New Camera and Lovely Birds

Last week I upgraded my camera bag to include a new Canon 7D camera body. As with any new piece of equipment, I had to take it out immediately and start working with it to learn its ins and outs, so we went to the Gilbert Water Ranch for a BEAUTIFUL walk among the trees and birds. Hummingbirds were everywhere, and there were blue herons, egrets, ducks, and zillions of other kinds of birds that I haven’t the first clue what they are. I can’t wait to go back, now that I’ve figured out how to set the focus points and the autofocus modes on this camera.

Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch

Summer Storms

I just LOVE summer storms. I’ve been known to hang around lightning storms for hours to get the perfect photo — something about the power of a big storm is edifying and cathartic. And getting cool lightning photos is very satisfying. Of course, getting cool photos is satisfying anyway, but I just like lightning.

We had a couple of series of storms come through in the last couple of weeks, and I chased them and got some really fun stuff. Taking good lightning photos isn’t that difficult; you just need a camera that you can set to manual mode and shoot with a long shutter speed. For these I used ISO 200, 30 seconds of shutter and an aperture that varied between f/6.3 and 7.1 or so. The camera was on a tripod and I used my 70-200L lens. Enjoy!

Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning

Just walking around

So whenever I go out, I usually take a camera with me. Recently, I joined a group of other photographers for a photo walk around Litchfield Park, AZ. Though it may seem at first glance that there’s not much to see in a small town like Litchfield, there’s always a lot to photograph. A tip for budding photographers is to look closely at things for patterns, repeating designs, contrasting colors, and shapes. It’s not necessary to photograph a whole building; rather, photographing parts of a building can be far more interesting and graphically pleasing.

Here are a few of my shots from the photo walk in Litchfield. Enjoy!

Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times

Finding the Light

So I went out with a group of photographers and models a while back to play a game. The game was to “find the light”; we weren’t to augment existing light in downtown Phoenix at night. As a photographer, the only real tool I have is light. Without light, the best camera in the world cannot make a photograph (“photo” means light, of course).

This is a REAL challenge, and we had a blast. April tagged along as our model, and she is just so cute and game for anything, even though it was chilly and we walked around a lot. For those of you photographers out there, most of these were shot at ISO 3200, and noise reduction was done in Lightroom after the fact.

The full set can be found here. Click on Proofsets, and then on Finding the Light. 🙂

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

The Verdict on the New Toy: The F-word

I know that to some photographers, the F-word is “Film.” Not to me. I love old cameras and shooting film, and I know there are many out there who feel the same way. Film is FUN; I personally believe that film will never totally disappear as a photographic medium. It may become primarily a medium for art photographers, but I don’t think it will ever go away completely.

When I bought this old Contaflex at Goodwill, I was hoping that the superb cosmetic condition of the camera was indicative of its mechanical condition. So I took some throwaway Fuji 100 print film and ran it through my Contaflex when the Collings Foundation’s planes were in Glendale, and finally got around to developing it. This film was expired and hadn’t been kept refrigerated, so I was unsure as to whether it would be an accurate representation of the condition of the camera. I took the film to a local Walgreens and had a CD made for each roll along with the prints. FAR too expensive for the crappy quality of the printing and scanning, but after loading the negatives into my negative scanner and getting some decent scans, the verdict is — the Zeiss seems to be in perfect working condition. Amazing.

I’m in love with this thing. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s a joy to hold and work the controls on, and it takes great pictures. What more could a photographer want? I have three more rolls of old Kodak Portra 160 to use up, and then I think I’ll get some Ilford 125 for my bulk roller and some Microphen developer to play with. I plan to take the camera with me to Missouri week after next and have a great time with it. I think I’ve found my new walkaround camera.

Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film

New Toy!

I have to show off my new toy. Those of you who know me know I love old things, and old cameras in particular. I have a Speed Graphic 4×5 that I love to play with — it uses the F word (film). There’s just something wonderful about old cameras: the workmanship, the metal construction, the solid feel of a good one — these are things that make my world go ’round.

So here I was, wandering in a Goodwill store the other day and there in the locked case was a brown camera case. Normally, I discount cameras that are donated to Goodwill, but I decided to take a look at it, as it looked old. So I asked the lady to unlock the case and let me take a peek at it. Inside I discovered a true treasure — a rare Zeiss Contaflex IV camera from 1957-1959, in almost mint condition. The case itself is in beautiful shape, and the camera has barely a scratch on it. I’ve run two rolls of film through it and I’ll post images from it when I get them developed. I hope this thing works. It’s a beautiful thing.

BTW, I like Goodwill. They provide a great service to the community. I donate to them as often as I have stuff to donate, and I like to browse through their shelves on occasion. One never knows — one can get lucky. I did.

Contaflex IV