Tag Archives: DSLR

Gear 05.28.14

DSC_0031I thought I’d take a little time to write a bit about what I see as the nuts and bolts of photography- in the world of photography, the actual physical equipment that is used to create images. By physical equipment, I mean everything prior to the darkroom, usb cable or software.

Previously,  https://hochspeyer.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/rain/ , I had alluded to how Cokin filters had altered the face of photography when they first were introduced. I think I purchased my Cokin filters sometime in the very early Eighties, and recall angry letters to the editor to the likes of Popular Photography predicting the end of photography as we knew it and how Ansel Adams was turning in his grave (these are not verbatim memories, but the anti-Cokin crowd of the day was full of vitriol ).

Amazingly, the only gear that I have from that period that is viable  today is my tabletop tripod (which I have yet to locate, because it is in my…), camera bag, and my collection of Cokin filters (including the holder, adapter and lens shade.)  My much larger investment in 35mm camera bodies and lenses is pretty much worthless.

Be that as it may, I want to talk a bit about DSLR gear, and getting started in DSLR photography.

This blog originally started out a few days ago, but Meerkat’s coming of mileage grabbed the spotlight at that time, so now I’m getting back  to the topic of photographic hardware- specifically, DSLR (DSLR= digital single lens reflex) photography.

Our daughter and son-in-law  visited briefly this weekend (Amanda and Mike).  We had a fun (albeit brief) visit, and I got to show Amanda my camera. She immediately grabbed it, and after an abbreviated crash course (instruction), she was off snapping photos. After all of the excitement of taking pictures, we settled down to actually talking about equipment and technique. I showed her the Cokin filters, and I think she looked through each one (I have eleven).  She was puzzled by a few of the gradient filters, and I explained how they could perk up a pale sky or uninspired waterscape.  She also expressed some frustration at, after composing a shot, being unable to snap it-the camera was set to full auto- sort of like having a photo nanny!

“Don’t shoot that, sonny,” the photo nanny says, “your depth of field is way too shallow, you’re about one f-stop short of prefect lighting, and zoom lenses are for cowards! Besides, you’re not using a Hasselblad. Sheesh, you don’t even have Zeiss glass”

I don’t like photo nanny… and I just created her!

I told Amanda about the viewfinder, and how it had changed from 35mm days. She was curious, so I pulled out my Minolta X 700, and first showed her the 35-70 w/macro lens. She looked at the back of the body, and gave the back (where the end flap of the box of film goes) a poke. Then, she looked through the viewfinder, and was amused that she had to actually not only zoom manually, but focus as well!  Then, I pulled out f5.6 250mm catadioptric lens. I showed her how the mirrors worked, and explained why it was so slow. The highpoint of that discussion was unscrewing the +0 neutral density filter and putting in the grey filter, which stepped it down to f11. That was enough excitent for one day, so I put everything away.  Actually, I think it was getting close to dinner, so I put everything away, and the rest of the evening was consumed by dinner and a movie.

All in all, a pretty nice weekend.

Until next time, I am hochspeyer, one f-stop short of a six pack.




What do you mean, “No film?”

This is my second blog. I’m feeling a bit the minimalist, right here, right now. This is a blog about photography, and there won’t be any photos in the inaugural post. No matter. Blogs are built with words, and away we go!

When I was in high school, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. My cousin Jeff and I had thoughts about traveling to Germany (his Mom was an actual German, naturalized, and much of my family had German heritage). As most of my “plans” went, this didn’t happen. Well, it didn’t happen until I met Jennifer. I graduated high school in 1977, and for the next ten years tried to figure things out, mostly without success. Among the more interesting things I did during that period was a stint living away from home  at college. When I first went there, I had sold my Dad on my lifelong-dream-of-the-week of becoming a special ed teacher (at the time, no one knew that it was I who was actually the “special” one!). So I went there, and got my comeuppance. It turned out that I had a tyrannical instructor in one of my basic special education courses; if you did not have an excuse of typhoid, malaria and leprosy signed by Mother Theresa and witnessed by Nelson Mandela, you could lose a letter grade for missing a single day of class (well, I AM serious about the one day of class= one lost letter grade!) Upon experiencing this harassment 1st hand, I chose to switch majors. Photographic Technology beckoned. Odd switch, to say the least. Kids to cameras. Well, not really. At the time, I owned a 35mm camera, a Minolta (can’t remember which body). And, I liked taking pictures… and as I took a lot, photo tech seemed a natural. Except for the math and science parts (um, did someone bother mentioning “technology”???). You see, math was never my strongpoint in high school, and if I had been a little better at it, I would have gotten A’s in the classes. Instead, I received B’s, because I had to do catch-up math work. My lab partner was good at math, but not so good as a photographer or a lab person (very inconsistent). My takeaway from this period was some good photographic composition skills. Fast-forward several years. I’m married; Jennifer and I are planning a trip to Legoland (unbeknownst to me then, but an item on my bucket list). We are  living in Germany and Jennifer’s parents are on the phone asking if we need anything for the trip. I chime in, “twenty rolls of film!”  They think I am joking.

I never joke about Lego.

I think they sent us a dozen rolls- which were greatly appreciated; we shot nearly three dozen in that one glorious day in Denmark. That was ~1991. We’ve used a few other cameras since then, as well as the ubiquitous cell phone cameras, but I’ve always wanted to get back into SLR photography…”real” photography. In another blog (http://hochspeyer.blogspot.com/2013/10/lets-hear-it-for-autumn.html) I had mentioned a desire to purchase a DSLR. As of this past week, this desire has come true: we now have a Nikon D3200 with a pair of zoom lenses- an 18-55mm and a 75-200mm. The entire outfit was quite the bargain, considering I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a 35mm camera body, 50mm lens and 35-70mm zoom for the same price back when I was shooting film. So as Norbert would be quick to remind me, my latest  “dream-of-the-week” has come true. I’m very happy and feel blessed to have this camera- as little as six months ago we would not have even considered purchasing it… that’s another story for another time. For those who don’t know me, I believe the proper time to close a blog is when one runs out of words… and here  we are.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.