Photography


I’ve been working furiously to review, edit and post my best shots from the F1 weekend to flickr.  After I had posted a few in an initial batch, I got an email from an editor at Wikipedia.  He had seen my photos on flickr, and was asking if I would allow some of them to be used within articles about F1.  This was a pretty big honour to me, and being able to actually put content back into Wikipedia is something I’m really happy about.  In order to make this possible, I had to change the licensing on my images to a Creative Commons License.  So I took care of this, and about an hour later, my images were dressing up several articles.

Here’s a sampling of my images on Wikipedia pages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Canadian_Grand_Prix
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kubica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bmw_sauber
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_Sauber_F1.08
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubens_Barrichello
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_RA108
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Vettel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuderia_Toro_Rosso
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Coulthard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull_Racing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull_RB4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Windsor

So, that’s it for now.  Back to the creative destruction we call home renovation…

mJm

I love to take pictures. I think one of the main attractions for me is the ability to do something artistic and permanent. Much of my professional effort is on things that are more ephemeral like organizations and product releases. Those things evolve very quickly and what was “new” and exciting is forgotten in as little as a year. Pictures are forever though.

I started taking pictures when we lived in California. We bought our first digital camera (a Kodak), and it went everywhere with us. Over time, we upgraded our digital cameras, but they were still fixed lens little jobs which mostly evolved around MegaPixel resolution and size of LCD.

In 2004, I decided to start researching DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. I had never owned a film SLR (aside from one I picked up in a Vegas pawn shop, but that’s a whole other story). I looked at and read about all the latest cameras, and settled on a Canon EOS 2oD.

I’ll offer some free advice on equipment. I think for the most part, I’ve made great choices, but there are some things I’d do differently. First off, I would recommend looking on Amazon.com or Adorama.com because they consistently have great prices and great selections. If you know what you want, look there first.

So, here’s what I have:

  • Canon EOS 20D : Review here

Great camera, and no regrets about the purchase. 8.2 MegaPixels, 1.8″ diagonal LCD. It’s been replaced with the 30D, which has a redesigned body and a 2.5″ LCD. That LCD makes a big difference. Check out the 30D review here.

This is one of the 2 lenses that I keep on my camera. It’s the 2nd lens and I bought, and I’ve found it’s a great general purpose lens. I’ve used it for close-ups of people, as well as wider shots. It’s a very good lens, and I recommend it.

This was a mistake. When I bought the camera, instead of just getting the body, I decided to buy it with this lens. Well, the lens feels like a piece of plastic. There’s no mass to it, and the few times I’ve used it have produced uninspiring results. I’d recommend you pass on this. There’s a reason it’s bundled with many bodies, and that’s because I doubt anyone would actively seek out this lens.

I just bought this lens recently. I’ve been looking for an ultra wide angle lens for large landscape shots as well as group shots. This has become my other “go to” lens. It’s a great piece of glass, and I used it extensively in Phuket. I rarely took it off my camera, and was very pleased with the results. It’s a substantial feeling lens, and the optics are fantastic. When I bought this lens, I decided to protect my investments by putting a good UV filter on them. I did this for my 100-400m zoom. I liked the results that the filter gave me. I haven’t tried putting both the UV and the Polarizer but I’m curious to see what happens (and how much light I lose).

This is a very heavy lens. But I’ll happily lug it around for miles because the shots I get with it are very pleasing. It’s certainly not my fastest lens, but for outdoor sporting use (like my F1 trips) it’s amazing. If you’re going to get a lens like this you must invest in a decent monopod. The stabalization in this lens is pretty good, and suits the task of horizontal panning with a car very well. I’ve put a UV filter on this one as well to protect the glass. It gets crowded in those great spots for F1 shots, so better safe than sorry. This is the glass that gives folks some lens envy. In fact I recently spent time with someone who insisted that “his was bigger”.

This is also a new lens for me. I have had great fun taking extreme macro pictures of insects, flowers, and anything else that strikes me as interesting. I need to get a better tripod than the one I have because this is a lens that will require great composition and preparation in order to get the best results. But in the limited experimentation I’ve done gives me high hopes for some great results with this lens.

