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Photography 

 

A while ago I bought an old 35mm Mamiya 1000DTL camera with a 55mm normal lens, and immediately fell in love with photography. This was a great camera to learn with, as it forces you to make all of the decisions. You have to think about things like where your light is coming from, what color it is, and how directional it is. You learn that a flash can be your worst enemy (most of the time) or your best friend, and when to tell the difference. You also learn that according to the desired depth of field, not everything is always in focus in a good photo. I think that anyone who wants to learn photography should do it with and old manual Japanese "heavy metal" camera. I like electronic gadgets just as much as the next guy (actually quite a bit more that the next guy), but I've seen too many really bad photos taken with really expensive automatic cameras by people who think that just because a camera cost a lot, it will automatically take good photos every time. There is no camera out there that is as smart as a human.

Following this philosophy, and due in part to a small budget, I bought an old Pentax Spotmatic II with a set of Takumar SMC normal lenses. Now THAT'S a camera! It is a mechanical marvel. It was built around 1971, and works as smoothly as a swiss timepiece. The takumar lenses will beat the pants off of most modern zoom lenses. Total price tag $150 (including the three lenses).

 

One of the most interesting aspects of photography is the ability to freeze motion. This is done by reducing the interval of time that the film is exposed to light so as to render all motion insignificant. Of course a faster event requires a shorter interval of exposure. One method of decreasing the exposure time is increasing the shutter speed of the camera. Some modern 35mm camera have shutter speeds as fast 1/8,000 of a second. That's pretty fast by human standards, but many events, such as the popping of a balloon require a much shorter exposure. If your shutter were fast enough to catch the action, how many balloons and how many rolls of film do you think you would go through before you hit the shutter release at the right time? You might never get it. To do it right, you must leave the mechanics out and let the electronics do the work. A shutter is physical and has mass and inertia. In most cameras, the shutter starts at rest, and is accelerated across the film plane. A flash, however is electronic and does not suffer from inertia. A run of the mill automatic flash is capable of exposures as short as 1/30,000 of a second. That's fast enough to freeze motion of a balloon ripping open. Also, an electronic flash is very easy to trigger, so that with a simple sensor, an event can be captured reliably. I use a piezo buzzer to trigger the flash in the case of something that makes noise, such as a balloon popping. When I want to catch a moving object as it passes a certain point, I use an infrared emitter and detector. With such a setup, it is simply a matter turning off the lights, opening up the shutter, and waiting for the event to occur, which triggers the flash. It's a simple procedure that gives some amazing results.