Tuesday, 25 March 2008

New Camera - Welcome to the Digital Age

Since starting this blog, I have become more enthusiastic about taking pictures. This resulted in me brushing off my 35mm camera (and getting a new body for it), and using my N95 more often for snaps. Well, this weekend saw the dawn of a new age. I finally went and got a decent digital camera. One which will (hopefully) enable me to take higher resolution digital photos, and become more creative with my pictures.
Typically, this weekend past was one of the worst weekends for running around with a new camera. It was cold, windy, and snowy.

So, about the camera. It is a Canon PowerShot A720 IS. I actually bought it without knowing quite what I was buying. I had wanted an A550 for a while, but did not even know the A720 existed. But having bought it, I am continually impressed with the features and cannot wait to get to know the camera better. Some of the features of my new camera are:

Aperture Priority
Shutter Priority
Manual Focus
Manual Flash Power Output
Panorama Mode

This isn't an impressive list of features for a DSLR. In fact you would expect them as standard. However, the A720 is a compact rather than and SLR. Having aperture and shutter priority it almost unheard of in all but the higher end of digital compacts. Certainly pricewise, this is not the most expensive, nor is it the most fully featured. But it takes excellent photos, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Police Seek Man After Assault on Amateur Photographer

Police are seeking this man after he assaulted a photographer

London Transport Police are seeking the man in the above picture after he assaulted an amateur photographer on December 12th 2007. It appears that this person did not like his photo being taken:

"The photographer told him he could not delete the shot as it was not a digital camera. The man then attempted to grab the camera and punched the victim in the face. The victim suffered cuts and bruising to his face as a result of the incident."

Quite amusingly the picture that the photographer took, and that the man was so keen to get hold of, is now being used on his wanted poster. Read the full article by clicking on the photo of following the link here.

As both an amateur photographer, and one who uses 35mm film, I understand the predicament. From my point of view, if I take a photo of someone and they do not want me to have it, I can only assure them that I will honour their request, and would offer to send them the negative and photo for their piece of mind. The article does not say if the photographer had offered this option. I can only hope he did.

As an interesting aside, one of the places linking to the story is the blog Going Underground. It is an excellent blog and well worth a look. One of the questions in the comments on this article was if photography is permitted or the London Underground or not. The reason for this is that the London Underground is private property, and therefore the owners can decide on the rules, rather than the area coming under a general 'public places' rule. Anyway, John B read through all of the info and it appears that amateur photography is allowed provided flashes and tripods aren't used.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Chicago Cloud Gate - Feb 2008 (part 2)

And so, onto day two of taking photos of the Cloud Gate. I found myself awake quite early and so decided to head down to Millennium Park to get some shots before the place got too packed with tourists. Although there were tourists, they didn't get in the way too much.
On the way up to the area where the Cloud Gate sits is one of the best photo opportunities. Taken from the side of the Cloud Gate, it is possible to get an excellent shot of the Chicago skyline reflected while not actually featuring in the photo. 
If one stands behind the wall in the photo below, it is possible to take the second photo.   

Admittedly, the second on is not that great. The N95 doesn't have optical zoom, so I wasn't able to take a picture without the railing in it. I could crop the shot but I quite like the buildings in the background, particularly the steam rising from the CNA building.

Up on the Cloud Gate are there are some excellent shots to be had. I really like the one below because it shows such a large part of the Chicago skyline, with a much darker sky than the one behind the Gate itself. Yes, that is me on stage centre. I took the photo-op while people were watching some ice skating on the area below.


Once the ice skating was over, people started milling around, and getting in my way, so I decided to take some photos from under the Cloud Gate itself, something I didn't get to do last time.

This photo and the ones below are taken from the concave area in the middle of the bean. I could have stood there and taken hundreds of photos. Everywhere you looked there were different shapes and reflections happening. I only took these three with my phone camera as there was a family walking towards where I was standing and would have interfered with the photos!

I hope you enjoy looking at the dawn and dusk collection of my Cloud Gate photos. I'm sure it will feature again on this blog since I will probably go out to Chicago again someday, and since I love the way it looks I will definitely go there again.

Be sure to click on the images to see them in larger format.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Chicago Cloud Gate - Feb 2008 (part 1)

Recently I was sent to Chicago for a whole week. I spent most of my time in an office, but I did get couple of evenings and days to myself. Naturally, I used this as an opportunity to run around Chicago with my cameras taking as many photos as possible.
At the time of writing this article, my 35mm photos haven't been processed, so I will be dealing entirely with the photos taken with my N95.

My first real photo opportunity while I was in Chicago came on Friday night (I had been there since Tuesday). I got back to my hotel, The Hotel Sax, dropped off my stuff and legged it as quickly as possible to Millennium Park to capture what was left of the sunset in the Cloud Gate.
It can be most frustrating as a photographer when you have limited amount of time (in this case it was freezing, and the light was fading), and tourists want to get in the way of your intended shot. The couple in this one stood there for what seemed like ages just as I set up for my shot.

It was a shame, because this particular angle captured a as large an area of the Chicago skyline as possible, as well as the moon (click to see the larger image and see below), and the sky behind.

I must admit, I quite like the above crop. It looks like there are two different skies being photographed. What do you think?
In the end I had to take what I could before I both lost the light and my fingers; it was bitterly cold that evening. The photo below is the stronger of the ones I took on the Friday night, showing the skyline, and the sunset reflected in the Cloud Gate.

I am toying with the idea of cropping the building on the right out of the photo as it will focus more on the Cloud Gate reflection. However, cropping my remove too much of the distance element from the 'rule of thirds'. Once again, what do you think?

This is part one of my Chicago Cloud Gate Collection. I will post the next set tomorrow.