niina.amniisia » bits, pieces and photos from sydney, australia and elsewhere

take me to the dark (Tuesday October 31st, 2006 - 22:24)

category: photography

Yesterday afternoon I finally managed to get my hands on the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens I’ve been hunting around for, so when I got home I kept the blinds drawn and shot everything around me. Pretty impressive I thought, but what about a gig?

There’s never a huge selection of gigs in Sydney on Monday nights but I saw the listings for the Hopetoun‘s Incentive Night, took a look at a few of the band myspace pages and found the strange pictures for Bingo Steve & the Magic Markers – perfect!

At the Hoey I snapped away at each of the bands. I tried out various settings, enjoyed the odd-matching sound of each of the bands, but mainly I just snapped.

Looking back at the results I’m feeling rather chuffed. The results were still rather red (thus most have been converted to black and white) but being able to get sharp shots means that once I get a bit more practice I’ll start looking at white balancing the camera at gigs that don’t have a pretty light show. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t be worth the effort. I switched over to manual focus a few times because the auto-focus wasn’t landing where I wanted it to land, and I’m still not used to the additional focus points of the 400d but they’re helpful when they do manage to light up.

bingo steve & the magic markers

The ability to focus on the useful parts of the pictures and the quality varies through-out the shots but for a first attempt with a new lens and one week old camera I think I did okay.

weather underground bingo steve & the magic markers sol levy beau monde

ps. I’ve set myself up at flickr.

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getting focused again (Monday October 23rd, 2006 - 21:55)

category: photography

I persevered for a month with my darling 300d’s broken auto-focus before I did my research (aka. “Price check!”) and headed to Ted’s on Saturday afternoon to haggle myself a good deal on a pretty little black Canon 400d. Some initial thoughts..

The 400d is smaller than the 300d and feels significantly lighter (although the specs say there is only a 50g difference!) – maybe it’s the weight distribution or just the thrill of a new baby in my hands.

The larger LCD screen has me fearing all sharp things due to the accident that my 300d suffered early last year. I eyed a photographer at the Red Riders in-store who seemed to have some kind of hard plastic cover over his camera’s LCD screen so there’s a little gadget I might go investigating. Otherwise the larger screen is pretty, but I don’t really find it a necessity.

The smaller buttons on the back of the body are taking a little getting used to, and the switching of position of the Disp./Info and Menu buttons feels strange but I’ll get over it.

On the top of the camera there’s a little green light to show that it’s switched on which is somewhat annoying. I don’t see a reason for it, and having a little green glow in a dark gig makes me feel like there’s a neon sign over my head (more so than a camera glued to my face?). Perhaps it can be made to not come on so I should read the manual, or otherwise I guess I could colour it in with a black marker pen.

I’m not so keen on having to view the large LCD screen for settings. Again, in dark venues having the 400d’s large glowing screen, rather than the 300d’s small strip panel with a backlight that can be easily switched off and on, is frustrating. However I found that pressing “Disp.” stops the information from appearing so once you’ve got everything set you can just switch the screen off and use the dials to make adjustments by referring to the information in the viewfinder.

The shutter sound seems louder and crisper on the 400d.

There are an extra 2 auto-focus points but the order of selection has changed so that it switches from all points to the centre point before going through the rest from left to right, rather than from all points then left to right. This is another quirk that will take some getting used to (but should mean less playing with the dial).

I think I’ll leave the comparisons there for now. I’m still getting used to the 400d, and despite the comments above I really really do love it. I just have to break some old habits and I’ll fall more in love with it I’m sure.

And I need to get myself the EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens that’s out of stock in the 7 or 8 shops I’ve trawled through over the last couple of days. One of them said they’ll have some in later this week. Fingers crossed.

In the mean time I’ll just keep snapping anything in my way.


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Canon ups and downs (Sunday September 17th, 2006 - 13:49)

category: photography

Canon 430ex external flash

Above is my new little baby, a Canon 430EX external Flash, which I’d been eyeing up for a while. So far I’ve been practicing around home taking snaps of anything and everything in the automatic mode along with a couple of shots at gigs (I still don’t like flash use at gigs but some venues leave you little option but to snap a couple of pictures with a flash to get a decent shot). More practice required and I’m left wishing that there was a “school of gig photography” that would hire out a dark venue for a day and you could practice and perfect your shooting. They could give the stage up to bands who want to do a bit of rehearsing as long as they don’t object to Flashes going off and people hovering around their toes to try out different angles.

I was reading up on Dan Boud’s Tips for live music / concert photography before heading out last night. I’d decided it was time to try and take control over my camera rather than just adjust ISO and what not. But in the style of all things Niina, my little old 300D must have sensed what I was up to (or perhaps it had seen me enviously reading the new 400Ds specs) as after 5 shots it decided it didn’t want to auto-focus anymore. I took the camera to the loos to get some more light and see if I’d pushed something accidentally but couldn’t see anything wrong. I removed and replaced the battery. Tried the automatic shooting settings thinking the problem might be only with the advanced modes. Each time I pushed the shutter button halfway it would zoom in, zoom back out, remain out of focus and refuse to take the shot. Nothing could coax it to auto-focus.

Thankfully all was not lost as the camera let me take shots after I switched over to manual focus but Spectrum’s darkness and bouncing band members doesn’t make for easy shooting. The results were a little hit-and-miss but I did use the time to play around with the shutterspeed.

Back home I still can’t get to the bottom of the 300Ds broken auto-focus. The problem also occurs with my other lens, with the inbuilt flash, and with the 430ex flash, so it looks to be a problem with the camera body. Google searches haven’t brought up anything similar yet. I really don’t want to have to send it off to Canon for repair again after their shocking customer service last time. And there’s a gig coming up Friday that I want to take pictures at… hrm.

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