Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gone Ultra-Wide, and Other Stuff

Today I got my biggest Christmas present:

The Sigma 10-20mm Wide-angle lens.

It means I can take photos of something close-up and manage to capture the whole thing; for instance a couch - I could stand at the edge of a couch and include the entire thing in my photo.

I've gone out and taken some experimental shots (on Flickr) and the results are pretty cool. It's my first wide-angle lens and the first really good lens other than a Canon (a Sigma). The lens hood is a great touch.

The shot above was taken from my new camcorder - another big gift I'd gotten - because my Kodak camera is useless in terms of using up batteries. The only downside is I had to trade in my kit lens - but that's not really too bad. It completes the spectrum: I have this wide-angle, the 50mm prime, and the 75-300mm telephoto lens. From close to wide, I have it all. I just don't cover 20-50mm range anymore. But I'm not really too sad about that, that lens was the cheap add-on to complete the kit. It wasn't a super awesome professional lens, and half the time it focused in the wrong places or not at all (the majority of my Christmas photos came out unfocused using this lens). It was still in good shape and Henry's is now making good use of it.

On the other hand, the camcorder is really good as well. It's my darn third unit as my other older two have stopped working for whatever reason. I'd pin it on my using them for time-lapse videos. For instance, my really old film camcorder stopped showing a good picture anymore, and I attribute that to my pressing the record button twice at intervals to capture the scene, over and over for a long time to then fast-forward the result, making it a time-lapse video. That, and continuously fast-forwarding the tape, is what likely ruined the picture. Then I got a new one, much smaller and which used DV tapes, and when I started leaving it on for almost hours long just so I could speed the video up on the computer, it stopped working properly and stayed in 'play' mode, not being able to turn off or switch modes. The battery drained, and the only way to turn it on is to plug it in; you can't charge it because it turns itself on the minute it's plugged in, to 'play' mode. All because I wanted to make time-lapse videos.

I've learnt my lesson by now - I'm not doing any of that to this machine, which is smaller and uses just a memory card (evolution timeline here). I'm using it for what I originally wanted to use a camcorder for - filming proper things and making documentaries. 

Ironically, this camcorder comes with a time-lapse function.

Okay, okay, I've used that function once. The result here. Maybe I'll use that. But why didn't they come out with this function earlier? I could have spent way less money and time and stress if they'd had that function on my previous camcorders. No loss!

But it does open up some interesting ideas. One other great thing I got for Christmas is a new tripod, a sturdy one with thicker legs and a swivel-pivoting head. With all knobs in order. I'm not throwing out the old tripod, for it is still extremely useful. I can use both in some situations. Maybe while one camera stays in a corner time-lapsing the whole activity in the room on one tripod, the other can be used for filming the action in real-time. Then I have a sped-up time-lapse video of the video taking place. Sounds kind of like overkill but there are many examples out there. Just for fun, on film sets or during TV shows they'll have an additional camera at the edge of a room or set to show the evolution of how it was all put together, conveniently in under five seconds. They had that on Monster Garage. Every now and then, there'd be a small scene, usually before/after commercials, of a time-lapse of the mechanics and welders working on the vehicle. You could see the cameramen but they weren't really the focus of the scene, and besides they help to show how things looked behind the scene.

That's why it's always good to have more than what you'd need in terms of equipment. I was very fortunate this Christmas, and I have my mother and family to thank for that. I do hope everyone else who reads this had a great Christmas and spent it with many people they loved. With my three + cameras, camcorder, and tripods, I can accomplish many cool things. We'll see. I've uploaded some bass covers onto YouTube and the sound quality is surprisingly awesome with the deep sounds of my bass. I might try another documentary, with this newly expanded amount of resources. 

Wrapping things up, again, I hope everyone's Christmas was highly enjoyed and spent with close ones. I had a pretty good holiday, it's still not finished yet actually, but nevertheless. I've got things to think about, to plan, to take photos of, to do with. One more thing I should note is I saw a really nice movie last night, a feature called (500) Days of Summer. I like it in terms of how it is not your usual "they got together at the end" type of thing and that it was not typical of romantic films and it was realistic. The acting was exceptional and very real. Putting aside the fact that I like the female lead in the film, I liked it quite a bit and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see something refreshing.

Happy holidays.

Justin C.

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