Monday, February 15, 2010

Thank You George Washington (plus Lincoln, Jefferson, et. al. )

75 degrees and blazing sunshine on February 15 brought out lots of people on two wheels and on foot this afternoon. I am still learning how to use my point and shoot digital camera for quick shots while in motion on the bicycle. I used various SLR 35mm cameras for years. I kind of feel like all that darkroom experience is archaic and useless knowledge now. Although if/when the zombie apocalypse occurs, and an unexpected side-effect is that the zombifying virus also eats the CCDs of digital cameras, I'll be ready with my enlarger, chemicals, and red lights. Bring it, zombies, I'll still be there to record the mayhem for posterity. I mention the acclimatization to the digital camera because although my Canon SD850 IS is a great little camera, it does not by default or without some prodding and fiddling set to a fast shutter speed, nor does it have a "sports" scene mode which would probably help. So, while I hammer out various workarounds to achieve fast shutter speeds, like "HI ISO AUTO" and "KIDS& PETS" setting, I will keep wrecking great shots like the following, which I'm sure you'll agree is a damned, crying shame:
  The pink bike: photographic tragedy #12

Tandem Couple: in focus

I used to love to use a 400mm Spiratone telephoto lens that I'm sure would alert security personnel within a half-mile to profile me these days, but dang that thing was (or is) awesome. I had a 2x converter that made that bad boy into an f12.6, 800mm optical cannon. I bought it myself in New York City, then walked around shooting seagull and ferry pictures from a mile away. The lens had a manually closed diaphragm--you set the f-stop, focused, then turned a ring to stop-down the diaphragm to the setting you chose. And the point is, with practice, I could take a grab shot with the Spiratone 400mm lens, shutter speed set to 1/500 second, in bright daylight, with no blur, faster than I can successfully grab an action shot from bike with the digital camera. I'll figure it out with practice it, or I'll just get a better camera (DSLR anyone?). Know your equipment, I guess.
400mm Spiratone Optical Cannon (NOT FOR SALE)

I don't advocate using the 400mm while riding a bicycle, although its Deluxe Tubular Carry-case w. filter compartment would look rad zip-tied to the seat stay.
And imagine the reaction of neighbors as I point the thing up and down the street, preset the f-stop, focus, and try to shoot. Heh. All my shots would be blurred, flat colored, tele-compressed perspectives of people running away, lit by police lights. Maybe. Although you never know. The lens uses a T-mount, which I think can be easily adapted to some DSLR bodies. And thanks to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, et. al., I can at least contemplate the possibility of trying it. Free to try out freakishly long telephotos lenses on modern digital cameras to explore the possibilities. What a country. Get up. Go ride.


  1. The point and shoots are a b!tch to get action shots with.
    Flat Tire staffer Evil Hoku(BFA Photo) has a Fuji that I believe has manual settings so that may help. Or not.
    I shoot with a cheap Nikon L20, bought so that in case I crash, I'm not crying. That camera takes crappy shots even when I'm standing still.
    I also have a Canon S5 with the 'action' setting, but that doesn't really help either though it does have a manual setting also.
    I'm wondering what happens if you turn off the face detection? Can't do it on the Nikon, but I'll try it on the S5.

  2. I will need more than a point and shoot to content my action shooting soul I think. Shutter priority and some multiple frames per second continuous shooting would be great, for example.

  3. gotta love those point-n- shootz :D
    I really like that top picture though, keep shooting i wanna see more of your surroundings – and 75° wow, so nice!
    cheers -meli

  4. For FPS I think you gotta go CMOS.
    Canon made a PS with CMOS called the SX1IS, but according to BH Photo, it is discontinued. Still in stock at Amazon though. I may have to trade up.
    DSLR like the EOS is too much camera for me and way too bulky.
    Total control and a fast lens would be great though, especially since I was thinking of some astrophotography.
    Decisions, decisions.

  5. meligrosa thanks! I'll be referring back to these 75 degree shots when it's 110...and explaining why I love the summers!

    limom keep the tech coming, I crave it like chocolate. Back in the day when people still shot film, I used a olympus om-10 which in addition to having a totally awesome spokesmodel, was also quite small, light, durable and fast. I used bulk-loaded film by the yard. For now I think I'll stick with the pocket electronic camera, and make a punch list of features for whenever I get the next one.


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