Now all this equipment isn’t light. And I haven’t yet developed the discipline to leave some glass behind (well, actually, I do leave the 18-55 behind regularly). So I have lenses, body, filters, cables, extra batteries, extra flash cards, external flashes etc. It’s a lot of stuff. I also have my 17″ MacBook. It would be great to be able to carry all this stuff in 1 bag. Well, this is the one! It’s not a small bag, but it will carry everything you need and then some. I carried this to the other side of the Earth and wasn’t bothered by it. It was heavy to be sure, but when you carry it the right way, it’s not a problem. I was worried that I’d have problems with Thai Airways because it is big and heavy, but nobody batted an eye. So it’s carry on luggage.

This is the companion for my 100-400mm zoom. It’s light, very sturdy and collapses to a size that makes strapping it to the back of my bag easy. It’s a definite must-have for anyone with a heavy lens.

I have a few assorted accessories as well. I bought the battery grip because I like the shape of the camera better, as well as the longer life I get because I’m doubling up the batteries. I have a Remote Switch for macro shots and a few extra batteries. I shoot with an 8GB fast CF card, and have 2 2GB backups.

Finally, one thing that was driving me nuts was sensor dust. No matter how careful you are, sooner or later, you’re going to get dust on your sensor. It’s not going to be visible with your lens wide open, but when you shoot something at f/22 or higher you’ll see those dreaded blotches in your picture. They’re especially clear when you’re shooting with a bright homogeneous background like the sky. Well, I did some tests, and my sensor was seriously dirty. At f/22 I took some pictures of a white sheet of paper, and it looks like someone sneezed on my sensor.


I did some research, and found a Canadian company VisibleDust that sells both wet and dry sensor cleaning kits. I ordered one of each, and can state confidently that these tools work very well. Cleaning your sensor is an intimidating task, but if you follow their instructions it’s pretty simple.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but I’ll fix it later.

mJm

A few years ago, I took the leap and bought my wife a Mac. It was a leap because for years I made fun of them as toys run by zealots who didn’t know that MacOS (pre-X) was junk. But the iMac was (and is) a very attractive object, and it fits very nicely with the decor of our kitchen. My wife really enjoys working with digital photos and home movies, and we quickly learned that the Mac was absolutely the best tool for these tasks.

I however, make my living mostly from PCs. I’ve been a Windows user since 1.0, and have “suffered” through years and years of building and managing the building of software for this platform. But wow, when I recently got a MacBook Pro (17″) my life changed. I love the Mac, and I love MacOS X.

I have for several years been very passionate about digital photography. I purchased a Canon EOS20d a few years ago, and have been diligently adding to my lens and accessory collection. The combination of great digital photography equipment and the MacBook Pro is beyond description.

It’s SO easy to manage, edit and publish pictures. So the Mac has become a very important part of my recreational life. In my recent trip to Thailand, I left the PC at home, and brought the Mac. Being 12 hours ahead of home was actually pretty good for us, because we were able to use iChat to see and hear our kids twice a day! In fact, sitting in the airport lounges in Phuket and Tokyo was actually fun because I could goof around with my kids who were literally half a world away.

I even had a video chat with them as I sat in a lounge chair on the beach in Phuket! This is technology with a soul, and one that genuinely improves human relationships. I heartily recommend the Mac to everyone!

Mark has come to a sad realization about the PC, Accept or Cancel

Click here to see the greatest commercials ever produced.


I promised myself after my trip to Phuket, Thailand that I would start a blog. It was mainly driven by my desire to make the many pictures I take on trips available to friends. Picasa does a great job of making photo sharing easy, but there’s no where to fit in my “insightful commentary”.

So who am I? I’m a Canadian guy who works for a large global software company. I will not be referencing anything in my blog that is work-related because I like to keep my peas and carrots separate. I’ve been married for 13+ years to a wonderful woman who has built a beautiful life together with me, and the greatest kids a man could ever hope for. My elder daughter is our future singer/writer/actor/dancer/scientist/researcher, and my younger son is “mini me” (how many 5 year olds do you know can name nearly all the F1 teams, drivers and constructor logos?). I live in a small town near Waterloo, Ontario, home of the Blackberry and the Perimeter Institute!

My apologies in advance for any meandering postings. I suspect I’ll be doing most of the writing at airport gates and Admiral’s Clubs around the planet. The power of the web is that anyone can have a blog. You must decide if this is a blog that you want to waste your time on ;)

mJm