2012-08-12 – Perseids, I hope…

Around this time of the year, the Perseids meteor shower hits the earth at its peak intensity.  While it would have been nice to see more cosmic debris, if not GET it on camera, I can not say that the results I got were complete failures.  And, at least I know how to locate Cassiopeia next time around :-).

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That’s a plane, FYI.

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Screen saver, yes?

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I think this is one?
PS: Do you see Cassiopeia, the W-looking constellation?

Some Lessons from Myrtle Beach

  1. Golf is not an easy sport: it requires A LOT of patience to fully understand the basic fundamentals.
  2. A trip to the South requires an obligatory visit to one of the following: Chick Fil’A and/or Waffle House.
  3. Raccoon squirrels are deadly: not only do they like to eat food scraps, but they also enjoy chewing up Longchamp bags.  Ask my Mom…
  4. The TSA agents [and airport personnel for that matter] at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) were some of the friendliest I have ever encountered, something that corroborates my experience with TSA agents and airport staff at Raleigh-Durham (RDU) in North Carolina.  I suppose it partially has to do with the Southern Hospitality [and not being in a New York City area airport too].
  5. While the experience did not totally stink, Spirit Airlines still leaves a lot to be desired [like no complementary snacks and beverages].  Oh, and all those fees…
    1. As my Dad pointed out, it would have been a better idea to fly out from Islip-MacArthur to Charleston via Southwest.
  6. As much as I hate LaGuardia Airport (LGA), this trip reminded me how the views of New York City proper you can get leaving and/or approaching the airport are untouchable.
  7. I need to take more pictures…

Photography Pains

As much as I like photography, I also hate it, especially when things break.  For example:

  • In the past three years, I had two Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lenses break on me for the same reason: a zoom barrel design flaw that resulted in my being unable to rotate the zoom ring due to a loose screw.  Both times, I unsuccessfully attempted a manual repair, only to destroy them beyond hope.
  • Of late, my first good Canon EF mount lens, the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical, has developed a worn flex cable.  In other words, I get the dreaded Err99 every 60-100 shots or so.  If only I had known about Tamron’s spotty quality control…
  • Lastly, my Canon EOS 20D needed its shutter release mechanism replaced, which thankfully is an easy fix if you know how to solder and willing to open up what effectively is a fancy computer.

Worst of all, the money I lost on those three subpar zoom lenses (~$1100) could have been used to get something of significantly higher quality [like the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM].  It goes to show you get what you pay for.

On a related note, a friend asked me yesterday which camera, namely a dSLR, is a good one to invest in as a gateway into photography.  I implore you all to do the following:

  • Buy a used dSLR and/or one that is within your means.  A new Canon EOS 60D without a lens will set you back $900, whereas a used Canon Rebel XSi [which I think has one of the better Canon APS-C sensors made to date] with a kit lens can be had for less than $400.
  • If you want an affordable lens of good quality, go for a fixed focal length prime lens.  Consider how for the price of a Canon EF-S 17-85mm, you can get a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that has significantly better optics and is not prone to zoom barrel design flaws.
  • Use the damn camera, and if necessary, learn how to take better pictures.  After all, what good is an expensive tool if you cannot properly utilize it?

Which reminds me: I really should get around to teaching my parents how to master a dSLR, especially if they plan on taking many pictures during their travels.