So this might very well be my last post while shooting with my trusted, resourceful, reliable 350D. Time to say goodbye to my first digital love with a little eulogy and a look back. (Imagine some soppy violins sickly weeping in the background, or possibly the trademark music of Henry Maske’s last fight in the ring against Virgil Hill…) And the opportunity to show my favourite image I ever took with her.
Ok, before you slag me I’ll own up to all the image faults – this was taken a year into my relationship with her. (She was a “she” by the way, because beginners really feel so much more comfortable with forgiving and considerate women *haha*.) The horizon isn’t straight and the image could’ve done with some colour enhancing via PS. Yet I wasn’t quite there yet. I was pretty chuffed I had managed to work out the manual settings. And even more so on this particular occasion while we were
shooting…oooops photographing wildlife on holiday in Namibia.
Prior to the trip I had invested big time in a proper zoom lens. After careful deliberation I had settled on a Canon 75-300mm f4 – 5.6. I remember thinking at the time “My oh my, that is a quarter of my monthly wage I am investing here…” But it was so worth it. Taking pictures of the animals was a joy with the lens – also thanks to image stabilising. I even used it as a replacement binoculars when our other two binoculars were in use by the rest of the gang.
The image of the Oryx above was taken in Etosha National Park. We were driving around in our car, and passed by this beauty. I spotted him through the trees, he was not far away from the gravel road. I had my partner slowly inch the car into the perfect position from where the Oryx appeared framed by the trees. And then I had to quickly set my camera to catch him. Shot at a focal length of 100mm (not that far away, as I said) and at f 4.5 and 1/1000 of a second. ISO 100. I love how the shallow dof blurs out the grass in the foreground and only brings the animal in focus.
Yes, I am a total sucker for blurry backgrounds and shallow depth of field.
The Namibian adventure was my proper honeymoon with 350D. I had bought her about 9 months earlier before we went on a short trip to Shanghai. But while there, I only ever used AV settings, never got my head around the manual settings. Thankfully I had worked that out by the time we were in Namibia! And even though you’ve got to be very quick when photographing wildlife, I persevered with my manual mission and “manipulated” the camera instead of going the easy automatic route. Thanks to my investment in good
glass lenses, taking pictures was really easy and satisfying there. And I increasingly started to see the world around me through the viewfinder. It got to the point where my gang was getting impatient, almost annoyed, with me for continually slowing everyone down because I needed to shoot this or that before we could move on. (A phenomenon, surely, that you, readers, are all familiar with… They just don’t understand us, those photophobes…)
My sweet little 350D can certainly be credited with infecting me with a proper passion for and deep interest in photography. Even before I went back to college to study for a Diploma in Photography (now a BA), I had begun to take her with me wherever I went. I used to lug her to my work in the big purple searchmarketing giant every day, because I didn’t want to be parted from her. Just in case I needed her. The familiar walk back from Clontarf into town (45 minutes every day) was ever changing, ever new – because of her. I even became the inofficial company photographer thanks to her and got deeply involved in the in-house magazine, shooting portraits and illustrations for that. She accompanied me on all holidays far and wide, to hiking excursions in the Wicklow hills, family events. She covered all the big occasions in my family life, recording the big days of my children as they started school, played in concerts and matches, celebrated birthdays and enjoyed their life. And she took me into college where I learnt to use the camera as my tool.
It’s time to retire her. She has done all she can do for me – which was a huge amount. She’ll stay around as back-up (you never know how my soon-to-arrive young lover Mark will do… he could be temperamental? I might not be able to handle him the way I was able to handle her?)
So, byebye, 350D, first love, never forgotten!