Pianos. Not made like they were…

•November 20, 2007 • Leave a Comment

At my recital, the piano at the church felt a lot different to me than the piano at my teacher’s home.  That is because modern pianos no longer have ivory keys.  This is a shame, because playing the piano, one with ivory keys, is enjoyable.  They are smooth, and it just feels right.  On the other hand, the new pianos are only made with plastic keys.  This lessens the overall experience of playing the piano.  My teacher told me that ivory keys are illegal.  They can no longer produce pianos with these features.  The reason being, is elephant hunting is illegal now-a-days.  I can understand this, but still it is a shame.

New Typing Record Reached!

•November 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This is not that exciting, but it is for me.  I used to be bad at typing, not listening to my computer teacher at school when she tried to help me.  I finally gave in and decided, what the heck, and started to read the pop-up notes the typing program brought up every time I reached a new key.  You have no idea how much this helped.  I used to type so slowly.  I remember when 26wpm was fast, and I was racing to beat my friends.  Now, such and such years later, I am typing 105wpm as my top speed record.

This is the same paragraph over and over again, but every time you make a mistake, you have to type the letter over again and then continue.  This includes spaces as well.  This test is fairly easy, no relatively confusing or complicated words to type.  Still, reaching a speed is all in the typer, not the paragraph their typing.  Now could I hold up this speed for a long amount of time.  I don’t know, I guess it would depend on what I was typing.  My eyes might get tired over time anyway staring at a computer screen.

Piano Recital #1 – November 17, 2007

•November 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Well today, after about two and a half months of playing the piano, I had my first recital at a small church. This church is small, but still, it could accommodate enough people to make me nervous. I have a really bad case of stage fright. I was third to perform in a lineup of seventeen students.

The first performer was outstanding, understandable since he had been playing for six years. Then, my teachers grandson went up. He played really simple songs, but he’s really young and only been playing for two months. Then it was my turn, and I figured, better now (sooner) than later. The more I put it off, the more nervous I would get.

I messed up pretty badly, although I am the biggest critic of myself (psychology, proven fact). I made around five mistakes in my first piece, March Slav by Tchaikovsky. Obviously the crowd didn’t know so that’s good. My next piece was pretty impossible to mess up. The name of the piece is Indian War Dance and is a pretty fun and simple piece. The only thing I messed up on this one was hold the last note for too long. No big deal!

The entire performance was pretty much two hours long. There was lots of talent here, and it was very enjoyable. I would have liked to do better, but I really wasn’t that bad. My mom left saying she was relaxed. There was a lot of peaceful music, but a lot of the pieces were pretty compelling. I saw people with four sheets of paper for one song, and that one song took five or so minutes. Yeah…that’s me (unfortunately) in a few years! Not good!

It was fun and a good experience. I guess it really is good for me to do these things, but if I had a choice, I probably wouldn’t do something like this.

P.S. My opinion probably would’ve changed if I’d had more experience performing in front of people. The piano is a very complicated thing, with four to six different things going on in the same song at the same time, and your brain has to assimilate all this and put it together into a captivating piece of music. All this and I’ve only been playing for two months! I’d hate to see how much is going on in my head two years from now! Sure, the notes are right in front of you, but that doesn’t really matter. I forgot my song when I got up there to tell the truth! That is how nervous I was.

Joshua’s Camera Bag…

•November 15, 2007 • 1 Comment

First off, my bag is a Tamrac Velocity 9x.  This bag is pretty nice, is very compact, and has a single shoulder sling.

Items in bag:

-Nikon D50

-Nikkor 70-300mm lens

-Nikkor 18-55mm lens

-Lensbaby 3G lens

-Miscellaneous Items…

Nikon D50-

This is a beginner’s digital SLR camera and I would highly recommend it.  It has a 6 megapixel sensor, which doesn’t sound like much, but you can get a lot of good things out of it.  I like that you can put any Nikkor lens on this camera, and it will accept it (I’m not totally sure about the older film ones though, I think you can).  With some of the Canon models I hear you can’t put all the lenses on them.

