My Last Shots of Seattle

As you can see, my camera was slightly wobbly when I shot that view of the Space Needle. I have since learned how to stabilize, use the ISO, etc. to shoot more effectively in the dark.

Below are a few of the last shots I took before flying off to Thailand.

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Walking Around in Seattle in Vibrams in the Sun

I loved my Vibrams, and I still do, but don’t walk around paved streets in them. They are great for hiking, yoga, and even swimming, but if you walk more than a few miles, you can really hurt your feet. I made the mistake of walking from Queen Anne to the International District one day, and paid for it.

But I did get some good pictures.

110728_0090My working method was based on whatever digital photo book for dummies book I was reading at the time. Essentially it involved lots of experimentation with the aperture value and the shutter speed; I was revolted by the idea of putting my camera on fully automatic. Automatic mode? Like, WTF, seriously?

I had come across a video series that covered using Adobe Bridge’s Camera RAW, and the teacher’s mantra was: “Camera RAW for global adjustments and Photoshop for local adjustments.” Most photos I took in late 2011 were adjusted primarily in Camera RAW, using typical adjustments I tend to favor, such as: high contrast and bumped saturation.

Since I’m not a photographer by profession, and since I have lots of other ways I like to spend my time, I tend to follow this advice. I’m much more competent with Photoshop than your average Joe, but, man, some of those pros can do some really amazing things with that program.


Enter the DSLR

IMG_0058_1 (2)I got my Canon 60D in the middle of July, 2011, just before my trip to Thailand.

I bought my first kit in a camera store in Seattle, though the same package is still available on Amazon for almost the same price.My kit included the body and the 18-200mm lens. The store had a 2-year warranty that covered anything and everything, but fortunately I never had to use it.

A guy I would later meet in Thailand said that he had a similar warranty that he did have to make use of: he had a longer lens and was letting it just hang around his neck by the strap. I’m sure you can guess what happened to the strap and the camera.

Even before meeting that guy I’ve never had the nerve to let a $1100 camera hang by its strap alone. I always loop the strap around my neck and keep it nestled snugly inside my Tamrac bag. I can’t find the exact model I bought on Amazon, but it’s very similar to this one.

In addition to an extra battery, some cleaning supplies, a UV guard, and an extra memory card, I bought a Slik travel tripod, which is I’ve always been very happy with.

Fumbling Around with my New Canon

I was blown away by the camera's ability to shoot in such dim lighting

I was blown away by the camera’s ability to shoot in such dim lighting

When I bought the Canon 60D, I was already the proud owner of a Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera, which is great for shooting video, but crappy for shooting snapshots — it’s not really supposed to shoot photos anyway.

I had begun screwing around with Photoshop, and somehow managed to make some pretty cool effects, but the major problem with trying to Photoshop non-DSLR images is that the files aren’t in RAW format. Usually they are in JPG format, which doesn’t handle new Photoshop effects very well at all.

At the time, I was quite short-sighted, and for the first couple months, I didn’t preserve my RAW files after editing them. This is a big mistake. Don’t delete your RAW files, ever, under any circumstances. Disk space is cheap. If you run out of space, buy a new hard drive.

Fortunately, I didn’t take any masterful shots during my early days of shooting.