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Weekend - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Weekend
Went to fanf's birthday party yesterday. The weather was just perfect for a barbecue (where was all this sunshine in June/July/August, eh?); my STEAK was a bit on the chewy side but the salmon in Laphroaig worked fairly well. Could have done with more whisky though. Strawberries and cream went down well, as always, but the real hit was fanf's mum's garlic mushrooms. Mmmmmm.

It was lovely to see existing friends and make new ones. And very flattering to acquire a one-man fan-club for the evening, but since I only want him for his pinball machine (he has a Star Trek TNG pinball table in his room!) I didn't think it was fair to lead him on too much. It's fun to flirt sometimes, and K. is a lovely chap, but I don't have anything more than flirting available to give at the moment.

Today I didn't wake up till late; decided it would be a shame to waste the nicest weekend of the year, so sion_a went to wander round Cambridge with the intention of Seeing Interesting Stuff and incidentally teaching me to use my SLR camera. Before embarking on our expedition, we went for a very nice lunch at the Pickerel -- I had the biggest Caesar salad I've ever seen in my life (which I couldn't finish), and sion_a had a tasty-looking spicy beanburger.

And then, we wandered. Thankfully not past too many shops (though I did wander into Oxfam and accidentally bought some shoes and the video of High Fidelity) -- down to the river, and along the river, and then back up and round and at that point I lost track of where we were as I was just following sion_a. In the course of our wandering we took in Ridley Hall and Robinson College, as well as the surprisingly interesting architecture of the Sidgwick site.

It was strange walking along the deserted back streets, and campus-like university site, having the time and space to stop and stare at odd bits of buildings, or interesting effects of light and space, without odd looks from tourists and inhabitants alike. Everything was so deathly silent that at times it felt as though we were wandering around a long-forgotten city of the ancients, searching for clues to the people who once inhabited it. Without people around it's possible to abandon all sense of scale; the pattern of leaves against a low wall can acquire as much interest and importance as a towering building. The air felt heavy with sunlight and dust.

I didn't actually take many photos with the SLR (though I took a few with the digicam, which I may put up here at some point) as the battery for the light-meter wasn't working. Took one or two, though; it's all so complicated, but hopefully I'll get the hang of it one day. I will have to develop a steadier hand, though, or get a tripod.

Came home hot and tired.

I feel as though I am taking photographs of everything from a very long way away.

Current Mood: distant

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Comments
arnhem From: arnhem Date: September 5th, 2004 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
"deserted back streets" &c

5 am is good for this as well.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 5th, 2004 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Not as lovely and sunny though! I think that was what made it so odd: the desertedness (particularly after the tourist-packed streets of the town centre) combined with the glorious sunshine.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: September 6th, 2004 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel as though I am taking photographs of everything from a very long way away

What focal length lens does it have? Or was that a metaphysical statement?
50mm is equivalent to the human eye, apparently. Shorter gives wider view with exagerated pespective, longer gives narrower view with compressed perspective.
105mm is popular for portraiture.

it's all so complicated
Doesn't have to be, at least at first.
Does it have a full auto mode? Just use that until you're practised at framing.
Does it have shutter priority? I tend to use this for moving subjects (set it to 1/250th or faster) or dodgy light (set to the slowest with which I think I can avoid shake) and let the lens take care of the aperture.
Does it have aperture priority? This is good when you want to control depth of field - wide open, short depth; closed down, great depth.
Full manual is for when you get into all the twiddling. No need to go there for a while.
Of course it'll help to get the lightmeter battery sorted...
My SLR doesn't in theory have aperture priority but I can set the lens aperture manually then the camera's auto mode sorts out a suitable shutter speed.
Remember that print film has great exposure latitude, so don't let the meter frighten you - you can get away with about 3 stops either way. Makes ASA200 usable almost everywhere.
What you take and how you frame it matters more than almost anything at least at beginner level, though.
And film&processing in this country is very cheap compared with elsewhere (or was, the rise of digital may change that, as the rise of colour has led to mono now being very expensive), so just snap away and be prepared to dump 80% of your shots and only really like 5%.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 6th, 2004 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Or was that a metaphysical statement?

Yes.

Can't remember what focal length it has. sion_a will know.

Does it have a full auto mode?

Not sure what you mean. Suspect not. It doesn't really do anything automatically.

Does it have shutter priority?
Does it have aperture priority?

