in the Snow.

Roots in the Snow

Here’s another view of the frozen lake:

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The Thaw Begins

Even the bench can’t wait for Spring!

Reflections of Winter 2015.

Reflections of Winter 2015

Along this path:

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A Winter Path

We found this:

A Cozy Crazy Cabin in the Woods

A Cozy Crazy Cabin in the Woods

How nice is this?! I think this little cabin is the owner’s way to bring color and excitement to the not so colorful white world of winter.

Our walk this past weekend was nice, but my face was frozen toward the end of our walk. I felt a little rusty using my big fat new camera out in the cold, but I think I did ok. My camera didn’t freeze or stop working, nothing happened to the lens or buttons. It was my first “bad weather outing” with it. No precipitation was falling out of the sky but it was a bit windy and there was snow on the ground in some places. Nevertheless, my camera is safe and sound with me waiting for our next big photo shoot! LOL!

Lessons about Exposure and Lighting

I had the pleasure of photographing a very beautiful Siamese cat named MooShu. He is a very peaceful cat who adores interacting with people. He is an older gentleman with beautiful deep blue eyes and a magnificent silky smooth coat. Moo, as I affectionately call him, is an excellent cat to photograph as he is very trusting and not at all skittish.

Choosing my first subject was easy. However, choosing where he would be photographed wasn’t so easy. Moo likes is special place which is an upstairs room with not a lot of light. So, how do I handle this?  I tried first to photograph an object that I thought would be similar lighting as the room that Moo was in, but I was wrong.

The object I chose to focus on to pre-set my settings before photographing Moo was a small metal butterfly sitting on a special shelf that was all its own. The lighting in the room was an overhead chandelier and I wasn’t sure if the lights were fluorescent or regular light bulbs. But once I shot this photo, I thought I’d be all ready to seamlessly shoot some photos of Moo. I was wrong…

Metal Butterfly

Metal Butterfly

Moo was in an upstairs room. The lighting was completely different. As a matter of fact it was almost non-existent! Moo liked to hang out in what was described as the “MooShu Lair!” Yes, it was indeed Moo’s very own room. It was a simple room that was quiet and peaceful just like Moo. But…the lighting was completely different. I did not think about the lighting being different from room to room. The room had one small decorative lamp sitting on a side table and a window. The sun had set and dusk had set in. MooShu was barely visible on the couch in the room. You would think I could get Moo to move to a different room, but he was sooooo comfortable laying on the couch I didn’t have the heart to call him to another room. So much for pre-setting my camera to easily take pictures.=

Now I was at a loss. Since the room was dark I couldn’t see the buttons on the camera to figure out what settings I should change to accommodate the lighting.  After “fiddling” around with the settings, here is the first picture I took of Moo in the dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

Sheesh…that is just awful…I know!!!  Here’s the second photo I shot in which I increased the ISO:

Moo Shu - same dark room different settings.

Moo Shu – same dark room different settings.

Oh, boy…not much better. But then it dawned on me. E X P O S U R E! I needed to increase the exposure! So, that’s what I did.

MooShu – dark room – increased exposure

Ahhhh…much better! This is the MooShu I know.

There are a few lessons I learned during this photo session:

  1. You can’t preset your camera’s setting while standing in a different room from where the picture is actually being taken.
  2. I need to memorize the buttons on my camera. It was very frustrating not really knowing which button showed the correct menu on the camera’s screen.
  3. I need to relax. There was no pressure here. I was only with my husband and Moo and there was no reason to be nervous, but I was.
  4. I realized that I don’t yet have a good grip on exactly how ISO, Exposure, Aperture and all the other settings affect the photograph.  I need more lessons.

Here are a few more pictures of MooShu.  I love that cat!

MooShu and Mark

Beautiful MooShu

Beautiful MooShu

My Big Fat New Camera Teaches Me About Patience

As you can see from my very first post, I’ve always liked taking pictures and I’ve always liked birds. Put the two together and I’m taking a lot of pictures of birds.  I’ve found that birds don’t especially like posing for photos. Hence, one of the first really clear and focused pictures I had the pleasure of taking is, well, the derrière of a house-sparrow. What can I say?! He wouldn’t turn around fast enough for me! Sigh.

My first clearly focused picture of a bird is the derrière of a house-sparrow.

My first clearly focused picture of a bird is the derrière of a house-sparrow.

I’ll spare you all the details but when reviewing the photos I took today, I could zoom in on this bird’s behind, and boy was it crystal clear! Sheesh! Oh if only this little bird turned around oh it would have been a beauty! But you know what? It’s a decent picture! The bird is clear, the color of the sky is beautiful and the branches of the tree are just pretty.

I can remember when I zoomed in on this little bird. In my head I kept saying, “Turn around, c’mon, turn around.” I was as if I was trying to will him to turn around!  He did turn around eventually. I had just snapped the picture, quickly reviewed the it on the screen, and I looked up to see the bird was facing me! As quick as I tried to aim my camera at him to snap his cute little face – he flew away! If I only waited 3 more seconds I would have had the best ever shot of a house-sparrow on the planet!

