Sunday, May 30, 2010

One week in Marquette

Well, I arrived in Marquette a week ago tomorrow. It's been a relaxing time for me, and being all by myself, I have been keeping a strange schedule, with each day unfolding as it may. I had hoped for some overcast days for some waterfall work, and it looks there may be rain the last day that I'll be here. So, I have been getting up early some days and doing some shooting before the sun gets too high, or else I have been out late into the evening. Midday usually finds me doing other things, but a camera is always with me. Yesterday I was in Negaunee and Ishpeming, two old mining towns west of Marquette. Both have seen better days, and I think one could do a good photo essay or two on bars there. I did visit a bunch of antique shops, and found a nice vintage print of Wagner falls that looks to be about 75 years old.

Today was really pretty hot and humid, and it was partly cloudy by the time I got out and about. I hit the beautiful Peter White Library on Front Street in Marquette and read a few newspapers and took some interior shots. Peter White was probably the most influential person to make Marquette become a city.
The Shiras Room at the Peter White Library.

Afterwards, I drove over to Marquette's Park Cemetery - a truly beautiful place that has a pond amidst the graves. All the Marquette notables are buried there, and yes, so is Peter White. I wanted to visit while the graves of veterans had fresh flags and flowers for Memorial Day. I think I got some good photos there.
remember those who served

In the evening, I headed over to Presque Isle once again, and was amazed at how cool it was there compared to around the apartment, just a mile or so away. By the time I was finished shooting I was quite chilled, and the approaching storm was putting up a nice breeze that added to the already cool 58 deg F. I got some fine shots, despite being cold. Sometimes I think I do better work when I am challenged by the conditions.
raking light

Ore dock

Presque Isle

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Hot Time in the UP

As in it's been over 90 deg. F the past two days...and it's May. I certainly have never seen it like this up in Marquette. Even when it's been hot in midsummer, there would be thunderstorms to cool things off. So, to say the least, this is unusual weather. The kind of pervasive heat that dulls your ambition. However, evenings near the lake have been very nice. This evening I shot 3 rolls of film in the Canon EOS Elan II. That's a really likeable camera, and I find it a lot of fun to use. Yesterday, and earlier in the day, I used the Canon 1000D. Tomorrow, my plan is to go to the Keweenaw peninsula. It might even be cooler there.

Little Presque Isle

Little Presque Isle. There is a bank of fog just beyond due to the cold lake water and the hot air temperatures.

Oh, and this is the Canon gear I brought up with me:
Canon Barrage

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sublime Saturday Morning

This morning has been a misty, overcast day. Not raining hard enough to deter me from photography, yet too wet to do yard work. One of those mornings where sipping a cup of coffee and sitting on a front porch can be a delicious psychological treat. The garden is luscious with all the recent rain, and the lilac's perfume is heavy. It's one of those times when all can seem right with one's corner of the world, and a moment to be taken in slowly and appreciatively.

I decided to shoot a roll of film in my Nikon F3HP with a newly-acquired 105mm 2.5 lens. I knew that I wanted to get close (and this is not the micro-Nikkor), so I put on the PK13a extension tube. I managed to quickly go through a 36 exposure roll of Kodak Gold 100, which I will drop off at Walgreens in a bit.

I also took some photos with my Canon Powershot G11, one of which is shown here. I think it captured the essence of the moment pretty well. I'm leaving for a week in Marquette on Monday, so I'm getting all my photo gear together this weekend. I promise to have images up when possible.

I hope you have a relaxing Saturday, too.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Canon Fodder

A few posts ago, I warned you that I would soon post something about a Canon DSLR. Well, I got rather lucky on ebay a few weeks ago and picked up a Canon 1000D from someone in Michigan. If you are in the USA, you are probably wondering "What the heck is the 1000D?" For some reason Nikon and Canon have often labeled non-pro SLRs differently in the USA from the rest of the world. For Nikon, they'd label a camera the F-301 elsewhere, while in the USA it would be called the N2000, or the F80 vs the N80. In this case, the Canon 1000D is the Rebel XS. Maybe Canon thought the name "Rebel" sells better in the USA? In any case, the 1000D/Digital Rebel XS is a 10.1 MP APS-C sized DSLR. It would classify as the low-end of Canon's current camera line-up. New outfits with the 18-55mm EFS IS lens generally sell for around $550 or less. I picked my mint-condition outfit up for $355, including an 8-gig SDHC card. Not bad.