No idea. Haven't a clue what these mean.

(I don't understand most of the stuff in your comment, to be honest. Until yesterday I had no idea how a camera worked at all, i.e. no idea beyond "you press a button and it takes a photo".)
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: September 6th, 2004 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
The interposition of a viewing screen between oneself and the world does have an effect, oh yes. But that ain't what you meant.

Modes...
Yer ancient bog-standard SLR, you had to set the shutter speed and the aperture yerself. That's full manual. If that's all you have, easiest way to get going is to set a speed you know you won't get shake at, and use the aperture the meter advises for it. Unless you want a faster speed, eg for moving stuff or if it's a bit bright and the lens won't stop down enough.

Shutter priority is where you tell it the speed and it decides a suitable aperture for you. Assumes you have a lens the camera can mess with itself. Sometimes you need to lock the speed coz the meter may disagree with you and try to override what you set.

Aperture priority is where you set the aperture, and the camera picks a suitable shutter speed. I simulate this by putting the camera on full auto but setting the lens manually.

Full auto is the no-brain-required option. The camera decides everything except what to point at.

What camera is it?
If you get into this, can I sell you my Canon T70 kit at an outrageous price so I can go digital?
sion_a From: sion_a Date: September 6th, 2004 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
focal length

It's something weird like 53mm. The wide-angle is a much more normal 28mm IIRC.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: September 6th, 2004 05:55 am (UTC) (Link)
My camera came with a 28-70 zoom, and I find it gets used at 70 about 80% of the time. I got a 70-210 zoom coz the run-off areas at racetracks mean you need at least 150 to get a car to come anywhere near filling the frame.
The x2 converter hasn't seen a lot of use, but I had some fun with the macro tubes at one stage. And the fast 50mm lens is good, I should use it more.
k425 From: k425 Date: September 6th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I used to use my parents' old SLR. Fully manual, so I had to do everything. I have no idea about focal length or aperture or shutter speed, I just used to fiddle with the lens until the picture was in focus and then press the button.

I got some bloody good photos after I'd been using it for a short while, but it was all "seat of the pants" stuff, all instinct. I still have no idea how to take a photo...

If it's an automatic camera you might do better turning off all the options till you've got the hang of it. If it's manual already just go out and take lots of pics!
imc From: imc Date: September 7th, 2004 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
my parents' old SLR

I have an SLR which I personally bought from Argos in the early 1980s (together with a 28mm wide-angle lens, a 70-200 zoom and a doubler). I haven't used it for about four years, although not long before the 1999 eclipse I bought a mirrored 500mm lens that was on offer [the mirrors mean it's not actually 500mm long, fortunately, but it's rather harder to focus and has a higher f-value] - but of course Falmouth was under blanket cloud cover on the day and all I've got to show for it is a picture of some higly magnified clouds which is so dark they didn't bother framing the slide (and they also didn't frame my pictures of the night sky with clearly visible stars on them).

It is, of course, entirely manual - though it does have a built-in light meter which can tell you when the settings are about right. It was made at Carl Zeiss Jena, I believe.

In the last few years, though, I seem to have gone entirely digital. The media is cheaper, and you don't have to remember to send your film off for processing.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 7th, 2004 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
The media is cheaper

Are! The media are cheaper! Or, of course, the medium is cheaper. Fewer guacamole. HTH HAND HORSE ETC. </ox.*>

I bought this SLR for 20 quid second-hand. And films aren't that much more expensive (at Jessops you get a free one when you get one developed) than shelling out for 4xAA batteries every month or so for the digicam...
imc From: imc Date: September 7th, 2004 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I probably meant "the medium is cheaper", though I'm prepared to defend the use of "media" as a singlular noun in this day and age (the OED has a couple of examples of its use). Compare and contrast: "Media studies is a popular degree course" (though doubtless you'll argue that Media Studies is in some sense a proper noun).

shelling out for 4xAA batteries every month or so

NiMH rechargeables are your friend (though we managed to lose ours for a couple of weeks). Still, I think six quid buys you 6-8 batteries but only one 36-exposure film (including processing) so unless your camera eats batteries for breakfast I think the batteries are still cheaper. Unless you then take your digital pix to Boots to get printed out, in which case it's about 10p each provided you order 50 at once. At least that way you have the opportunity to select which photos to spend your money on instead of paying up front for an envelope of blurred under-exposed photos of people without their heads.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 7th, 2004 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
doubtless you'll argue that Media Studies is in some sense a proper noun

Naturally. You wouldn't say "studies is" in any other context, would you? (Unless 'studies' is quoted.)

I think six quid buys you 6-8 batteries but only one 36-exposure film (including processing)

The film is free with the processing. Not sure how much the processing costs... sion_a? Is it as much as 6 quid at Jessops? It's not usually elsewhere, so long as you're prepared to wait a week (and I usually am).

At least that way you have the opportunity to select which photos to spend your money on instead of paying up front for an envelope of blurred under-exposed photos of people without their heads.

The flip side of this, of course, is that you have much less incentive to actually learn to take anything better than under-exposed photos of people without their heads.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: September 8th, 2004 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Processing at Jessops is around a fiver for a 36 shot roll, with free film.
If you get arty and go mono, it'll cost you quite a bit more.
Don't try slides until you can get exposures right more than 85% of the time, coz slide film doesn't have the amazing 3-stops-either-way latitude of modern colour print film. The results are theoretically better, but you need a projector... too much hassle all round, really.

NB There used to be chains that processed in Kodak chemistry and chains that processed in non-Kodak chemistry, and it wasn't wise to take a non-Kodak film to a Kodak processor or vice-versa. You often got colour casts. Even though in theory they're all using the same basic chemicals to do it all. Jessops are as good as anybody, so just stick with them, is my advice.
imc From: imc Date: September 8th, 2004 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always used slides, as it happens (except I think I have one or possibly two ancient envelopes of prints - not sure why) which is how come I don't know how much it costs to get prints developed and forgot that you get a free film when you do. :-)

I do have ones that came out too dark - they are OK seen through a projector but I had a devil of a time trying to scan them. (It eventually turned out that pointing my digital camera through a hand-viewer stood on a light-box gave better results.)
imc From: imc Date: September 8th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
The flip side of this, of course, is that you have much less incentive to actually learn to take anything better than under-exposed photos of people without their heads.

Depends on how much pride you have in your work. If you're the sort of person who doesn't care ("and besides, it didn't cost anything") then that may be true; on the other hand, if you can see the results instantly then you'll be less likely to make the same mistake 36 times before getting the film developed and then saying "oh well, they didn't turn out".

The ability to take more photos almost cost-free surely means you'll get more practice, rather than that you won't care at all what the results look like.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: September 6th, 2004 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you know the model? I used to do a lot of photography when in my late teens/early twenties (had an OM-1, fact fans!)

You have to play tricks with the size of the hole that lets light in (aperture) and how long you leave that hole open for (shutter speed) in order to ensure that you get the right amount of light falling on the film, for the film 'speed' (or sensitivity) that you had. Maximizing one over the other has advantages and disadvantages. If you want to capture fleeting motion, without blurring, you need a quick shutter speed, but this means that the hole has to be bigger. The problem is, if the hole is bigger, the optics of the lens will mean that the focus in the picture has less depth - if you think of the picture as a line stretching away from you, you focus the lens so that a point on that line is sharp, and points before or after that line are blurry. With a small aperture, that 'point in focus' has greater depth, but a larger arpeture means that it is increasingly shallow.

There are other things that affect 'focal depth' for want of a better phrase, but save that for another time.

You also have to take the ambient light in a scene into account. It is hard to do very quick shutter speeds in low light without a flash because of all the different parameters you have to weigh up, for example. Sports photography (which I used to really enjoy) (cos my boyf. at the time was captain of the basketball team, natch) needs very quick shutter speed, and therefore you have to be quick to get the action you want in focus. Low light pictures are better done of still subjects because, if your depth of focus is going to be enough to get the whole of the object in focus, you are going to need a slow shutter speed.

Automatic cameras will automatically set one if you decide to set the other. AIR big flashy cameras could allow you to prioritize your choice of shutter speed, automatically setting the aperture to allow in the right amount of light, or prioritize your choice of aperture, automatically setting the shutter speed. If you are dealing with moving objects, choose to prioritize shutter speed, and set it as high as you can without the camera having a fit. If you are doing still lives and nature photographs (which I think you were last Sunday), choose to prioritize aperture, increasing depth of focus as much as you can.

These are not set in stone options, but will probably do to start while you are experimenting.
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