I got back into SLR photography early last year and purchased a used Canon camera. I had once been a fairly serious photographer, but I couldn’t afford new equipment when the world went digital. I’ve had a serious of point and shoot digital cameras (The Olympus Tough being my favorite — a mighty fine camera) but they weren’t doing the job when shooting sales shots of my artwork.
I only intended to shoot my work for promotion, but with a better camera I’ve been seeing more opportunity for photography to enhance my work.
I’ve written a great deal about how I visualize and design my work. The process has evolved a bit, but essentially I study the bird in field, draw it a lot, reference field guides and internet images, draw a lot, etc.
I love my field guides (ranging from before the turn of the last century to the iBird app on my phone) but there’s something not so very staisfying about relying so much on another artist’s photos or paintings to develop my work. They are an essential part of the creative process, but my growing dissatisfaction has led me to attempt to shoot, collect and organize my own reference photos.
(Spending time with great photographers has also inspired me to look into this.)
I purchased a second used Canon SLR camera for my daughter at Christmas and spent a great deal of time exploring used bodies and lens online. I found that a kit grade zoom, 75-300mm, 1:4-5.6, could be had for a bit over $100. I came away from Christmas with a bit of cash and sunk it into this lens.
This is not a high quality lens. It’s not great in low light and without image stabilization it will not deliver the razor sharp shots of my field guides, but it will allow me to begin to explore close(r) shots of birds.
The lens arrived on Monday evening. I played with it a bit in the house, but the experience was less than satisfying in my small rooms. Work was a bit crazy this week (I’m a teacher and we’re entering state testing season) and I never had a free moment during daylight. I stopped on the way home from work last night and took a few fast shot in low light in dwindling early evening light. This flock of geese was paddling around in my favorite little retention pond adjacent to Stony Creek. They weren’ t too happy to have me around and quickly took flight.
In the low light and automatic setting the motion of the flying geese wasn’t frozen.
There is a better lens in my future but this is a great start. Today I’m waiting for a few birds to come to the feeder for a few more shots.