Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Different Brand Of Nerdiness

Hurting my back has been a little too scary in terms of having to deal with the thought of not being able to ride for who-knows-how-long due to my body falling apart, and so rather than face my fears I have chosen to throw myself into a new dual obsession that is not quite as physically demanding except maybe at the extremities of the activity.

Yes, photography. And no, this will not become a photo blog any sooner than it will become a swimming blog. But I am smitten with the photog virus and I have been taking classes and devouring books and manuals like there is no tomorrow. To my surprise and delight, the physics and math of photography are just deliciously geeky, but alas, the pure scientist will fail at photography - while the principles must be understood, success is ultimately the domain of the artist. Which is why it's such a monumental challenge for me. And maybe why I am so totally over-my-head into it.

I have no idea where this interest came from, but it has been building for a while and if you follow along, you may remember that I recently acquired both a new higher-end point and shoot Canon S95, along with an amazing integrated iPhone 4s cam. Both are ridiculous in terms of what they deliver in packages their size. And both will be mightily utilized.

But what has become blatantly obvious just a few short steps up the trail of my learning curve is that you can't cheat physics in terms of focal length and sensor size. There's a good reason why DSLR's take way better pictures than point and shoots. Yes, they are cinder blocks to lug around, and I won't always wanna do that. But sometimes I will. Mike Curiak, who documents some of those awesome Alaska journeys that I go on and on about packs SLR gear on his trips, so it's really hard to make the argument that it can't be done.

Just so you don't loose all faith and hope in me as a bike nerd, let me just say that 95% of my interest in photography is about what bikeness I can capture in higher quality than I have been. Most especially, I wanna be able to take some worthy pics on my cross-state tour, if it happens. Later this year, Patty and I have a trip planned to an especially scenic place, so there's also that.

At any rate, I guess that's my long-winded justification for buying yet another camera - an entry level SLR. My current arsenal, then:

The other thing that becomes blatantly, painfully obvious to a photography beginner such as myself is that book learnin's necessary and okay, but that you can't learn to take pictures without lots of hands-on trial and error. I'm particularly big into the error part - you would not even believe the number of total krap pics I take.    Brandy and I went on an extended photo-op walk through Manito today and I quickly trash-canned most of what I brought home, but I did think this one was fun, cigarette butt and all:

Since we were there anyways, we took some time to ponder how awesome of a pump track could exist in this space. It is so profoundly appropriate for that exact purpose. All things in due time.

And speaking of pump tracks, this little one has weathered Winter and is now peeking out at Spring. I just don't have the time or energy to do another full pump track season and so it's days are numbered, but I think a righteous farewell blowout Wood-sesh weekend is in order. Sometime in April, I'm thinking.

Considering what other people have told me about how berms get totally compacted during the winter, I think mine weathered the cold and dark season pretty well. Maybe a testament to all the hours spent by me and gobs of other people manhandling those wicked tampers. Not to say that there isn't any evidence of winter but all in all, damn close to picking up where we left off.

Awful lot of what appear to be dog tracks toward the lower right.

"Wasn't me, boss. Some other dogs must have jumped the fence."

In closing, let me just wish you a happy daylight savings time Sunday. It'll be a bitch getting up tomorrow but on the bright side, daylight until about 7. Hell yes.


Hank Greer said...

I look forward to seeing the keepers, Pat. I imagine they'll come pretty quick if your eye is as good as your wordsmithing.

John Speare said...

Agreed Hank... a great example of Pat's effortless phrase-turning from this post:

"To my surprise and delight, the physics and math of photography are just deliciously geeky, but alas, the pure scientist will fail at photography - while the principles must be understood, success is ultimately the domain of the artist."

Pat S said...

Thanks, guys - coming from the two of you, those comments are particularly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Pictures of bikes are ok but please no speedos! Hope you are riding again soon! Chris

Pat S said...

Chris, I promise. Stick a needle in my eye, hope to die and rest of it. I'm dead serious about this.

Tyler said...

Looking forward to your pics. I love photography, but it is another expensive hobby. Now you will be looking into lenses and dropping thousands of dollars on all that cool stuff. Good luck to you resisting it all! Quick question, what kind of iPhone case is that? It looks like a good one for fellow bike riders to protect their phone somewhat. Thanks

Pat S said...

Tyler, yeah. I'm happy for the moment, but I sense that I'm on a slippery financial slope with this photography business. The iPhone case is this one. I like it because it's nice and "grippy". And basic.

Vik said...

I just rec'd my Canon T2i DSLR to augment my Canon S95 and a couple other basic Canon point and shoot cameras.

I'm hoping the DSLR will allow for MTB action shots deep in BC's gloomy rainforest.

Good luck with the new gear. Enjoy the possibilities.

safe riding,


Pat S said...

Vik, I'd been lurking around on your blog and did notice that you were about to take possession of a T2i - glad that it's now in your hands. It's great for me that we both have the same P&S and DSLR because the pics that show up on your blog will be a really interesting and useful point of reference for me.

As I'm just getting into DSLR and I see from your blog that you've played with them before, I know that we're in different places on the learning curve. But FWIW, I see a few people on your blog commenting about how you should be considering a compact mirrorless this or that. I did a lot of homework on DSLR vs mirrorless and came to the conclusion that given the capabilities, the T2i carried huge bang for the buck for me at this point in my photography development. I guess the reason I mention this is that I know you settled on the T2i for economic (aka airmile) reasons, but that I don't think your selection was a compromise - I paid cash and had the option of lots of different cams. And picked the same one as you.

Vik said...

@Pat - one thing I have no doubt about is that just like bikes at some point you have to be honest with yourself about how much skill you have relative to the equipment you want to buy.

The T2i is a more capable camera than I am a photographer - that's for sure. Given my photographic needs/goals it's unlikely that I will ever get to the point where the camera is holding me back.

I do want a better lens than the kit lens for faster glass so I can do a better job in low light conditions, but beyond that lens I pretty much have to invest the time to learn how to use the capabilities of the T2i capture nice photos.

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the T2i as you get some time with it as well as how you end up using the S95 vs. the DSLR.

Enjoy the new gear...=-)

safe riding,


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