Photo Friday: The New Camera Edition

My new camera deserves a better operator.
Photo: Row of glass insulators
ISO 100, f/5, 1/200; Canon 70-200mm zoom @ 70mm; JPG derived from RAW image

I’m pretty sure this won’t actually be posted on Friday due to my procrastination, but I typed this sentence on a Friday so it counts. (I’m sure there’s a sports metaphor that applies, but all I can think of is the pitching of horseshoes and I’m not confident that that’s a legitimate sport. The NHPA will surely disagree.)

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that I have a new camera. It’s a Canon EOS 90D, and it replaces my Canon Digital Rebel XT that died almost two years ago (you can read about the necropsy I performed on that deceased model here). I owned and used the latter camera for more that fifteen years, and its eight megapixel capabilities served me well, even if they were woefully underpowered for ten of those years.

The new camera is a 32.5 megapixel workhorse, an APS-C DSLR (if you know, you know; if you don’t, it’s not important) that’s sort of in the midrange of Canon’s offerings, price wise. I think it’s billed as a “prosumer” model, which is marketing-speak for something that makes me think I’m more skilled than I really am. It was an easy decision to stick with Canon because over the years I’ve accumulated a pretty decent collection of lenses that are compatible with the new camera.

I do know that the camera has capabilities far beyond what I’ll ever need (and many of them beyond my understanding). I mean, the user guide is 646 pages, although it’s also quite readable.

All of that is simply to provide a little context to what follows. I’ve had the new camera for a couple of months, but haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use it. The warmer months seem to provide more interesting photographic fodder. But I thought I’d share a few of the pictures that I’ve managed to take while trying to learn how to use some of the camera’s capabilities. I hope you find some of these photos interesting.

Photo: Closeup of an anthurium bloom
ISO 100, f/16, 1/60; Canon 100mm macro

I think this is the first photo I took with the new camera. It’s a closeup of anthurium bloom.

Photo: An almost full moon
ISO 100, f/11, 1/125; 70-200mm Canon zoom @ 200mm

This may look like a full moon, but it’s not; I took this photo the night following the full moon. I’ve never been able to get decent photos of the moon, partly due to not having a good camera but mainly because I didn’t know the right settings. The moon is brighter than you might think, and it’s easy to overexpose a photo — or at least, it was for me. Once I figured out how to adjust the relevant settings in the new camera’s manual mode, this photo was the result.

Photo: Small piece of quartzite embedded in granite
ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/320; Canon 100mm macro

Debbie and I walked through the woods bordering our neighborhood looking for deer shed. We found none, but I did take a few photos, including this piece of quartzite embedded in the ground, looking like the last vestiges of ice on a warm winter day.

Photo: Highly processed black and white photo of a woman holding a deer skull
ISO 100, f/5, 1/500; Canon 100mm macro; much post-processing, obviously

Speaking of Debbie, did I mention that she’s trying out for a Texas version of Hamlet? JK. For some reason, she was inordinately proud of this whitetail deer skull, which now resides on my workbench in the garage. Don’t ask me why, ’cause I don’t know.

Photo: Phallic-looking cactus
ISO 100, f/4, 1/320; Canon 100mm macro

Yes, it’s a cactus…a very proud cactus.

ISO 100, f/4, 1/160; Canon 70-200mm zoom @ 168mm

I actually had the wrong lens on the camera for this photo of a Texas spiny lizard resting on a wall of our front porch. I’ve included it as an example of how a camera’s automatic settings don’t always work out.

Photo of the sun
ISO 100, f/11, 1/125; Canon 70-200mm zoom @ 200mm; Tiffen 18-stop ND filter

OK, so some of you may have possibly heard something about an upcoming solar eclipse. It’s getting a fair bit of media coverage in these parts, given that we’re smack dab in the middle of the Path of Totality. And I have good intentions of trying to photograph that phenomenon.

I took the preceding photograph shortly after noon today. I mounted the new camera on a tripod, with my longest lens (70-200mm zoom) attached. The most significant part of the setup is the Tiffen “solar filter” which allows the camera to capture an image of the sun without destroying the innards (not to mention my eyeballs, which I’ve grown fond of over the years).

I took a series of photos using different settings (ISO, f-stop, shutter speed) and I think this one turned out the best. I did do some post-processing in Affinity Photo 2 (my Photoshop replacement) to sharpen the image a bit, but this is pretty much how the picture came out of the camera.

The hardest part of the picture-taking was actually finding the sun without, you know, looking at the sun. We’re warned against looking through the optical viewfinder even with the solar filter in place, so I used the Live View feature of the camera (a fancy term referring to the fold-out LCD screen) and eventually got the sun to appear on the screen by using my shadow to approximate the position in the sky. Once I got the sun’s image in the center of the LCD screen, I locked everything down on the tripod and started taking photos. I’ll be using a remote shutter control when the actual event rolls around which should result in an even sharper photo.

I’m quite happy with the new camera, even though I’m far from mastering it. I’m looking forward to getting some really good subjects for macro photography, and likewise for wildlife photos with the long lens when the weather warms up and the critters show up.

Here’s the thing, though. As good as the new camera is…the best camera is the one you have with you. And as evidence, in closing, I offer the following photo that Debbie took this evening with her iPhone 12 through the windshield of our car as we were returning from an very good Thai meal at a local restaurant. Might my Canon have done a better job? Perhaps, but it wasn’t the camera we had with us…and in this specific case, the iPhone was well up to the task.

ISO ?, f/1.6, 1/173, 4.2mm iPhone 12 lens

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