As a long-time Nikon user, and owner of a Nikon D70s and a D40, and at one time having owned a FinePix S2, I am pretty used to the way that Nikon DSLRs work. The Canon isn't too different, overall. Some controls are placed differently, but nothing that could not be figured out pretty quickly by an experienced user. The camera has automatic sensor-cleaning, a variety of shooting modes, 2.5 in LCD monitor, diopter control, and many features that one would expect. Oh yes, it also has Live View -- a feature mostly suited for macro photography, in my opinion.
The lens, an 18-55 EFS with Image Stablization, has been rated as a very good lens elsewhere on the web, and I have no problems with it. The camera will also meter with non-Canon lenses on adapters. So, I actually put a Nikon lens on this, and though I had to focus and set aperture manually, the camera worked in Av mode, which is something my low-end Nikons cannot do.

The 1000D handles very nicely, with the controls pretty logically laid out. The body feels more plasticky than my Nikon D40, more like the Rebel film cameras. But, all that aside, what are the photos like?

I really love b&w, and having had a taste of shooting in b&w with my now-gone Fuji Finepix S2, I was curious how the 1000D/XS handled b&w. I have been shooting B&W with the Nikon D40 (the D70s does not do this), and really liked the results, but they could be more contrasty. The 1000D renders scenes in B&W beautifully.
heavy metal madness
A little vignetting done on the computer.

It's probably on a par with a Nikon D60 in many respects, but better due to the ability to meter with other lenses. If you are in the market for a "beginning DSLR" -- give the Rebel XS a try. I think it combines excellent features at a low price, and the all-black body looks sharper than the silvery bodies of the older low-end Rebels.

More photos...

A Canola field off Pleasant lake Road.

Some stools at Espresso Royale. I like the way the highlight and shadow detail work with this camera.

Pop on a Canon 50mm 1.8 EF lens (as in the photo of the guys with the press cameras), and you have a nice portrait outfit. I need to shoot more with the XS to get a better feel for its capabilities, but so far, it has been a breeze to use, and the image quality has been wonderful. Canon or Nikon? It doesn't matter, really. Edward Weston or Alfred Stieglitz? Now there's a choice one can debate over!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Senior Show, Senior Daughter

Adrienne and I arrived in Marquette Friday morning for a 24-hr visit to see our daughter Marjorie's work at the DeVos Art Museum at NMU. It was the closing of the Senior Show, marking 4 years of college for our daughter. One great thing about art is that there are so many creative people out there, and the Art and Design students at NMU really shine at this event. Photography, mixed media, ceramics, sculpture, video, painting, illustration, and so much more. It's not necessarily a statement of what the student has been working on all the time, but what has been prepared especially for the show.

In Marjorie's case, she became quite interested in photographing dead animals and her "Useless Creatures" project is open-ended. You can read more about her project here. One of the things I like about her work is that she challenges the viewer. Death isn't pretty, but her images DO have an aesthetic about them that demonstrates that dead wildlife are part of the natural scheme of things, and that we should respect them as well. It was interesting watching some of the attendees viewing her work at the VERY packed event. I wish she had left a pad for people to record their feelings. That could have been interesting.

My other thoughts revolve around her graduating as a photography and art major from NMU. Hopefully, she'll be able to apply some of what she learned at NMU in a future job. She's a very talented writer (and knows how to spell), photographer, artist, musician, and knows how to work with databases and library and museum specimens. I have no idea what she will end up doing in the next few months, as she and her partner Stephanie (also a very talented artist!) will be coming to Ann Arbor in August to live. Job offers entertained...

I'm very proud of her, of course.