Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ANZAC Day - Dragons v Roosters

To celebrate ANZAC Day, Sydney Football Stadium hosts a now 'traditional' match between St George Illawarra (Dragons) and Sydney Roosters.  The game is linked to the spirit of ANZAC Day, and remembrance of those lost to win our freedom.  I took my sons (and camera obviously) to the game this year in the hope of getting some pictures - as well as the hope of seeing our team win (alas it wasn't to be...)

Before the game started, the trophy was delivered in spectacular style by an Army Blackhawk helicopter landing in the middle of the stadium.

After the delivery was made, the helicopter hovered a few feet off the ground, rotated through a complete 360 degrees giving everyone in the stadium the chance to see the rather intimidating head-on view, dipped it's nose towards the dignitaries in the stand, and then shot straight up in the air at a rate that would have left my stomach behind I'm sure.

As the game started, I realised that it would be more prudent to pack the camera away, as there were some very 'enthusiastic' fans around me who were spilling more beer than they were drinking (and they drank plenty).  So no photos of the game, though I suspect that as the game was under lights rather than daylight, my lenses wouldn't have been fast enough anyway, without resorting to ISO 1600 ;-)  The next time I go to a game, I'll try and make it a daytime one.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First outing - skateboarding in the park

Although the operation and functions of the D3000 are very similar to the D40x that I've used for the last 9 months, it is strange how I suddenly feel thrown in at the deep end, and need to learn all over again.  It feels familiar, and yet alien at the same time.  I'm sure it won't last though.

So Thursday was the first time I actually managed to get out with the camera during my lunchbreak (despite having taken it to work with me every day this week).  On Thursday morning, I saw a lovely shiny (black) Ferrari parked on the other side of the road as I walked into work, and also passed a girl with her hair in braids who just looked stunning.  But I didn't have the guts to photograph either of them - I don't have a lot of self confidence.

But at lunchtime, I came across a couple of lads in St James park, doing jumps on their skateboards.  I took the plunge and wandered over to them.  I introduced myself, and asked if they'd mind if I took some pictures, and they were over the moon about it.  They introduced themselves to me as Pete and Bruno, and were then really enthusiastic to try and get some good pictures for me.

At first, we were all in the shade, but photographing out towards a sunlit backdrop of trees.  This gave me a few metering issues, and most of the pictures came out quite dark.  I then moved around so that I was photographing them against a backdrop that was also in the shade, which made things a little better (though the backdrop was a row of portaloos :( - perhaps I can do something about them using Photoshop later).

I still wasn't getting clear pictures, and then kicked myself... I had so shocked myself by approaching them in the first place, that I just wasn't thinking about what I was doing at all.

First things first - up the ISO... from 100 to 400, and then to 800 - made pictures a bit grainy, but at least now my shutter speed was quick enough to catch some of the action.  I also switched the camera to 'burst' mode or continuous shooting.  That allowed me to fire off 3 or 4 shots during a single jump, and later pick the best ones out.

The other thing I tried was some of the different focus modes and focus areas.  Constant refocusing was obviously essential, but the D3000 also has an 11-point focus system, that allows you to spot focus using a chosen point, and then if the subject moves to another spot in the array, the camera will track it...  It sounds like a lot of complex work that the camera is doing, but the end result was that most of my pictures were pretty well focused  on what I wanted.
and here's one of the resulting photos.

So what did I learn?
  1. I should have used a flash, and the shorter of the two lenses, and got in closer.
  2. The background is not important, so getting in close and using a wide aperture would help defocus it - using the longer of the 2 lenses 'flattens' perspective and made the background too cluttered.
  3. Finally, don't be such a wuss - if people don't want their photo taken, they'll say "no" when you ask.  I wish I'd asked that girl... her hair really was amazing...

My brand new D3000

I've been an enthusiastic photographer for about 35 years, but while our family have been growing up, my photography was basically of the snapshot variety.  Then my daughter bought herself a Nikon D40x, and asked me to teach her to use it, and this rekindled my passion for photography as an art.  I then got to use her camera for 9 months while she was living overseas, and this gave me the chance to really get hooked again.  I became quite glum at the prospect of having to give it back, and started entering competitions to try and win a camera of my own.  There was no way I could justify the expense of buying one, and I never won any of the competitions, so imagine my surprise and delight, when for my birthday, I found they had all clubbed together and bought me a Nikon D3000 with 18-55 and 55-200 lenses.  I was speechless, and couldn't avoid shedding a tear.

So, that was last weekend.  I took a couple of very shaky shots on the night, but hosting duty meant that much as I would have loved to spend all evening playing, I had to put it away and tend to my guests.  It was Thursday before I finally took it out for its first outing.

My intention with this blog, is to record my thoughts about photography, to talk about my outings with the camera, show a few of my photos, and perhaps even do a few 'how-to' articles on various subjects.

I am a member of the Digital Photography School forum community, and you can see some of my previous photos there, from both my daughter's D40x, and also my little Fuji FinePix F20 point and shoot (and obviously from my D3000 from this point on).

So, introductions over... let's get down to some actual photography.