Canon gear advice

A 50mm wide aperture lens is a kit essential. The Canon 1.8 is so cheap that it would be better as part of a set than the standard 17-50mm. It is most DSLR users' introduction to bokeh and can be addictive. For most photographers, the €1000+ 50mm 1.2 L lens is completely out of reach and while there are cheaper choices from other makers, every Canon photographer has to take the 50mm f1.4 which you can get around €200 used on eBay.

It is great in a lot of ways: wide open, relatively high number of aperture blades so the bokeh highlights are not like squished pentagons (like the 1.8), full time manual override, distance scale on the top, and it's light and did well on any camera.

 But all of this comes with a dark side: The one major construction defect this lens has is the front focus ring that extends when you focus something up close is so weak, just a little pressure in a bag is enough to push it out of shape. 

This happened to mine over 2 years ago. It got slightly crushed then refused to work. I thought I had destroyed it for good so invested in a Canon 85mm 1.8 instead. But I always missed the close focusing ability of the 50mm. I searched around on YouTube and found a few repair videos. I followed the instructions, took my lens apart, gently coaxed the metal back to shape and then reassembled the lens. When I put it back on my camera, the focus send to work but when taking a shot an error came up saying something about the lens connection. I figured I had probably broken one of the delicate data cables inside the lens so back in the cupboard it went for another year.

 I was considering selling some old equipment recently and found the lens in the cupboard looking dusty. I got a bit nostalgic and wondered if I had the skill to finally fix the lens (or pay somebody else to), so I watched the videos on YouTube again and opened up the lens. It didn't take me long to spot that one of the data cables want sitting completely in the socket! I reassembleded the lens and to my relief and surprise, it started working again!! So this year I'm going to get re-acquainted with my nifty fifty but a word to the wise:

 Always store this lens with the focus set to infinity. This reduces the chance of going through what me and many other Canon 50 1.4 owners have already been through!

  

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100 strangers

I came across the Tuna de Medicina do Porto on myself way through town this morning. At first I thought they must be Jewish or Romanian or something but they are actually Portuguese. Wikipedia says "A tuna is a group of university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades. The tradition originated in Spain and Portugal in the 13th century as a means of students to earn money or food. Nowadays students don't belong to a "tuna" for money nor food, but seeking to keep a tradition alive, for fun, to travel a lot and to meet new people from other universities."

I caught him playing Stairway to Heaven

I caught him playing Stairway to Heaven

It's impressive that these students were studying medicine but still had time to play musical instruments and learn to sing in harmony to a professional level. I guess if they ever give up the day job, they will be set!

patches cover a cloak but room to spare

patches cover a cloak but room to spare

They were not singing to anyone but could've been making money as buskers

They were not singing to anyone but could've been making money as buskers

I'm guessing the guys with more experience are judging the newer fish

I'm guessing the guys with more experience are judging the newer fish

I was impressed by the fact that they just arrived from Australia, were probably jetlagged but seemed to be singing and playing music just for the fun of it rather than hawking tourists. Even though they could've made a killing with their talent! I wish them well on their journey and next performance wherever it may be.

apparently these guys' hairdos are the result of a lost bet

apparently these guys' hairdos are the result of a lost bet

Different view point

Canon 6D with 85mm

Canon 6D with 85mm

selfie stick with smartphone

selfie stick with smartphone

I've been meaning to do a comparison of DSLR Vs selfie stick photos for some time. It seems that selfie sticks became the norm for couples and travelers but can photos taken by them be as good as a DSLR?  When I saw Christine taking a photo by the Main river in Frankfurt I thought it would be a good opportunity to find out.

A full frame camera and small tele lens is bound to have a bit better background separation and blurry bokeh even when stopped down on a bright sunny day. In both pictures the sky is blown as shooting towards the sun. In general the DSLR probably is sharper and looks better to my eyes but I wonder if I keep doing selfie comparisons, will any particular situation favour the selfie... To be continued!

Congratulations

 something old, something new, something borrowed, something full frame

 something old, something new, something borrowed, something full frame

I might have to work on my rhyming skills. I did some photography at a wedding last week and while it was a long day, it was sunny and enjoyable every minute. Weddings are a special time and this wedding was certainly that involving a ceremony, party at a cafe and a trip on the local Frankfurt apple wine tram!

