Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Marsha's Song

This post will probably ramble, so if you want to stop reading now, that's OK with me.  Sometimes, I can't even read other people's rambles.  The title of this blog is A Photo a day.  The actual URL reads a photoortwoaday because aphotoaday was already taken on Blogger.  Not like that really matters because I had high hopes when I first started and then life got in the way.

For example, it's been 16 days since my one and only post for this year.  I could make excuses and say I've been busy playing with my new lens and that would be partially true.  But I'm not sure it's that honest.  True, I have been doing a lot of different things but one of them has been playing computer games.  Yeah, I've set up our old computer in the back bedroom and all three of us (the boys of the family) have been using the computer to play various games.

So I've gotten lazy if we want to be perfectly honest and I need to get away from that.  I've actually been timing myself on the "gaming" computer and trying to limit myself to an hour at a time.  That doesn't always work, but it's a start in the right direction.  Some might say a better start would be to not play games at all.  Yeah, well there's that, but I find computer games entertaining and relaxing.

But to get back to my photo a day project.  Three years ago, I started a photo project called 365.  The purpose was to get people to go out and try and take a photo every single day for an entire year.  Well, I succeeded in that endeavor and continued on for a second straight year.  730 days later, I posted my first "filler" shot, a shot not taken on that particular date.  

I started a third year on January 1st, 2013, but it eventually ran out of steam sometime in May of that year. I couldn't keep up a pace of a photo a day, nor did I want to at that point, so I quit.  I had personal reasons for starting the project in 2011 and those reasons didn't exist anymore, so it was time to let go of the 365 Project.  But, in case you haven't been paying close attention, I've decided to start up the 365 project again.  

It's a little bit more loose fitting in that I won't be adhering to the photo taken on that date.  I want my shots to be quality shots.  I say that as I posted a photo of my spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove for today's shot, taken with an iPad and not my regular camera.  Don't ask, it's just a long story.  However, most of the shots I've taken and posted so far this year, I feel are quality shots, which is what I'm aiming for this year.

Every year I put together a calendar for my parents and my father-in-law.  My parent's calendar is easier from a photographic standpoint because my two sisters get two thirds of the calendar and I get the other third, so finding enough family photos for four months is pretty easy.  Finding family photos for an entire year is a little more difficult, especially when one person isn't highly represented. 

Because my wife works longer hours than I do, she's harder to get into photos, so I've made a concentrated effort to get her into more photos.  I've even started a series of photos entitled "Grow Old with Me."  Each of these so far have just featured her hands.  I'll probably include other shots in this series that feature more than just her hands, but for now, please enjoy these three from the series.  

My favorite singer, John Denver, wrote a song to his wife Annie.  I can't write music, but I can take photos.  This series is Marsha's Song.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


My wife's "personal shopper" bought her husband a very nice gift for Christmas this year.  In case you haven't been following along for most of these posts, my wife hates to shop.  With the exception of grocery shopping which she won't cede over to me, I do the shopping.  Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, etc., all become my domain.  It works for us.  

Every Christmas and my birthday, we go through the routine.  She asks me what her personal shopper is going to get her husband for Christmas, or his birthday.  Anyway, you get the drift.  I don't mind, as I don't like surprises and it makes it easier in the long run than having her go out and find something that she's not sure whether I'll like or not.

For years, I've been using the kit lens that came with my Sony Alpha.  It's a 28-200 zoom with a 3.8 to 5.6 ƒ-stop.  For those of you who know lens, you can tell it's not a very fast lens, in other words, it doesn't work very well under low light conditions.  The lens I got is a fixed focal lens of 50mm, with a 1.4 ƒ-stop.  It's fast.

After I came home with it, I put it on my camera and I've been testing it out.  It's going to take some time to get used to, that's for sure.  A couple of times, I've pulled the camera up to my face and immediately attempted to zoom in or out.  Nope, can't do that with this lens.  And it's been awhile since I've had a fixed lens on my camera, probably since I was in high school and I had an old Vivitar SLR with a Pentax screw mount lens.  

Zoom lenses make things easier for the average photographer.  You don't have to really think about composition that much, so you just adjust your lens.  With a fixed prime lens, you have to think about things like this, moving yourself within the environment to get the shot you want.  It's a learning curve, not steep, but I figure I'll end up being a better photographer in the process.

So far, I like the lens.  As noted above, it's fast, not just in low light, but it's also very fast with it's response to focus. I was taking shots of a train traveling by and firing off shots as fast as I could.  With the old lens, about 1 in three would be blurry and out of focus because the lens wouldn't respond.  None of the shots I took this week were blurry.

The lens is primarily used as a portrait type of lens.  I haven't used it for that yet unless you count a shot I took of our dog Jack today.  With just some side lighting from a couple of lamps I was able to get a good shot of him as he lay on the couch.  I'll not bore you with the technical stuff, but at least know I shot in ISO 100 with the camera set at ƒ1.4, the widest the lens would be to let the maximum amount of light into the camera.  Very little grain and a nice looking shot over all.

Maybe this will pave the way for me to get more stranger shots.  I've been avoiding those over the past couple of months mainly because I haven't been really pleased with the results I've been getting with my old lens.  Well, I don't have any excuses now.  Wish me luck.