Rebel without a Cause

This little guy led the high school band like he was ready to graduate.

This little guy led the high school band like he was ready to graduate.

Since the Starlight parade was held after dark, I was hesitant to take my old 40D as my second camera.  The 40D doesn’t do well at higher ISO settings.  Fortunately, my husband was willing to share his new Rebel T4i, which has better ISO performance and higher resolution than my out-dated 40D.

I don't think anything could distract this cheerleader.

I don’t think anything could distract this cheerleader.

I had to think long and hard as to whether I wanted to put my wide angle lens on my 5D Mark III or on the Rebel.  The last parade I shot, I put my wide angle on my 5D and my telephoto on my 40D.  This seemed logical since the 5D is full frame and the 40D is a cropped sensor.  If you want to go wide, go wide.  If you want to go tight, go tight, right?

This little girl watched intently throughout the parade.

This little girl watched intently throughout the parade.

But, when I was shooting the parade, I found my 24-70mm lens on my 5D was often too wide and my 70-200mm lens on my 40D was too tight.  Plus, when I shot the subject loosely so I could crop to the framing I wanted, I was cropping a lower-resolution image from the 40D.  As a result, I concluded I should have reversed the use of the cameras so that I would have had the higher resolution for the photos I was doing the most cropping on and a wider field of view on both.

This young woman gave quite a show twirling her baton and tossing it well into the dark.

This young woman gave quite a show twirling her baton and tossing it well into the dark.

But introducing the Rebel T4i into the mix was a new problem.  It’s lighter to hand hold than the 5D, but not well balanced with the 70-200mm lens, which out-weighs the Rebel by 2 pounds.  This makes holding it somewhat precarious.  However, by holding it by the foot on the lens, I felt a little more confident I wasn’t going to drop it.

This was the youngest twirler performing big tricks--I guess that's how she got the sash.

This was the youngest twirler performing big tricks–I guess that’s how she got the sash.

In the end, I decided to go with the same plan as for the previous parade:  cropped sensor with telephoto and full frame with the wide angle.  The decision was made easier when I realized I didn’t have a bracket for the T4i to attach it to my tripod.

It does look really stupid to walk around with a T4i with a 70-200mm lens on it.  I instinctively held my hand over the T4i when I spotted another photography coming my direction.

Grainy close up of some of the girls on the tiny tots twirlers float I mentioned yesterday.

Grainy close up of some of the girls on the tiny tots twirlers float I mentioned yesterday.

That said, other than the flip out touch screen on the T4i, which I found annoying, and the imbalance with the lens, I really liked the tiny Rebel.  The shutter was quiet and handled rapid fire shots faster than the 5D (probably because of the slightly lower resolution).

The flip out touchscreen will be handy for shooting video and does make viewing images in bright light easier.  I just don’t like to put the camera up to my face with the flip screen open and then get annoyed when I have to open it again immediately following a shot to check an image.  In the end, I was pleased with the images, although they were a bit noisier than I was expecting.

This little guy was very energetic throughout the parade.

This little guy was very energetic throughout the parade.

Walkin’ in the Moonlight

At the end of the day, I find myself with no new photos, nothing to write about, and a dog that needs to go for a walk.

I decide it’s been too long since I shot down at the riverfront at night.  I have shot the riverfront from the roof and balcony many times, but I can’t remember the last time I actually carried my camera down to the river after dark.

Having gone small yesterday, it seemed reasonable that today I would go wide, so I put my 16-35mm lens on my camera, grabbed my loupe and tripod, and talked my husband into coming with me and bringing the dog.

Walking Renaissance Park at night is always an interesting experience.  The meadow voles who live on the hillside at the park entrance seem to be mostly daytime critters–no rustles are heard in the leaves as we walk by, unlike earlier in the day when something scurried away every few steps.  Ironically, if they would hold still, we would never know they were there.

But as we head down the walkway past the wetland, leaves crunch loudly in the woods to our right.  A little too loudly.  We glance at each other and then peer into the darkness of the woods wondering what might be lurking there big enough to make that much noise.  I remind myself how loud even a mouse can be in fall leaves and we keep moving without any boogie men jumping out at us.

I pause to shoot the reflected trees in the wetland water.  It’s not the most stunning reflection, but I like the bright trees at the top of the hill and the dark sky streaked with clouds.

Tisen drops Snake (one of his newest family members), leaving the red and green toy (doesn’t every family have a Christmas snake?) laying in the shadows along the sidewalk while he investigates a smell.  Whoever was here before him left behind an interesting story–I finish shooting long before he’s done sniffing.

The night is cool, but I am warm enough with a sweater and light jacket.  The frogs and cicadas have disappeared and the only noises we hear besides the occasional rustle of leaves is the voices of other couples walking in the moonlight.

I think how romantic this walk might be if I weren’t carrying a tripod and stopping to shoot for long intervals.  My husband patiently keeps Tisen entertained while I shoot.  Maybe that’s it’s own kind of romance?

As we work our way around the same path we have walked hundreds of times in the past 15 months, I look at the scene anew.  Shooting causes an interesting shift in perspective–I look at the moon, the clouds, the lights, the converging lines, and the sculptures from different angles and look for new ways to combine them in my frame.

I realize the same old scene is actually never the same twice.

Balcony Shooting

On weekends like this one, I’m grateful I have a view from the balcony. Although I’m a bit overloaded on shots like these, having been the sickest I’ve been in a lot of years all weekend, I don’t know what I would have had to post today had it not been for this wonderful view.

Granted, I found myself really wanting to move the building across the street (or at least run up to the roof to shoot over it).  But, since I was barely standing up straight and the sun was setting quickly, it seemed improbable that I would make it up to the roof in time.  And, since I am not embodied with any superpowers that might allow me to move a building even on the best of days, there wasn’t much point in contemplating that possibility.