On my part, before the wedding I researched the locations, hunted for good photo places online and in person, did lots of research, found an able assistant and made tons of prep notes which all went out the window as time and circumstance didn't work in my favour at all...

Even so, it was a great event that I was proud to be a part of, and hopefully have recorded some decent memories of! If anybody needs any advice for wedding shoots - definitely have a back up camera even if you just borrow; take more batteries than you think you will need and make sure they are all fully charged; take time to relax amongst the chaos and have fun! 

100 Strangers

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Nilu - like all dogs makes for a difficult model as dogs never keep still and it's really easy for their long noses to distract your camera's AF points and put the eyes out of focus. One or two shots focused on a dog's nostrils is ok but not when you want to nail it right on the eyes and capture their emotions.

I have my camera set to switch to one point AF on the central focus point and go for servo focus to get the focus where I want it and adjust to small movements. It might help to say "sausages" too but results are inconclusive.

 

100 Strangers

Slack Lining (despite how this picture looks, he was not falling but actually bouncing on the line)

Slack Lining (despite how this picture looks, he was not falling but actually bouncing on the line)

Slack lining is one of those modern sporty pastimes I have seen being performed in parks a lot recently. It's curious and obviously must be good for exercise, balance and body conditioning but I have never understood how you actually do it. Let alone, what happens if you fall off when the elastic rope is just tight enough to rob your of any offspring should you land the wrong way. Chatting to Nico was enlightening and watching him bouncing up and down, turning around and maintaining his balance was really impressive for somebody who has only been doing it as a hobby. I can't say I would feel comfortable giving it a go yet but at least I have a greater appreciation of the skill. Maybe I can get my son to try it out...

100 Strangers

Drum and plates

Drum and plates

shy for a street performer

shy for a street performer

Seeing Iliya beating out some captivating rhythms on the street took me back to the first time I saw a street summer performing on pots and pans in New Orleans. It's amazing the amount of sounds that can be gotten out of a plastic tub and some old saucepan lids. Iliya told me he picked them up from hostels while he has been touring Europe. I always take street performer signs with a pinch of salt but I believed him when he said he's saving for a real drum kit so he can go to university to study music. With his talent it shouldn't take him long.

100 Strangers

Sometimes I struggle to find someone to take a photo of. One day I might feel less confident, other days I can't find the person who is close enough to the image I have in my head, and sometimes a person walks past and it takes a couple of seconds before I realised I actually did want to ask if I could take that person's photo, but by then the moment is gone...

Banking style

Banking style

But when I see someone this sharply dressed, there's no hesitation! The only downside being after taking a photo of somebody this stylish, I look at what I'm wearing and cry inside.

100 Strangers

Maria Anna

Maria Anna

This morning I found the perfect spot in town where the sun rises between two tall buildings and is reflected in the windows of another. This creates a massive natural golden urban reflector at just the right height for only 5 minutes before the sun is too high. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone suitable for a photo before the light had gone. I was just about to head off feeling cold and disappointed when I noticed Maria Anna was walking just behind me so even though I had lost the perfect moment, I decided to ask if I could take her photo. Well, at least, I tried to ask but she didn't understand what I was saying as she only spoke Russian. After some poor attempts at communication, she graciously let me take her photo. It was only then I realised walking round in the cold without gloves didn't help with keeping a camera steady. Luckily, after taking a couple of photos I asked if I could take one more, and this one (above) wasn't a blurry mess! I guess the moral of the story is never give up and don't dwell on missed opportunities... But always wrap up warm.

In the hot seat

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One of the oddest things I've seen next to a children's playground in Japan is this grounded fighter jet that was used for training the Japanese air force. The canopy was a bit hazy and has some anti glare coating on which caused some strange reflections and I had to reach over with my camera, so I didn't know what was actually in the cockpit until after I got to my computer.

Kamome

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This limited express called Kamome runs from Nagasaki to Kitakyushu and was the first train I rode that made me feel in awe of Japanese style and technology. The seats are all soft black leather the floor is parquet and the walls are off-white (no first/second class disparity). There is a small pullout table hidden in each seat's armrest. Each pair of seats has a foot switch that can be used to rotate the seats to face the other direction making a group of four. If all four seat's tables is taken out then it will make one later table.  And of course, the ride is smooth, fast and quiet. Compared to the dirty plastic, chewing gum patterned carpet, diesel fume belching trains of the UK, it felt like something out of the distant future and still shines to this day.