Vaishakhi Lahoti

Photography

Happy Birthday my SLR!

Happy Birthday my SLR!


I should have celebrated today. Its been exactly one year now that I got my SLR and its been one hell of a journey! From being an absolute novice who didnt know the diopter settings to somebody who has fun giving SLR tips to other newcomers, it’s been there with me through thick and thin. I must have taken atleast 15000 shots with it by now. And as the counter moves on what stays is the passion to do more with it.
Today I see things very differently, appreciate good cinematography, understand colours, lighting and many more things. What I know more is that I am still to learn so much. I often think of this becoming a serious hobby. now that I have some money to spare, I could always buy some additional accessories (I am already planning my next lens) and expand my craziness.
I think it atleast deserved me getting some mini muffins 😀
here goes my first and the latest pic till date IMG-0001

Flower Mania

Flower Mania

This I have to write about..
my latest fad- Flowers..
yeah yeah, I’ve been crazy about flowers forever but after the Gangtok trip I was hell bent on finding out the names of some of the flowers I’d photographed. It was irritating to see an awesome flower and not know what its called.
So…. lets bring flickr to the rescue. That place is a gold mine. Initially I left a few photos to be identified by others, and some good samaritans (this guy is the best ) left notes about the flower types. Some myths were dispelled and I put my little foot in to the vast field of botany.
OH MY GOD.. there are soooo many flowers.. and so few of them we know of and even when we see one we have no clue what they are called. Sure we probably know their local names, but this is different. In one week I know more about flowers than I have in all of my life. I wish I could post all of the names here, but I think I’ll find a better avenue, a e-scrap book for flowers 😉 yeah I am crazy. That’s for certain.

Modelling for a product

Modelling for a product

For no reason whatsoever, I decided that I had do a photo shoot this time with a little better lighting and with an agenda – Making an Ad for my watch.
What I realised is that as a model and as a photographer it’s damn hard to put something besides yourself on focus. Besides, a watch needs to be worn, putting the hand in the frame without making it look very odd, is a serious challenge.

Devious Journal Entry

Devious Journal Entry

After my headshot session I decided to try my hand at silhouettes. With limited equipment (no tripod yet and no decent lights) I had to make do with whatever in the house. and am learning that even though I can skip the tripod I still need to create some softboxes. For that I need to buy some lighting. DJ is in US (again) and am hoping to buy that sort of stuff right after he is back.
For this shoot, I had to try had have a very bright but uniform light behind me. I used our new floor lamp and covered it with a white cloth to make the light more diffused. Then shut off all the lights in the room to make sure this was the only light source.
The hard part is always setting up the camera and being able to operate it from afar. This is I think the biggest challenge for self portraits. Thankfully Canon shipped a very handy software along with the camera which allows remote shooting. All I do is plug the camera to my laptop, and then I can see what the camera sees. Still focussing is a BIIG issue since I need to do it manually using the laptop. Am waiting for when the camera will be able to do autofocus shots with remote shooting.