So, today’s lesson is one of patience to get the best shot. I think the next time I take pictures of birds I’ll take my time. I’ll give them a chance to get used to my presence so they can go about their business of being birds. I was thinking perhaps it’s a good idea to look for the best shot, not just the only shot available. Then again, will I miss an opportunity for the photo of a life time? Is it possible that I’m just over-thinking this? I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Of course I did get a few more photos of some birds today, but there were branches blocking the view or there was just too much shade.

The bottom like today is, the picture of the sparrow’s derrière was the best photo of the day.  Perhaps it was also the most thought-provoking for this newbie photographer. What do you think?

On the bright side, it IS the best picture on the planet of a house sparrow’s derrière! 🙂

 

My Big Fat New Camera Takes It’s First Picture (Beware! It’s not pretty!)

I always dreamed that if I ever got a DSLR camera, the first picture I took would be the Holy Grail of pictures. It would be the most beautiful picture I ever took in my entire life! I would show this picture to my family and friends, their jaws would drop open, while their eyes feasted on the most beautiful picture they ever saw.  They would look at me with eyes wide open and think, “Wow! She’s a natural-born photographer!” I would smile and beam and be a proud of my first DSLR picture.  It would be such a grand  picture it would go viral and its vibrant colors would flash across computers around the world! Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Oh yeah, jaws will drop open upon seeing this picture, and people will indeed contemplate my skills as a “photographer,” but not in the way I hoped. Sigh…here’s the picture:

Bad Buttons Pic

Wow, what happened?  If you’re wondering if my dog is okay, yes she is. I did think I flashy-thinged her and though perhaps I wiped out her memory after she got hit with that bright white blinding flash – and thankfully she can still see!  Yikes.

There is good news, besides my dog being okay. I’ve been practicing since I took that picture and I’m getting better already!!! One thing I like about My Big Fat New Camera is the controls are very user-friendly and I have a feeling the picture you see above is the worst picture this big fat new camera will ever take.

I can’t wait to share them with you! Here is a picture I took on the fly today (pun intended). I was trying to photograph a few birds in my yard today and I looked up and saw this plane flying over and I quickly snapped this picture. It’s not crystal clear, but I don’t know…It’s the best airplane photo I EVER taken in my life. Oh, I’m going to really like My Big Fat New Camera – a lot!

Small Plane Pic

My Big Fat New Camera Is Here!

Well, today is the day I received a REAL camera. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned cameras before, but this camera is different. It’s not the box camera I had as a child in the 60’s, or the Polaroid I had in the seventies, or the flat Kodak pocket camera I had in the 80’s. This is a DSLR with lenses that I actually have to screw on! This is the Christmas present I received from my husband – the camera of my choice!  (Yeah, I have a GREAT husband!)

The camera I received today is a Canon T5i and although everything I read said not to get a “camera bundle,” I just couldn’t resist, and bought a camera bundle! It came with so much “stuff!” Let’s see, it had the Canon T5i camera body, 4 lenses (2 Canon lenses), a nice camera bag, 64 GB card, extra battery, and a lot of accessory items. I actually bought it on Ebay after doing MUCH research with my husband, of course! I bought it from a reliable Ebay-er, with excellent reviews and return policy. I also made sure the camera had a USA warranty and was not gray market.

Why did I choose the Canon T51? – Well The Camera I had prior to this one was also a Canon Powershot SD 1000.  It’s a great little camera, easy to use, and produces great pictures. Granted, the Powershot is not in the same league as the T5i, but it’s a nice little camera. I also watched a great review of the T5i on YouTube by a guy under the name of Faymusmedia:

So, when opening the box and looking at my first DSLR, I was kind of nervous! The grip of the camera is fantastic, it feels like a natural extension of your hand and the controls are logically laid out within the natural reach of your fingers. I charged the battery (approx. 2 hours for full charge), put it in the camera, turned the switch on AND…nothing happened. Turns out a DSLR has to have the lens screwed on in order for the camera to turn on. (I told you I was a newbie!)

Putting the Lens On – I was once again nervous. (Lord, don’t let me drop the lens!) I delicately took the lens out of the bubble wrap and took off the lens caps and screwed the lens on. (This was seriously a big deal to me!) Once I was sure the lens was securely on the body of the camera, I nervously turned the camera on and…it worked! (WOW!)

I unfolded the screen from the back of the camera and saw the screen light up! I looked through the eyepiece and depressed shutter button half-way and saw a bunch of little red lights through the view finder! (Far out, right?) I pushed the button further and took a picture! It was lightning fast! Holy Moly! I saw my first photo flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and disappear. I did it! I decided to try to take another picture. I took a picture of my dog Buttons…ok, 3, 2, 1, click.  Good Lord, I think I blinded my dog! It looked like I “flashy-thinged” her like the guys from Men in Black!  I saw that picture flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and it was kind of bad.  I need to get to the next step and read about how to use the settings. But, that didn’t matter at that moment because “I” took my first step into the world of DSLRs!

What an exciting day…I put a lens on a camera body (first time ever) and took my first DSLR photo on my very own DSLR camera. Wooo-Hooo! This doesn’t make me a photographer, but it makes me one step closer to perhaps being one!