September 23rd, 2007

photography

Doing it in the raw

As I have come into a bit of cash unexpectedly, I'm edging much closer to buying that Canon 40D SLR I'm craving. gerardp and I did a bit of camera shopping yesterday, and Best Buy had one in stock. It didn't have a lens attached, but I could still hold it and get a feel for the layout and see how heavy the body alone is. I think I will have to dust off my dumbbells in order to carry it around with the lens I want. Maybe by the time I can afford or get around to renting a longer telephoto, I'll be buff enough to hold it...

So I'm also looking at image management software, as I've outgrown iPhoto and the changes in the new version don't look all that appealing. I was assuming I'd use Apple's Aperture, but it doesn't support the RAW files from my Panasonic FZ50 yet though it's a popular model that has been out for some time, so no telling how long Apple will take to support the brand-new 40D. Adobe, on the other hand, has already upgraded all of its products to support that model. So I downloaded 30 day trials of both Adobe Lightroom and Aperture.

Lightroom's interface took a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it I found it fairly intuitive. I was able to tweak the white and color balance of my raw photos, comparing side-by-side with the unaltered image, which was handy. Aperture I haven't really done anything with yet since it wouldn't read my raw files, but I suppose I could try it on some JPEGs.

My test roll came from a concert I attended last night at The Saloon, a blues joint in North Beach that is supposedly the oldest bar in the city. I'd been there once before, with Mike, to see Johnny Nitro and one of his Blue Bear student bands. Last night was another Blue Bear teacher, Jim Peterson, playing sax sideman to Curtis Lawson. Great stuff - really got the crowd dancing. It was too dark to get many good shots, and shooting in raw meant a longer shot-to-shot delay than I'm used to. But I still managed a few grainy pix. It was great to chat with Jim regardless, as I'd taken two jazz workshops with him.

Curtis's wife (or companion) was shooting with a pocketcam, and when she saw me also shooting (I had asked Jim first if it was OK) asked if she could get copies of my photos. I gave her one of my Minimoo cards with my e-mail address. She asked later if I could get a full shot of the band. This was difficult due to the layout of the room, the crowd, and, again, the lighting. I did take a couple with flash, but they looked horrible so I didn't upload them. I'll have to try again to learn to use the external one lrc gave me, or just order a new one when I get the new cam. I felt bad that I couldn't get better shots for them. Even with the 40D, the lens I want won't go wider than f/2.8, and my cam was complaining at that setting in this club. I think that's the best I'll be able to do with a zoom lens though, at least one I can reasonably afford.