Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Devoting Some Time To My Other Hobby

Well, actually I have several hobbies, but I have only declared two of them to be my primary hobbies (the ones that I tend to spend a lot of money on) and those are amateur radio and photography. Over the years I have spent quite a bit (of money) on amateur radio equipment, but I have also sold some stuff in the past couple of years. I still have two HF radios, two mobile radios, and two HTs, and some of the accessories that go along with that, but my station is not nearly as extravagant as a lot of others. Photography seems to be where I spend the money the most.

I've got my Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM lens now, and used it shortly after buying it to photograph some of the Columbus Marathon that our ARES group was providing communication support for. I've been taking quite a few pictures at Dawes Arboretum and the Franklin Park Conservatory. I'm also in the process of trading up my point-and-shoot digital camera (the one that I take on business trips). The new P&S camera is actually a 10 megapixel, down from a 12 megapixel, but promises to be less noisy at the higher ISO settings. Plus the new camera also has the latest processor (Canon's DIGIC 4), a 20x optical zoom, USM focusing, optical image stabilization, and records stereo videos in the H.264 mode. The new camera is the Canon Powershot SX10.

I'm considering my next photography purchases. I want to expand into more macro photography. I've already got three items that are biased towards that type of photography: a Sigma 50mm macro lens, a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and a Canon MR-14EX Speedlite. However, I want to sell the old Sigma lens and put the money (it won't go far) towards four new items: the Canon 180mm f/3.5L macro lens, the MT-24EX twin-flash Speedlite, a focusing rail system, and the Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens (a very specialized lens). In my recent research on the MT-24EX and the MP-E lens, I re-discovered the Flickr website. I had an account on Flickr that was created a year or two ago, when Yahoo decided not to do photo-hosting. I never really used Flickr, but I had some photos on there that were transitioned from the old Yahoo Photos area. Flickr is a vast area and I look forward to regularly visiting it. In addition to Flickr, I spend quite a bit of time on two other photo-sharing websites: Pbase and Picasa. All three sites seem to have there strengths and weaknesses. I won't go into all of the pluses and minuses at this time, but I can tell you what I tend to use each one for. Pbase has been really good for me as I research new cameras or lenses. In most cases when a user uploads a photo to Pbase, the camera and shooting data is read from the JPEG's EXIF data and displayed automatically. The EXIF data includes the lens' focal length setting. Users have to flag photos in a batch mode with specific lens information, but once this is done, it helps out potential buyers immensely. I've used Picasa lately to display most of my photos. The site will also show shooting data, and will allow the photos to have tags, have geographic information associated with them, and most recently, allow people in the photos to be tagged. I can see that one of Flickr's strengths is the sharing of photos with other photographers. As a user, you can build up sets of photos, then collections (which are usually sets of sets). You can also submit photos to hundreds or thousands of groups (and those groups can have pools of photos), have slideshows, order prints (which the other two sites can do also), and tag and geotag photos. The tagging feature makes this a useful site for doing research also, assuming that users take the time to tag their photos.

UPDATE: I started composing this post about three weeks ago. I find it tough to get back in the same train of thought that I was in originally, so it is time to post it. I'll start a new thought in another post. To update some of these original thoughts: I've got the Canon SX10 now; I've sold the other P&S (a Canon PowerShot A650IS) to a co-worker; and I discovered that the older Sigma lenses don't always work on newer Canon EOS bodies and produce an error message (it's something related to timing), so I don't feel comfortable selling it on Ebay.

My photos on the aforementioned sites: