Archive for March, 2006

W00t! There’s water at the Greenbelt!

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

I went down to Scottish Woods Trail today; I haven’t been out there in, Idunno, too many months, but I don’t remember there being a lot of water there last time–it was kind of a foul-smelling puddle. Since I’d told Happie and Beth yesterday that there would be water there if there was water anywhere, I resolved to go out today and check it out myself.

There’s water there. Lots of water. This much water. It’s cool and it’s clear and it smells good, at least the pool above the lower dam. You can find me there every saturday afternoon from now until there’s water somewhere better. I might go some mornings too.

The pictures I got today are kind of so-so; Scottish woods looks a lot better in the morning, because the sky on the pretty(-er) side isn’t full of sun. There are some pictures of it in summer here. It looks a lot the same, except with flowers and leaves.


Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

I’m getting a good-sized chunk of money. Most of it is spoken for by my esteemed creditors, but between what’s left over and my semiannual bonus, I’ve got about $2700 of money. I’ve decided to spend it on a camera because, well, I want to really bad.

I work hard, I figure I deserve it.

Anyway, I’ve spent about every waking hour for the last couple of weeks obsessing about what to get. The problem is that there are so many choices. Not just of camera, but of lens. For the camera, I’ve decided I’m getting one of either:

  1. The Caonon EOS-20D. This is one of the nicest “prosumer” cameras out there, certainly the nicest near its $1100 street price.
  2. The Canon EOS-350D. This is kind of the EOS-20D’s little brother. It’s smaller, lighter, is made of plastic instead of magnesium, and has slightly fewer features, but is basically functionally very similar and has basically identical picture quality under almost any circumstances I’m likely to use it in. The only downside is that it’s not as sturdy, or quite as cool. It sells for about $700.

Of course, the camera is only half the story, if that. Once I’ve got a camera, I’ll need a lens to go with it, or it won’t be very good for taking pictures. More precisely, I’ll need two. I need a short lens and a long lens, because a lot of the work I do (in terms of picture-takin’) is nature and critter pics. That’s one of the things I really wish I had in my current camera, a really long lens.

For the short lens, there are basically two choices, the 18-55mm lens that costs about $50 when bought as a kit with either of the two cameras above. It’s a sort-of okay lens. The front element rotates when it focuses, which means that if I had a polarizer on it (which I generally do), then I’d have to adjust it for basically every shot. I really don’t like the though of that at all.

The other choice is the EF-S 17-85MM USM IS lens. This is a nice lens that doesn’t have the aforementioned problem, and which has a small gyroscope and motor that, to make a long story short, keeps camera shake from ruining your pictures, so you can hand-hold the camera in low light. This lens costs about $500, a little cheaper if bought in a kit with the 20D (it doesn’t come in a kit with the 350D).

So far, so good. That second lens is a little expensive, but not too bad.

The problem starts with the long lens. See, short lenses aren’t necessarily cheap, but they’re almost by definition cheaper than a long lens of the same quality. And if you want to take pictures of birds, say, for instance, the hummingbirds that are going to be around in a few months, then you need a long lens indeed. You need a lens like the Canon EF 100-400mm USM IS f4.5-f5.6L zoom lens, which is a nice lens that costs about $1400. If you want a nice blurry background to isolate your subject, you want a really fast long lens, which makes the aforementioned none-too-cheap lense look inexpensive. You could, for instance, get the Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM IS lens, which goes for about $1700; however, since 200mm is way smaller than 400mm, to take pictures of those birds, you’d need to throw down another $300 or so for a 2x teleconverter, making this somewhat nicer lens about $600 more expensive.

See, I want one of those lenses. I want the nicer lens, and I want the nicer camera, but if you add the nice short lens, the really nice long lens, and the nicer camera together, you get $2000+$500+$1100+tax+shipping+$200 in filters, which is considerably more than the $2700 I theoretically have to spend. Compromises will have to be made. Something will have to be deferred until a later time. Something may never get bought.

So, what’s my best strategy for maximizing what I can get for my money? This is the question that I’ve been pondering all the time lately. Maybe it’s because I don’t really have anything better to do with my life. Maybe it’s because my favorite spacetime for the taking of pictures is coming up soon and I don’t want to mess up the chance to document the beauty I see around me every spring. I want to convey to others the feeling I get when I’m sitting in paradise a few miles from my house, drinking beer and lounging in the water and listening to the birds sing. I want the tools to do that. Maybe it’s just because I’m a gearhead.

My current thinking is cheaper camers (350D), cheaper short lens (18-55), less expensive long lens (100-400), and polarizing and UV filters for both, along with an extra battery and a big CF card to store all the pictures on. That’s $775+$1400+the rest. I should probably stop thinking about it now. Except….damn.

Neighborhood pictures

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Note: My brother and I and hopefully/probably some other people are going to go see Dave Chappelle’s Block Party tomorrow night at 7:40pm at the Alamo South. If I haven’t already invited you personally, and you wanna go, then you prolly should get a ticket in advance.

Okay, so, just to spite me, my E-10 seems to be working okay again. Yay E-10!

I took advantage of some good light this afternoon to wander around my back yard and neighborhood and take a bunch of pictures of my usual favorites: flowers, bees, and cats. I also took a lot of pictures of fences today, don’t know why, and a bunch of pictures of ivy.

They’re in this gallery.

One of the ivy pics, this one:

I decided would look better in black and white, with the background leaves burned darker and a small tear in one leaf fixed. This was a bit harder than I’d figured, but came out pretty good:

Other than that one, they’re mostly just wallpaper, but some of them are kind of pretty wallpaper. If you like my cats you might wanna check ‘em out.

I hope I’m not turning into that lady that always works in accounting that has pictures of her goddamned pets all over her cube because she doesn’t have a picture of a person to put there.

Not likely though–I’ve got more pictures of bees than my cats. Probably also of random zoo monkeys. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement. Plus, hardly anybody turns into a lady if they didn’t start out as one.

I think I might go see a movie. I was going to go see Ultra Violet, but I can’t find any reviews. Usually that means that the studio didn’t screen it for reviewers, which usually means it sucks more ass than a Hoover with a wet-dry enema attachment.