Had been using my trusty Sony H2 for quite sometime and was pretty happy with it, apart from the rare occasions where I'd think a manual focus would have helped so much!
Plus the friends telling me "you deserve a DSLR, you will see the results for yourself" got me thinking. Went about listing out the probable cameras which would fit my rugged style, and the pocket too :D
Which one would take my outdoor lifestyle, manage decent range without changing lenses too often, etc. Note here that I was "spoilt" by my H2 which would allow me to take macros as well as telephoto shots without having to change lenses.
Have had horrible experiences with the battery life/usage with a P&S where I've been left high and dry in places which provided many more frames.
The single most reason I went in for a DSLR was the ability to use strobes and play around with Off camera flash. Fish photography is what got me into this hobby, and am glad has remained at the top of my "Genres". The passion to show the fish of my land in their best sure did help seal the decision!
The Nikon D80 was top of the list, but with it being out of production - getting hold of it seemed very unlikely unless I looked around for a used body. And then happened to look at the Canon prices and the 450D seemed pretty much "in range" and also allowed me to invest on a telephoto lens too. To me the gear/make hardly matters, cameras are just "tools" which help capture what the eye perceives as a SHOT.
Went ahead and bought the Canon 450D and we were inseparable for the first few days, played around with the settings trying to get familiarized. And all the outdoor trips still took the trusty H2 along too, just in case there was a scene that was too complex to handle with a new camera :)
ISO Speeds seemed so much different, ISO 200 on the H2 and on the 450D were worlds apart! Aperture settings and the resulting DoF were as different as chalk and cheese. All the other concepts of metering, shutter speeds still helped (all the more reason one must have sound basics)
There are many places on earth which can be called "Heaven on earth" and one of those places has to be Yosemite national park. What a place to start the debut of the camera outdoors! A frame everywhere you turn or see, spoilt for choices got some decent ones (for that point in time).
And for a fully reflected frame
This from here will be a sort of a "year in review" :)
SFO and it's surrounding places provided enough opportunities
The first time I saw a full rainbow
The coastline of California presented some nice views too.
Down the line picked up the Canon 55-250mm f4/5.6 AKA Nifty two fifty to fill the telephoto void. Though it does not provide that great a reach, it more than makes up with the decent IQ And IS. The IS especially has helped me on many occassions in fading light and the wetlands around SFO.
The dainty and super beautiful hummingbird
Christmas weekend visited my cousin at San diego. Sea world had to be on my must-see list and I'm glad I went
Slowly got accustomed to the 450D and the H2 got used sparingly.
Back home in Bangalore, it was finally time to put the Strobes to use in fish photography - thanks to my dear friend Vyas who let me use his Vivitar 2800 (I had not ordered a flash yet)
Light and proper use of it sure does help get the max out of lenses. The use of light sure did bring a smile and that new found sense of excitement. Flash photography does teach you a lot - and believe me each part/new technique does that. I call it expanding your envelope, pushing yourself from the comfort zone to just outside it and get comfortable there :)
A simple egg
By now I was beginning to see a good "progression" (thankfully) of images and their quality. Did give me the confidence to showcase the fish of India and created an album dedicated to them.
Puntius filamentosus male - with the tubercles showing in readiness to breed
Anyone for a kiss?
You can see the whole album here
The Channa barca and their grace did provide a fresh bout of inspiration
And so did the interesting fish that came in.
My "pet" Oscar
Now that's what you call a closeup :)
The bird shots came along, and some came off pretty decent I thought.
A long time dreamt shot of a bat in flight, too bad the sun was behind it
Banking Brahminy kite
On the lookout for easy prey
Roosting ring necked parakeets
And not to miss the beauties which cannot fly - the flowers. Call flower shots cliche, but they sure do have their place in photography and the eye of the beauty seeker
Even the weeds can have some interesting flowers
A few staged ones
Got to borrow Ajay's Tamron 90 macro (for an extended period) - thanks Ajay! And as they say once you've tasted it, you gotta have it and in came the my own Tamron 90 macro..yay! That opened up a whole new world alebit small yet very diverse. Started noticing bugs around the garden more closely and was rewarded with fabulous sights and previously overlooked details...making me fall in love with nature over again.
The mating dragonflies
They love it mid-air!
The hot seat
Ant mimicking spider
The mother Lynx spider guarding her nest
After the babies have left to fend for themselves
The little jumping spider with it's huge eyes
This is what a fly looks like :D :P
And this is how much it can turn it's head
The super odd looking caterpillar
Amazing handiwork of nature - the compound eyes of the dragonfly
The wings are no less intricate - the common picturewing
Wasps - large and small
Long legged fly - super reactive to flash, tend to bounce when flashed
For once when it did not
The delicate damselfly
A few reptiles along the way, none exotic yet
The slithery skink
The scales of a road-killed green vine snake :(
Met some interesting people and made some "happy with" if not reasonable images.
The smiling buddha :D
Landscapes are always catpivating and did delve into that a little bit more thanks to the "wider" reach of the 18-55 (I know people with a 10-22 will be laughing at this :P)
Sands on a beach
Lighthouse at Point reyes
Waiting for the rains
Summers in South India
Waiting for the tide to recede
And a few abstracts to add to the mix ;)
The running snail :P
Fish arranged to catch attention @ Karwar
Playing with smoke
So, exactly a year ago the "kit" started with the 450D and a gifted kit lens (thanks Ishaq bhaya)
And now has the following -
* Canon 450D with the Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro - a super versatile lens (and SUPER macro capability). Generally has the CTR-301P radio trigger mounted.
* Canon 50mm f1.8 AKA nifty fifty - low light master
* Canon 18-55mm EF-S Kit lens - the workhorse
* Canon 55-250mm IS - THE walk around lens. Allows for some telephoto ops.
* YN-465 speedlite - When the sunlight isn't enough! Generally sits on the CTR-301P receiver
Though not a bike ride, but it's been a ride nonetheless making all these ;-)
In case there is no posting till the new year, wish you all a super new year ahead filled with joy and prosperity. May mother nature continue to shower us with the embarrassment of plenty and wonder!
This year has seen many lives come and go, I lost my very young cousin Sana and a great aquarist friend Trevor - whose photography inspired me in the nascent days of my fish photography. Dedicate this post as this year is all set to bid goodbye to you souls I'm happy to have met, thank you for everything :)