Photographic Equipment
In pretending to be a REAL photographer, I thought it worthwhile to post a couple of images of the equipment use to take the photos on this site.

As previously mentioned, the Canon Rebel XT DSLR was purchased in July, 2006. I've been using the "kit lens", which is an EF-S 18-55mm f3.5/5.6. Quality-wise, this is a great improvement over the Fuji (which did surprisingly well for a fixed-lens camera). I have found, however, that the 55mm maximum does not really provide a sufficiently long zoom capability, so I've ordered an EF 28-135mm f3.5/5.6 IS USM lens.

The "IS" stands for Image Stabilizer. It has a little gyroscope inside the lens to help me get sharp images with my wobbly old hands. The only problem is that the little gyroscope takes quite a bit of battery power. I've had to compensate by also ordering the BG-E3 battery grip, which allows use of 6 AA NiMH cells. It will make the whole thing a little heavier, but we'll see how well it handles.

You can see from the photos that I also got a Speedlite 580 EX flash unit for the camera, and two 2GByte memory cards. The memory cards allows me to take about 440 images in "camera raw" format. The Speedlite allows me to project light much futher than the built-in flash, using a separate set of 4 AA cells, so I don't wear down the camera battery. It also provides a short pre-flash, specifically to improve autofocusing in low-light conditions.

July 8, 2006 - New Canon Rebel XT and Speedlite Flash Unit
January 8, 2007 - New Lenses
Now I need to develop photographic skills that allow me to take full advantage of this equipment.
Well, as you can see, I've recieved the EF 28-135mm f3.5/5.6 IS USM lens that I mentioned below. It's the one in the middle in the photo at left. It's a huge "chunk of glass" for me, and by far the best lens I've ever used. A real photographer, however, would probably refer to it as "a good 'walking around' lens".

The smaller lens at the far right is the "kit lens" that comes standard with the Rebel XT and the new Rebel XTi. It's an EF-S 18-55mm F3.5/5.6 USM lens. The EF-S lenses can ony be used with certain popular EOS cameras, but they're very light and inexpensive. The fact that this only zoomed to 55mm was disappointing at the Pickle wedding. That was part of the reason I needed the somewhat greater zoom range of the larger lens.

Finally, I just received an EF 100mm F2.8 Macro USM lens. It's the taller one on the left of the upper photo. The gold band near the front of the two new lenses mean they're "upper range hobbyist". Professional lenses have a red band instead of the gold one and a MUCH heftier price tag. This is a "Macro" lens, meaning the optical arrangement is a little different than standard lenses. This type of lens can be used for very close-up photography, but the short depth-of-field makes for some very nice portrait shots, too. The photo of Paul and Jeannie in Kid Stuff was taken with this lens. The F2.8 makes this the "fastest" lens I have, but I'm still getting used to the fixed focal length (no zoom)

The middle photo shows the EF 28-135mm f3.5/5.6 IS USM lens mounted on the Rebel XT, with the other two lenses in the foreground. The bottom photo shows that adding the lens hood to the big guy make it look humongous.

June 27, 2007 - Wide Angle Lens
Well, I did it again, so if you're into photography, you can really drool. Since Matt & Coral's wedding is coming up in December, and since we have the Pellegrinetti Picnic, the Stiglianese Picnic, AND the Cosgrove reunion this summer, I sprang for a wide angle lens to capture those "group" photos.

It is a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, considered an "ultra-wide" angle... but not a fisheye. That means it's very wide angle, but doesn't appear that you're looking out of a bubble. This is a brand new product just out from Canon and Meg hasn't seen the cost yet!

You can see the red band around the lens in the upper right photo. That means that it's a professional quality lens... my first. In the middle right photo you can see that it's even bigger than the EF 28-135mm f3.5/5.6 IS USM, which I thought seemed humongous. It's also my only zoom lens to go down to f/2.8.

In the lower left you can see how these two kind of dwarf the "kit" lens, while the lower right shows the 3 good lenses I've purchased, including the EF 100mm F2.8 Macro USM lens.
"Okay, but what good are these different lenses?", you ask. The macro lens is used for very close up shots and sometimes for portraits. The photos of flowers and bugs, shown in the Around the House section, were taken with the macro lens. It isn't possible to get that type of photo without such a special lens. A "single lens reflex" camera (SLR) is the only type that is designed for the use of different lenses, so that's what is required to take this type of photo.

This afternoon I noticed that Meg had picked a couple of her lillies and put them in a vase in the family room. They looked like they were pleading to have their picture taken, so I grabbed the camera and attached the EF 100mm F2.8 Macro USM lens, then mounted everything on the tripod to take the photos below. I wanted to experiment with depth-of-field, so I put the camera in aperture priority (Av) mode. In this mode, I set the aperture and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to compensate. I also adjusted the ISO setting to 400, so I could get reasonable shutter speeds using just the natural light coming in the front window.

The photo on the left had a wide aperture, the full f2.8 of which the lens is capable. The camera picked a shutter speed about 1/20th second, so I probably could've gotten this holding it in my hand. The depth-of-field is very shallow, though. The rug, the table, the vase, and even the further edges of the petals are blurry.

In the photo on the right, I stopped the aperture all the way down to f22, and ended up with a shutter open time of about 5 seconds. Even the rug is almost in focus here. This would've been all blurry without the tripod, though. The middle photo used an aperture around f11 and gave me a shutter speed just about 1 second. This has a bit more blurry carpet, but I think it accentuates the colored design on the vase, and I like it the best.

Now look at the photos of our house below. The one on the left is taken at 35mm from the middle of the street out front. It's typical of what you would see from the street. Notice the two large trees, the size of the bench and the small oak in the lower right. The middle photo is taken at 28mm from a bit closer. The two trees are a little further apart, the bench looks bigger, and the small oak is too far off to the right to be in the photo, but the house still fills the shot from left to right. Finally look at the photo on the right. This is taken at the widest angle of my new lens, 16mm. The house is still the same size, but the large trees now frame the photo. The bench is behind me. I can assure you that neither of the trees nor the house moved throughout this sequence. I moved though... and used a special lens!
After playing with these settings, I thought I'd take a nice, artsy shot of the entire vase in the natural light coming in the window.