I have always loved taking photos; on a regular holiday I usually take a couple of hundred and there are always a few that I am really happy with. My camera of choice used to be a Panasonic Lumix because of its massive optical zoom. The current one has a 12x optical zoom and 10MP, and it served me well.
Eventually I wondered how I could improve. Until recently, I would take a photo when I saw something I thought looked great. If I have “the eye” or something like that, I don’t know – really, I just do what I feel looks good and it works for me. Naturally, that doesn’t mean one doesn’t want to get better.
The logical next step for me was to get properly into GIMP. It’s powerful, it’s free, what more could you ask? I got a book and worked my way through it, then one with special effects and tried those on existing photos as well. Now there was quite a lot I could DO with a photo, there was still a lingering thought whether my photos couldn’t get any better.
At first I was sceptical if I could become a better photographer, especially because of all those “rules” there are out there. To this day, I’m still ignorant of the golden ratio, so if my photos fit it, it’s merely coincidence. So the decision was easy, go for a better camera. This time, I was going to take the leap to SLR, even though it intimidated me when it arrived (I even used the manual to put it together).
My choice was a Nikon D3200, which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and comes with 24MP, which was important to me. I like getting photos developed, especially as posters, so the pixel count is important to me.
I got it as a set with the AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm VR lens, which has been very satisfying zoom-wise for me so far. That doesn’t mean I’m not already eyeing a 55-200mm lens, but not just yet. With the camera itself I got a SanDisk 32GB SD Card, so I could use my old 16GB as backup, and a Banana Hammock from Crumpler. The bag holds the camera with a zoom lens, and you can fit a few bits and pieces in the back. Like a cleaning cloth, extra SD cards and an extra battery.
Still being immensely intimidated by all the things I knew nothing about, my dear friend Odin took it upon himself to give me a crash course in SLR cameras. In one afternoon I learned the basics about ISO, aperture and shutter, but also why you should never judge the photo on the display, manual focus and why the auto setting on the camera is lame. As usual, he was right. If you know how to do it manually (even though it takes longer), auto is just less satisfying.
With that, we went to Salzburg for the weekend, where I could get a feeling for the camera and practice, practice, practice. I wanted to be prepared for the wedding and honeymoon and also figure out what else I’d need for the camera. It was going well enough that I’ll probably only take my old camera with me for emergency backup.
Back home, I knew there were a few more things I needed. A second lens could wait, but I needed filters and a lens hood. I went with a set of filters from Polaroid, which includes a UV and a POL filter, and two colour filters I have yet to find a use for as well as a Nikon lens hood. There was really only one thing left I needed for the holiday – a second battery. Here, I was more than impressed just how much the prices differ between shops and Amazon – over 53€ instead of 79€? Not sure how that makes sense, but that’s how I got my Nikon EN-EL14 battery.
A very sunny Sunday was the perfect opportunity to put the UV filter to good use. It is always exciting to go on a photo safari in your own home town – you just look at it differently, and it makes you look like a tourist. Having Mick with me also gave me the chance to experiment with portrait shots – since I could use him as my model. I’ll also stick a few photos at the end from the Sunday out and about in Vienna – only the one of Mick has been edited afterwards. I am very curious how long it’ll take until I give into the temptation of a second lens, but so far I am very happy with having taken the leap to SLR.
You can find more of my pics on Flickr.