All the buttons are in the right places for me, although there is room for improvement.  I like the setup of the D200 or D300 much better.  The thing I like about the D50 versus other SLR’s (take some of Olympus’ for example), is that it has buttons for each of the major functions.   For example, one button will have two functions.  One is for when the LCD is activated, and the other is used to set information like White Blance, ISO, Quality, while the LCD is off.  This I find to be very useful.  There is no back-lit display on the D50, but most information can be seen in the viewfinder.

The camera has 5 focus points.  It has AF-A, AF-S, and AF-C.  I usually keep it on AF-S.  It also sports Single Area, Dynamic Area, and Closest Subject Autofocus Area Modes.  I keep this on Dynamic.  Because this camera uses SD (secure digital) cards, it has the ability to lock each photo on the memory card.  This makes sure that you never lose images you lock.

Nikkor 70-300mm F/4-5.6

This lens doesn’t have the best aperture, but you can still blur the background when focusing on a foreground subject or item.   This lens is what was glued to my camera at Yellowstone National Park this summer.  It was useful in getting really close to the animals from a safe distance.  That is what I used for the bear shots I got.  There was no need for a tripod most of the time when hand-holding, but I did noticed that not all of my photos were as sharp as they could have been if I had used a tripod.  With the conversion factor this lens is equivalent to about a 112-480, I think (assuming the conversion factor is 1.6x).  This lens was the less-expensive version, so a step down from the VR model.  It was also supplied with a lens hood, that I happened to misplace.  I got a new one free from the store we bought it at.

Nikkor18-55mm F/3.6-5.6

I am actually very happy with my camera’s kit lens.  The only time I have ever noticed chromatic abberation is in one photograph I took.  It completely ruined the photo, but that only happened once that I’m aware of.  This lens can be pretty sharp too.  It focuses way better in the night than my telephoto zoom.  The depth of field is pretty good on this lens.  You don’t get that dreamy sort of focus like you do with prime lenses though.  It blurs the background nicely wide open though.  The manual focus ring could be way better on this lens.  It is located at the very end of the lens barrel and can be quite cumbersome.

Lensbaby 3G (varied manual aperture rings)

This lens is wonderful.  I have not had many chances to work with it, but I have enjoyed it the times I did.  This lens has magnets on the inside that will hold the aperture rings in place.  you just need to drop them in and you’re ready to shoot.  Without any aperture rings inside it has a wide open aperture of about 2.0.

This is a selective focus lens, which means you can bend the lens to blur different parts of the image, while keeping one spot always in focus.  For example if you turn it right, it will add an extreme blur to the left side of your photograph.  The smaller the aperture, the smaller the blurred area.  The middle of this blurred area is always sharp though.  Again, size of sharp area varies between apertures.

The big thing with this lens is that you can lock it in place to get repeatable results.  Once locked in place, you can then adjust the  screws on the end of the lens, which moves the “sweet spot” (sharp area) around in the photograph.  This was a big concern in the professional industry, and could be useful.  I mentioned professionals, but this lens is very accessible to consumers as well with a pretty low price range for a unique lens, and compared to any other lens for that matter.  I highly recommend this lens.

Miscellaneous Items

These items include a lens cleaning cloth, extra memory card, and lots of other junk.  I will sometimes put in my battery charger if I’m going on vacation.

Well that’s all that is in my bag for now.  I hope you enjoyed this post!

My new blog.

•November 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I have decided to make an entirely new blog showcasing my photography and my opinions on gear and things like that. I have other blogs but they are all tied up on email addresses that don’t exist and so it’s a bad situation. I decided to make this blog on an email address that I actually have, so that if I for some reason forget my password or log-in information, I can always retrieve it. Anyway, I hope to be posting frequently and I hope that you guys like my blog!