Dream come true

Yes I’ve done it. I’ve finally got my coveted SLR. I wonder how I did not write about it earlier. Oh well now is better than never.
So.. by the time I realised that I was going to make my 3rd trip to US this year,  I also decided to move over to a better camera. The last time I did a serious SLR hunt and ended up with three candidates but no winners. A year later things had changed a little. Nikon had released their D50 model with HD video capability. Considering HD was still a while away in India and I didnt see myself owning a HDTV in the near future either, D50 was relegated to second position. Then came the Olympus. There was now a E-501 model which didn’t seem to excite me much more than its predecessor E401. There was a new entry from Sony.. the A350K and for a while I did look very closely at this model. This was the company which had acquired Minolta and all their models. So would my old Minolta MD mount telephoto lens work on these models? If the answer would have been yes, then I guess I would have probably taken a sony without bothering much with anything else. But sadly the MD/MF mounts from Minolta were quite obsolete. The new ones were called AF mounts or something which were compatible with the sony models.
So it was left to Canon to rescue my day. Now I did not go in to the other major brands like Pentax simply for lack of support in India. I know that the only three brands which I can hope to have any support if I do get into any issues were Olympus, Nikon and Canon.
So coming back to Canon. To my pleasant surprise there were now two new models in their stable. the 450D (XSi) and the 1000D (XS). These were successors to the very famous 400D (XTi) and 900D(XT). Last time I could not pin down the XTi for lack of live view functionality. But the new models had these.
One of the other things I found on Ebay was an adaptor that would allow my Old Minolta lens to be used on a canon EOS. This made my life very easy. I had to only choose between the XSi and the Xs both of which were very very good models.
The next two months and DJ is witness to it, was spent on hours and hours of research on the net. I must have read every review, every comparison, every note about these models. and I was constantly tracking their prices in the US. Even till two weeks before the trip I was not sure which model I would end up taking.
That’s when I finding out the prices of the same models in India. XS was at 32K and XSi was at 47K. And strangely the price difference of the same models in US was around $100.
All things put together I realised it was a better idea to take the XS in india, I had no issues with the 10MP sensor nor some of the downgrades from XSi. What I liked that it was still a very powerful camera with a really great picture clarity.
Life on the other hand had other plans. Right about the time when I was to buy the camera in India, I fell really sick. and I mean so sick that I couldn’t even get up from bed. I wondered if I was even going to make it on the trip. I did manage to make the trip but it now meant that I would have to get my SLR from US
—– Why didn’t I just wait for a month to come back and take it from India? well.. then I would have lost out on all the lovely opportunities to take stunning pics in US.
27th Sep 2008 will be remembered for more than one reason. I finally got to buy my SLR that day. and since then, I’ve got atleast a 1000 good to average shots from 2000+ clicks. I loved every photo I took. And while I was there at Chicago, I also bought 50mm F1.8 lens. Together with the kit lens (18-55mm) they made a lovely pair.
Some of the things I realised I could do with this camera that I could never do with my old one
-go into continuous shooting mode… it takes less than a second to get started.. and you can keep going on and on and on. comes really handy when you have a baby around who refuses to look at the camera for more than an nanosecond.
-those low light shots. I’ve always hated the flash shots. Always wished for a way to get non-noisy shots with available light. And my 50mm let me do just that. Yeah.. at F1.8 the shots are little softer than I’d like, but I love the real life looking shots. And for a person with oily skin.. that’s like a boon from heaven. Look below to see what am talking about.
-Complete control- sometimes I let the camera decide what it needs to do to get a nice shot.. sometimes I want control everything and the fun part on the SLR is you can never get tired of it. I have not even explored 10% of the manual settings possible in this.
– Am learning so much. With the older camera, I thought I had learnt enough and now I feel like am starting off again. Learning something that I love so much.. learning with every shot I that I have to delete and start all over again
-taking a picture while previewing the shot from my computer. Its so cool to see what you are doing on your camera screen and remotely taking a picture.
-being able to crop to 1/3rd the original size and still ending up with more than 1600 size picture
-watching people look in awe when the see the results.
Some reasons why I’ll never give up my point and shoot camera either
– You cannot take a self shot without a mirror or tripod. With a little point and shoot, its just about taking it to an arms length turning it around and clicking.
– Cannot hand over an SLR to somebody on the road and ask them to take a pic. 9 out of 10 times they wont get it right. If they dont run away with your camera, then they’ll probably be jittery, look for the live preview rather than the view finder, and generally get lost in the process of taking the pic.
– the model I have is one of the lightest SLRs and its still 10 times heavier than the present day point and shoots. Its a big liability, needs careful handling too. My poor Canon A520 survived scratches, sand, water, bumps, nicks and still lives to this day. On the other hand I’d be heartbroken if something ever happened to my SLR.
In my three weeks of owning the SLR I’ve changed the way I look at pictures. I am not scared of the technical talk anymore, and the more I get to learn the more I fall in love with it.
<Flash vs Natural Light
-P.s the camera is still in US, will come back this sunday with DJ
-P.s.s the old minolta lens has fungus on it and will need to be cleaned 🙁