ok, tad, you win…

…this camera has made me a better photographer:

For those of you who don’t understand the title…my friend (and cow-orker) Tad has been on me about the camera I’ve been slinging the last two years: my beloved Canon EOS Rebel (given to me by my beloved back in August of 2006).

He’s a Nikon nut, and he’s been insisting that my shooting was being hampered by the Canon–“That viewfinder’s terrible, no wonder you have trouble focusing!” He keeps pointing at the D90 or the D300 or the D700, and the 18-200 telephoto zoom lens. (“A great walking around lens.”)

Knowing that we were headed up to L.A. this weekend, Tad put the full-court press on me, finding every reason to wander by Nelson Photo and to talk about the cameras. He noted repeatedly how much I wasn’t shooting.?? He sent me reviews by all manner of camerafreaks–these super-technical shooters always make me feel mawpish and stupid, because I still don’t really “get” most of the fundamentals, but I learn more every time I shoot, so I think I’m making progress–and repeatedly noting “You should go to George’s and rent it for the weekend.”

Of course, to take $3000 in camera gear away for a couple days requires a buying deposit, which is what credit cards are for, except I don’t carry any credit, so renting wasn’t going to happen.

This either shocked or irritated Tad, and he showed up on Friday with his own D300 and 18-200 lens in hand with a bunch of other accoutrements like a shoe flash and GPS. “I’m not doing anything photogenic this weekend,” he declared, and sent me packing with a couple books and a big fucking camera.

Unfortunately, work was far too much of a distraction from the actual break I was supposed to be taking, so I never really got the energy to read up on the camera. Instead, I just started shooting, treating it pretty much like a point and shoot.

And this is what I got:

(Those of you who’ve been here a while will remember the above shot from the last time we’d gone to Santa Monica Pier.)

So, today was a very strange day for light. Yesterday’s fires have settled into today’s foul air quality, leaving the 11am sun a deep orange. The cars were covered in ash, and the air was tacky. The band of available light was largely yellowish and red, and yet the camera still pulled a lot of awesome colors out of almost nothing.

Another reason we were in Santa Monica was so that Sunshine could get in some swinging at TSNY Los Angeles, a trapeze rig right on Santa Monica Pier. When we got there, she had to do some paperwork, so I took the opportunity to run down to the end of the pier and see if there was anything worth shooting.

Right as I got to the end, these two popped out:

I’ll remind you that I’m swinging this camera for the second day ever, and largely like a tourist, with no tweaking or adjustments beyond composition. Check out the detail pulled off the dolphins:

You can see the sun glinting off their skin. I’m really happy with that fact. (And I wish I had a rig this good when I was in Alaska.)

I went from there, back to the trapeze school, and spent the afternoon putting the camera through every tedious focusing challenge I could think of, and it handled it all really well. Hands-down, this camera made my photography better this weekend.

Here’s one of Sunshine catching a split:

The weekend was a blast. We’d intended to get away, to relax and not have an agenda (and load up on carbs). Work intruded a lot, but mostly it gave Sunshine the chance to nap whilst I toiled, which is pretty much what was hoped for.

At first, I wasn’t fully down with the Cadillac Hotel. The room wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but a second glance showed me how well they did with remodelling an old, old building. ? There were a lot of the typical Venice Beach marginal types and crackheads, but they’re benign because the local government tolerates them (unlike every other beach in L.A.), so they’ve achieved a kind of balance in their craziness–it doesn’t get too far out of hand. The drum circle did its best to make me not work, but beyond that, the room was comfortable and provided great relaxation.

The best part, hands-down, was being able to see and hear the ocean from our bed–we spent a good portion of Saturday morning just laying about, staring out the windows. Better than television!? Mirrors, breakfast, a long walk (with a little hostility from a pushy musician asking for a “dough-nation”, who then wanted to set a lower limit on the “dough-nation”, fuck THAT running naked with a tuba), the walk back along the coldish water, back to the room to nap and work (argh), then a run and a shoot (yesterday’s sunsets were the result of this session), and then off to C&O for dinner. Walk back, crawled into bed by 11ish. Up this morning at the Crackhead of Dawn (jabbering about his “corp-rat heggie-monie”), to pack and await the Heathen for breakfast and flight. Flight documented above, the return home almost devoid of traffic (I know, I know, but you must be lucky to be lucky).

All in all, another great trip with my Sunshine. Big love, cuteness!