Beginning Photography

The musings of a budding photographer

Archive for October 2009


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A silver lining in the cloud that was my camera breaking. I have been a member of the talkphotography forums for a couple of weeks and started a thread detailing my camera woes when they were discovered. I had hoped that someone might have a fix.

No fix was forthcoming, but as I am a noob to photography it was agreed by myself and others on the boards that I wasn’t in the best position to judge if the problem was lens or body related. The solution, test a different lens. Of course I have no spare lenses so this didn’t seem to be an option. That is until another member discovered that she lives only 15 minutes from my house.

At 11pm at night she sent me her phone number with an offer to help. I met up with her at 11:30 where we tested a different lens and determined that the problem lay with the camera body. This act of kindness was huge enough, but the amazing part was still to come. Knowing that I was attending a wedding the following day this lady just gave me a camera to use! A canon 300D, which I can keep until my own camera is back in working order. She practically forced me to take it.

I am shocked and stunned, she wins the award for the most trusting and kind person I have met. I have been a forum member for only 2 weeks, she has no clue who I am, and yet I now have 150 quids worth of her camera. A nice bottle of wine will accompany the camera when it is returned.

As for the wedding, of around 250 snaps I have maybe 6 that I deem to be good photos. This was a HUGE learning experience for me, I will be so much better next time. The event will be documented in later posts, along with an upload of a few of the pics that did make the grade. I may yet save some in lightroom, we shall see.


Written by James

October 31, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Personal

A disaster

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I got the camera and it is dead on arrival, the auto focus is broken meaning my only option is to focus manually. That isn’t even remotely workable so I now have a choice. I can either send the camera back for a full refund or I can send it off to a canon service center for repair.

My decision is going to be determined primarily by postage. If canon or digital river (the canon seller on ebay) will pay the postage to have the item repaired I will get it repaired under warranty. If I have to pay for postage myself then I will send the camera back for a refund, a subsequent purchase then being neccessary.

Written by James

October 31, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Equipment, Photography

The journey so far

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Before I even get hold of the camera I have done much reading around. There are so many resources on the internet to help the budding photographer and I didn’t let the minor details of not owning a camera hinder me.

There are a couple of forums that I have been frequenting but not posting in: the Talk Photography Forums and the ShutterStock forums. The two serve different purposes. Stock photography (something I never knew of until a few weeks ago) consists of uploading images that can help to sell an idea or concept to an agency. Clients of the agency then download the images, and you receive a fee. The fees are small but can mount up if you have lots of images being downloaded directly. Now, I first stumbled accross stock photography when I was contemplating if I could make money myself. I no longer have any illusions on that score, but I still visit that board. The reason is the quality and critique. The photos that are accepted are generally not arty (though they can be) but they are technically excellent. Photos are often put up in the forums and receive technical critique from successful stock photographers.

This serves a great purpose. By reading feedback on countless images taken by stock photographers you start to get an appreciation for what good technical photography is all about. Composition of shots, framing, focus, depth of field and so on. Anything less than excellent gets rejected.

The talk photography forums are far more relaxed. Subject matter is more key, interesting images rather than those that can be used to sell a concept, with no fear about displaying logos or breaching trademark. These are people who take photos because they like doing it.

Reading these two boards has given me a head start when I get hold of the camera. I now know exactly what I need to learn, rather than getting hold of the camera and then wondering what to do beyond point and shoot. My goal in the first week of practice is going to be to master focus. I want to be able to achieve perfect focus or near as makes no difference without effort for moving and stationary, near and far subjects, with varying depths of field. How to do that, well, I’m going to take more photos than you can shake a stick at.

Written by James

October 27, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Photography

Buying a Camera

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So I’d decided to buy a camera, but I didn’t have the first clue what to get. To figure out where to head I had to consider what my restrictions were. Clearly I needed a D-SLR. Secondly, I need to keep things pretty cheap. My first thought was to look for a second hand camera on ebay, the model that jumped out was the Canon 350D for around 200 quid. The second option was a second hand camera from a friend of a friend. Third of course was to buy a new camera.

Each had positives and negatives. A new camera is up to date, full warranty, no worries, but you pay for that security. A camera from an ebay user is the cheapest, but there is an element of risk and you get an out of date model. A camera from a friend of a friend takes a middle ground, but there is still the worry of usage.

Then I found a fourth option. It turns out that canon sell off refurbished equipment with substantial reductions. You pay what you would for normal second hand gear, but you get a full 1 year warranty. This is the option I took, for £275 I got the Canon 400D refurbished by Canon. The warranty is the key for me, if anything goes wrong I have peace of mind. Canon sell all their refurbished gear via ebay, a user called canon_uk1. The camera arrived today but sadly I am not at home and a family member took delivery. I won’t get hold of it until Thursday.

Written by James

October 27, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Equipment, Photography

Why Photography

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It started out as a fascination with the sky at night. I have always loved images from the hubble, galaxies and nebula that are effectively time machines, looking back millions of years. At some point I stumbled accross an image taken by a guy with a simple camera and a tripod, a long exposure of the night sky, and I was blown away. If done properly you can see our galaxy, or at the very least the arm of the spiral in which we reside. Right there and then I wanted a camera to do the same. Of course, that would keep me entertained for a few nights and then I would pack it away never to be seen, so I put the idea on the back burner.

But then I got a new influence. A mate of mine had been interested in photography for some time and started to show me his work. I was pretty suprised, there was some really good stuff there. Over the course of the past year he has continued to link me to his exposures and they have gotten better and better. The stuff he was capturing got me thinking about taking it up myself.

Then I had another thought. I wonder if there is any money to be made. Well, it turns out there is, but not a lot unless you are very good. I looked at lots of options, stock photos, setting up on ebay and the like. It dawned on me that it takes a lot of work to make money that way, however in the search I found loads of cool photos. So now a bit of a kernel of interest was forming, the next step was to start to learn a bit.

First step, the library. I figured I needed to get a basic understanding of terms and find out what is involved in a good image. I read a book called “Understanding Exposure” and would reccomend it to anyone starting out in photography. It introduces you to the big three: shutter speed, aperture and ISO in a way that is easy to understand to the rank amateur.

And so, a year after my first interest and a month after I really started looking into it, I decided to invest in a camera. The big question now, what to buy?

Written by James

October 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Personal

Starting Out

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The first post in the blog, so I better introduce things properly. I’m a 27 year old self employed chappie from Barnsley.  I’ve been contemplating learning photography as a hobby for most of the past year and in the last couple of weeks finally did something about it. I have ordered myself a digital SLR camera, a Canon 400D, and am currently waiting for it to arrive.

Until a few weeks ago I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I now know almost nothing, just a few basics, and I have no experience. So, why blog on photography? Well, this blog will follow my learning curve. Each post will be a bit of a snapshot into my levels of knowledge at the time. Undoubtedly I will get things wrong as any newcomer to any field would think.

The next couple of posts will concern my journey so far, up until I get hold of the camera. Then things should take off in a more lively direction.

Lets see where this thing goes.

Written by James

October 24, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Personal