I've taken a look at two of your photos from your website and the
one SW 737 that wasn't accepted. I'll try to be helpful...I'll also
take your questions in order.
I'm not familiar with other cameras out there. What I have works
for me, so I don't know anything about your Pentex ME. Sorry!
I purchased my used camera equipment from National Camera Exchange
in Minneapolis, MN back in June of 1999. The body I
bought is a Pentax K1000. I chose this because it's a camera
that my parents had when I was a kid and I'm already familiar
with camera basics and how to operate it. I also chose this
camera because it is completely manual. It does have a light
meter which is the only function that I don't have to deal with.
I figured that if I did all of the work taking a picture instead of
the camera doing it all for me, it would allow me to better
understand how the settings (aperture, shutter speed, etc...)
affect the photos. It took me a lot of time, film, and money to
learn what settings I should have on my camera depending on
the scene, light, and film I had in my camera. I look at the
photos I took back in June of 1999 and I'm just embarrassed at
them because they weren't very good. I have two primary lenses.
I picked up a Rikenon 70-210mm zoom for $79.95 and a Sears
25-70mm zoom for $59.95. Don't laugh! They are not the best
lenses, but considering what I paid for them and how surprisingly
sharp they are I think I found a great bargain with them! Total I
spent on my camera setup: $319.89. My recommendation:
Using a fixed 50mm is not going to give you good results in most
situations. I concur with Colin that you need to get at least a
70-210mm zoom, other wise your subjects are going to be too
far away. The quality of the lens is very important! Cheap lenses
will yield bad photos. High quality lenses give you the best photos.
Unfortunately when it comes to lenses, it's you get what you pay for.
I tried several different zoom lenses when I bought mine to see what
level of quality I could afford. Most camera stores will let you return
equipment after a period of 10 to 30 days...use that time to use the
lens in all possible conditions. If you don't like what you see, turn in
back in and try another one.
Second, you don't have to be an expert or very experienced to
take good aviation photos. This is something that I've been trying
to drill into people for a long time now. If you have the proper
equipment (it doesn't necessarily have to cost big $$$), can
recognize good photography conditions (weather, sun angle,
distance to subject, etc...) and are using the proper speed film
getting good photos is not hard. I have 593 photos on here
currently, with about 300 more to add from trips just in the past
month. I do not consider myself and expert. I still make mistakes.
I still make BIG mistakes, but I still learn from them everyday on
what to do or not do next time. I still underexpose photos...I
overexpose them too. I ruined a full roll of film of a Delta Air
Lines L-1011 last year. I was able to talk the gate agent to let
me on board early. I shot a lot of photos of the flight deck,
interior, galleys, everything that I could. I got the film back and
that's when I discovered I forgot to change the film speed setting
on my camera (it was set for ASA 100, I was using ASA 400).
I still haven't forgiven myself for doing that.
(Though I may
get another shot at an L-1011 next month!) My point to all of
this is that a person who has taken a lot of photos doesn't make
them an expert. Quality is the more important feature of a photo.
That's why this site is a little strict on what will be added to the
database and what will not be added.
Third, the fact that you do not have a scanner is really hurting
you here. I got a Photo CD ONCE
. The scans
were terrible! There was dirt and debris in the scans and there
was no effort make sure they went into the scanner straight.
I blame this on the fact that the Minnesota job market is doing
too well (we have a lot of morons here working jobs that they
shouldn't be working because they're not qualified but
employers are desperate for them anyway). I can image that
you'd have a better experience elsewhere though. Another
problem using the Photo CD's is that the images are
unprocessed. All images need minors adjustments in the
gamma, color curves/balance, contrast, cropping, etc...!
You have got to have the ability to do this (ie Adobe PhotoShop
or similar) or the images won't look their best. I took your two
photos on your website, the Southwest 737 and the UPS 767
and did some real quick adjustments to them (because of their
size, I couldn't crop or look for potential graininess):
See the differences? My recommendation:
to get a scanner and scan the images yourself and have the
ability to adjust them. I know a scanner is a significant
purchase, but it's something you have to do. If you buy a
Kodak Photo CD every month (and get poor results) for a
year, you will probably spend more money than if you just
bought a scanner. (NOTE: Be aware of the window glare
when you shoot, as seen on the UPS 767 above!)
Fourth, a tripod will help with the crooked photos, but it will
probably be a hindrance more than it is a help. You need
to ability to follow your subject quickly (such as an aircraft
landing), without herky-jerky movements which you cannot
get easily on a tripod. The only thing I use my tripod for
is when I do cockpit photography at night. My photos are
crooked also at times, but they can be easily fixed during
the scanning and cropping process. My recommendation:
Don't worry about the tripod right now. You can rotate any
crooked images when they are scanned (which is another
reason why the Photo CD's aren't working for you right now.)
Fifth, you seem to have the film speed thing worked out. I too
try to stay at or under 100, but sometimes I'll use 200 if I know
ahead of time that the conditions will warrant it. I usually
carry an arsenal of film with a variety of speeds with me when
I travel: 64, 100 (normal use), 200 (hazy, cirrus overcast days
or very close up zoom lens photography), and 800 (night time
cockpit/interior photography). My recommendation:
with 100 speed for now and make sure any photo you take is
with the subject lit with the sun (no high sun angles...shoot in
the morning or evening when the sun angle can light the subject
uniformly) and don't shoot in cloudy conditions or subjects that
have lots of shadows.
Sixth, I strongly agree with Nikonman that you don't attempt
using slide film at this time. While slide film is superior than print
film, it is also more difficult to work with and can be very unforgiving.
I used some Fuji film last month (I think it was Asti? Maybe not...I
just don't remember) that was really tough to use. If you were as
much as a half to full stop off the slides wouldn't turn out well.
I started using slide film in December of 1999 and it took me a
very long time (as well as $$$) to find the film that worked best
for me AND how to take decent photos with the slide film.
Don't worry about using slide film yet.
There's still some room to grow using print film before it would be
advantageous for you to venture into slide film.
There's some other information on my website that you may or
may not be interested in.
to go to it or just find it through the main page here
Finally, if you get anything from this post, please get this: Keep
trying. You seem to be on the right track. Improve upon the
techniques that have been discussed here and in the past and
make some adjustments with the equipment that you use. Your
photos will improve.
Sorry for any typos or grammar mistakes... I welcome any additional questions or comments.
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...