One effect of shooting from the balcony with the building across the street in the foreground is the extreme distortion that occurs, making the building seem like it’s bending towards the center of the frame.  This is a consequence of using a very wide angle lens and being so close to the building.

I used the-built-in level to make sure I was shooting straight (I do try to be a straight shooter), but the distortion was so great that I ended up changing the angle slightly in post-processing to try to make it look a little straighter.

These are also processed using HDR. Each image is actually a combination of 5 images with 5 slightly different exposures.  This allows me to get some of the detail in the buildings in the foreground at the same time I have the detail in the bright parts of the sky.  I’m starting to like HDR for these kinds of images the more I get used to it.

Tisen, it turns out, is a great companion for someone who is sick.  He was quite content to cuddle on the couch with me for endless hours.  He likes the down comforter and the animal print pillow almost as much as he likes me.  On the rare occasions when I made it off the couch, he would just lie there like he was in heaven.  Unfortunately, I was only able to get a blurry shot of him.  I’d blame it on being sick–couldn’t hold the camera steady–but I think most of my iPhone images of Tisen are blurry, too.

If I were guessing, I would say that Tisen feels needed.  He makes a great heating pad and seems to know just where to cuddle up against me to make me feel better.  I had no idea when I brought him home that he would some day be a nurse.  If he could take himself out for walks and feed himself, too, he would be perfect at it.

Tilt

One of the things we enjoy about Chattanooga is the surrounding mountains.  They may be smaller, rounder and greener than, say, the Rockies, but they introduce a lovely, rolling feel to the area that only ancient mountains can create.  They also make for a lot of nice views.

Point Park offers spectacular views in three directions.  Lookout Mountain Hang gliding gives you a completely unimpeded view if you’re willing to run off a mountain or be towed up in a hang glider.  And then there is Rock City, famous for its view of 7 states.

Rumor has it that you can, in fact, see 7 states from the overlook at Rock City.  However, it requires a scope and an extremely clear day with no haze.

I find myself wondering how one knows when one is peering into a new state?  Is the state line superimposed on the landscape like a giant yellow line showing the next down in an American football game?

Having gone to Rock City to take pictures of the birds performing in S.O.A.R.’s bird program, I figured I might as well check out the view.  I even brought my wide angle lens and a tripod so I could capture that fantastic view.

Given my timing was around the bird programs and not around the sun, I, of course, ended up on the overlook at precisely noon.  I decided to wait until after the second show to try to get any pictures, thinking maybe 2PM would be better than noon.

When 2PM came, I headed back to the overlook feeling rushed because Pat was picking me up and wanted to get back to work as quickly as possible.

Instead of setting up my tripod, I hand held and took advantage of the bright sun with fast shutter speeds.  I would have loved a polarizer, but this lens is too big for my polarizer.  Another item for the wish list.

On my way to the overlook, I see a manmade waterfall cascading from underneath the walking path.  There is a bridge that spans the space in front of the waterfall that would probably make a great spot to shoot from.  However, I have my limits.  I may be willing to launch myself off a mountain in a glider, but I’m not about to walk on some skinny little bridge that spans a 1000 foot drop.  Not even for a better angle on the waterfall.

Instead, I grab a couple of shots that give me a headache to look at.

One of the consequences of the rolling mountains in this part of the country is that I can never decide where level is.  90% of my landscape shots have to be straightened in post production because they were shot at an angle.  At least, I think it’s due to the terrain.  I once learned that when I thought I was holding my head straight, I was actually holding it at a tilt.  Seems to have spread to my camera.

Decisions, Decisions

There are things I just buy.  I say “I want that” and I spend the money and feel giddy with indulgence.  Then, there are things that exceed my “just buy it” threshold and I torment myself for months trying to decide what to do.

I’ve been putting off making a decision for months now.  I do a lot of landscape photography whether that’s what I intend or not and I’m running up against the limits of my wide angle lens on my small-sensor (APS) camera.

At the same time, my current camera needs its sensor cleaned badly.  I have found one place to take my camera to have the sensor cleaned, but it will take two days.  So, I will try to do enough shooting this weekend to get me through until I get my camera back.

This is another argument for why my next purchase should be a full-frame camera instead of a super wide-angle lens for my current one–if I had a second camera, it wouldn’t be so bad to have my camera in the shop for a couple of days–a serious consideration now that my camera is several years old.

And this brings us to the crux of my debate:  an extra-wide angle lens for my current camera or a full-frame camera.  It’s a tough call.  The extra-wide angle lens will only work with small-sensor cameras, which means if I buy it and then decide to go full-frame later, it won’t work on my new camera.

It comes down to either potentially throwing away a smaller amount of money to get the wide angle I want or making a larger, long-term investment that will give me a second camera body.  The smaller sensor has the advantage that it gives an equivalent angle of view to the focal length times 1.6.  However, I’m a little confused about why this is better.  It seems like the subject is the same size in the image, but there’s less stuff around it.   In essence, the same image could be achieved in the full frame simply by cropping the photo.

In any case, after getting through an online class session on APS vs Full Frame sensors, I’m leaning towards getting a full frame camera to compliment my APS camera.  That said, I’m still not ready to spend that kind of money.  I will have to work around being camera-less for a couple of days while my sensor is being cleaned.  I wonder if Tisen will notice?

My photos today consist of part II of my “Going Vertical” experiment.  This group is from right along the river.  I really like the traditionally processed color photo of the bridge, sky, and grass.  I like the black and whites, too.  Still not sold on some of the more obvious HDR processing.

The video is a “time lapse” shoot of Tisen on the couch.  However, something went wrong in the conversion and it bounces around quite a bit.  I hope you aren’t prone to motion sickness!