Friday, November 23, 2012

Upgrading photography gear

I've spent the last month or so, wrapping my head around DSLR technology, and trying to balance my budget with the quality of lenses, cameras, accessories and functionality.

It's been at times frustrating, partly because there are so many choices to make, and also because the reviews of cameras and lenses are not necessarily similar between different photographers.

I knew I wanted to go Canon - they have excellent image stabilisation, and that's one thing I do need, especially with a heavier camera and lenses.

Camera body

I chose the DSLR camera body based on how it fit in my hand. Originally, I'd toyed with the idea of upgrading to a new Powershot with IS and a large zoom. But I mashed the buttons with the base of my thumb, plus it couldn't easily shoot raw.

The 7D and larger, older models were too heavy, and a little too expensive - I wanted to spend the most on quality lenses. The new-ish 650D fit my hand beautifully, and wasn't too heavy, at least with the lighter lenses on it.


Luckily, I know my photography style, which helped in choosing the right lenses for me. I also wanted to only get EF lenses, in case I upgrade to a full-frame body in a few years or so.

Macro was a no-brainer - I love my macro flower photography. The 100mm IS L lens is the only Canon macro lens with image stabilisation. This wasn't a difficult decision.

I also love shooting wildlife, pushing my zoom on my point and shoot to its limits. The 70-300mm IS L won over the 70-200mm IS L, purely because of the extra 100mm of zoom.

I'd love to get a wide angle lens, but the 650D is a crop sensor. Most of the 'wide angle' lenses, become standard lenses if they aren't used on full frame camera. Plus, I have a gap in my range for portraits -- the 70mm/100mm can be used, but I'd have to be on the other side of the room.

Canon has just announced (at the beginning of November) a new 24-70mm F/4 IS lens, which fills my 'standard zoom' gap almost perfectly! I'm impatient for it to be released and tested by pro photographers.

Then the accessories, which have proven to be the most headache-causing and nightmare-causing choices.


I knew I wanted a polarizer, but wasn't sure about UV or clear filters, purely for protection purposes, until I thought I had a scratch on my new 100mm lens. I chose the B+W nano filters because of their super coating, plus they are available here.


this one has me stumped. I like the messenger style, if it isn't too heavy. Backpacks are great for hiking. But I want to be able to carry my camera every day, along with my purse, glasses and other little things.

Other accessories that I'm not yet sold on
  • I bought a hand-strap, and while it certainly helps prevent hand fatigue, I'm not happy with its quality.
  • I haven't yet decided on a tripod/monopod. I want carbon for its lightness, and a ball-head mount for its flexibility. But the prices have put me off for the moment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On writing

When people ask me what I do, I usually mumble in a rambling fashion, something about education, writing, translating, editing, training, teaching or some combination of these. Often the writing part is pushed aside as an interest, a hobby.

I have never stated clearly that I am a writer.  Even when I worked as a technical writer, I never really considered myself a 'writer'.

Yet writing is a huge component of my work. Training material, assessments, procedure and policy documents, research papers, websites, online help, handouts, booklets, software test reports, and so much more in many fields, from highly technical, medical, business, and educational from children to adults.

From today onwards, I'm not going to mumble or ramble. I'm not going to blather or push it aside as a hobby.

I am a writer and I am a teacher, plus I'm very flexible with the topics I write about or teach.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Slow progress

Celtic seasons

I feel I've managed to move a little on many fronts. I've been stagnant for a long time, just trying to keep my head above water as I adjust to new circumstances.
  • I've framed the first of several finished cross stitch projects - Celtic Seasons looks great (albeit strange) on the hall wall.
  • My first kimono is now displayed, although it still needs clips to keep the panels open properly. It's amazingly long, almost floor to ceiling in this apartment!
  • I'm writing like crazy, however a little too slowly. I received a comment recently that I used backspace far too much - I let my fingers type before my brain has decided exactly how to phrase. It's certainly not a time-effective way to work.
  • I've caught up (mostly) with packages and letters, but email is lagging far behind. I'm not even looking into my newsreader.
  • I've won a few more competitions (mostly for shampoo/body wash and the like, or e-books), even though I enter these things sporadically.
  • Learned Words is up, but is only a fledgling at the moment, until I can decide on how to run with it in the long term. I think I'd like to shift the education/training/language articles and blog posts there, but my time is largely spoken for at the moment.
  • My English courses are popular (with waiting lists), even though other English courses had to be closed due to lack of interest. I'd like to move these to an afternoon time slot, but most of the students work/study during the day. Evening classes are tough to teach, and even harder to sleep soundly afterwards. The students have complained that my English has become more difficult after I started writing, so I must watch my language more carefully in class.
  • I passed the language exam with flying colours, but am forgetting what I learned all too quickly. I'd love to attend the next level, but the non-intensive course clashes with my evening classes. I can understand a lot now (hearing and reading), but don't speak enough. Apparently I write mostly like an English speaker, understandable, but with mangled or awkward grammar.
Focus: daily stretching
Drunk: Irish breakfast tea