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...

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