October 11, 2012

Good Days/Bad Days

Yesterday was a good day. Obviously the day before I was losing my shit for no apparent reason so Blake decided to take a half day yesterday and go into the office in the afternoon because he had a meeting later than he normally would any other day anyway. (That’s an awkward sentence, I hope that makes sense. It really doesn’t matter, I guess. He took a half day to spend with me. That’s what’s important.)

He and I both worked in the morning and after I was done, I slept on the couch until he was done and then he said that it was shitty outside so we couldn’t take pictures (and like I said, taking pictures inside our house, especially on a crappy, rainy day is basically impossible unless you want to use ISO 3600 which I wouldn’t want to do) but we could go out for breakfast. So I said yes and we decided to go to 50′s & 60′s Diner in Wasaga Beach because honestly, that’s my favourite place to get breakfast around here and they have limited hours so we don’t get to go a whole lot. (And yes I realize that there shouldn’t be apostrophes in their name but they apparently don’t know that because that’s what it says on their sign and on the menus so let’s pretend that’s okay.)

For the first time ever, I strapped on my giant camera backback which is about half the size of me and weighs about 40 lbs (I have no idea if that’s true, I just made that up, but it IS heavy as fuck) and the backpack and I barely fit in the front seat of the car together. But whatever, I’ve got to get used to taking it with me everywhere right? So it came with us.

For breakfast I got their version of an egg McMuffin which was an english muffin with an egg on it (duh), 3 slices of bacon and then they put about 5000 tons of marble cheese on it and then I think they broil it to melt the cheese because the cheese was crispy on the edges and then they put the other side of the english muffin on. I added ketchup. And while it was a heart attack on a plate and cost $6, it was very very good and I would really love to have another one.

50′s & 60′s Diner used to be called Galaxy/Galaxie Diner which used to be a chain of 50s & 60s-inspired (awesome) diners that started up maybe 10-12 years ago but then the franchise went tits up and the diners were all left stranded, having to fend for themselves. Most of them closed. There’s one in Barrie, which is still called Galaxy Diner that we go to often but all of the other ones I knew about before the franchise filed for bankruptcy are all gone now. There may be one in Newmarket but I’m not totally sure and you guys don’t even know where that is anyway.

In the spirit of the golden oldies era, they’ll mix you a vanilla or cherry Coke, which I always get when I’m there and I usually get one to go too because you just can’t get cherry and vanilla Coke here and especially not in fountain pop which is sometimes better. (Although sometimes you get a squirt happy waitress who puts too much syrup in, like she did yesterday, but it’s usually still okay, just a little cloying.)

All of these diners have a million old-timey metal signs for Penzoil and Coca-Cola and stuff like that all over their walls and those little records that I think are called 45s? 50′s & 60′s Diner has this cool airbrushed mural of Marilyn and Elvis on the right side of the restaurant that I’ve always liked. Above Marilyn’s head there’s a metal street sign that says “Marilyn Ave”.

After we were done eating, I asked Blake to ask the waitress if I could take pictures in there since the place was pretty much empty and completely empty on our side of it and she said “sure” so that’s what I did. The whole point of this exercise was to figure out this FUCKING 50mm lens from the fiery depths of HELL, which was mostly unsuccessful because I just do not understand the concept of “depth of field” and DON’T GIVE ME ANY FUCKING LINKS THAT TRY TO EXPLAIN IT BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING POINTLESS so the pics aren’t that exciting but I’m going to post most of them anyway because it helps ME to see them all in a row in a blog post on my site and y’know, it’s my show so here we go:

First of all, this is what 50′s & 60′s Diner looks like on the outside. These pics are crappy because I’m an idiot who left the aperture at 1.4 to basically take a landscape which is just stupid. Also because this lens is THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER, I had to literally go across the road to take the 2nd picture. I can’t estimate like feet or metres or whatever, but it was ridiculously far away. I would not have had to do that with my original lens and I still don’t really understand why. Blake’s tried explaining it to me and I just don’t understand. I’m not ungrateful for this lens, it just really pisses me off because I have absolutely no fucking idea how you’re supposed to use it and I’m finding it extremely frustrating. I also don’t know how to make my camera focus on what I want to it focus on so right now I have it set to just focus the little red dot in the middle instead of having all the other dots. I’m just going to focus everything in the middle for the rest of my life and creatively crop everything, godammit.

Anyway, this is 50′s & 60′s Diner:

The good thing about this lens being a total bastard is that it got me to cross the street all by myself which is something I normally wouldn’t be able to do. But I was pissed off because that was the only way I was going to get this shot so I did.

Marilyn & Elvis.

Now here’s where the pictures get boring and repetitive because what I did, on Blake’s suggestion, was I threw the camera on aperture priority and took basically the same picture at every f.stop from 5.6 all the way down to 1.4 which is as low as this lens goes. (For Raya: The lower the aperture (the number), the more shallow the depth of field.) I did this just to practice and to get a feel for how to use this lens. I failed utterly because I just don’t understand depth of field at all, even with diagrams, because it just doesn’t make sense in my brain, but I’m going to post the pictures anyway. Or some of them. All of them can be found here.

So this is 5.6. I focused on the inner edge of the table and everything is pretty much in focus. 5.6 has a wider depth of field than say, 2.8. On the surface I get that but it falls apart later on:

This is 4.0. Focused on the inner edge of the table still but the depth of field starts to narrow from 5.6 perceptibly (but not in the LCD screen because it’s too small to notice or the viewfinder for reasons I can’t quite figure out because I don’t understand why the camera doesn’t just show you what you’re looking at like a pair of glasses, but whatever) as you can see the right edge of the table blurring.

This is 2.8. The right edge of the table, the back edge of the table and the left side of the booth are blurred because the depth of field narrows AND becomes more shallow. In theory I understand this. I see it with my own eyes. I didn’t move my position the whole time I was taking any of these pics, I just changed the aperture (and the camera changed the shutter speed automagically because it was on aperture priority, despite this, I did notice that the lower my aperture, the darker the pictures got and I don’t think that’s supposed to happen?).

1.4. The lowest it goes. Only a stripe, so to speak, starting at the corner of the table and going diagonally is in focus, although it’s hard to really tell when the picture’s this size and when there’s sheen from the window on the table.

2.8, which was the aperture recommended to use in general with a 1.8 50mm lens in a link my friend Mariko gave me the other day:

First of all, I LOVE THESE CHAIRS. I want them for my house.
There’s this restaurant where we used to live called “Good Eat” that had the same ones when I was a kid (with matching bar stools) and I’ve just always loved them. Then again, I love glitter, so…

Anyway, 2.8. I was fairly close to the chair when I took this picture and I think it’s a pretty perfect picture. I’m not saying it’s high art or anything crazy like that, I’m just saying that what I wanted in focus WAS in focus (for once, with this lens) and what I wanted blurry WAS blurry. I think I like 2.8. I can work with 2.8.

This is stupid 1.4. As you can see, the bottom and side of the chair is blurry. Only the top edge is in focus, really. I was the same distance away as in the gold chair pic. Maybe a tiny nudge closer. I’m starting to wonder why on Earth anyone would WANT 1.4. All it does is takes shitty pictures.

1.4 from further away, focused on the corner of the blue chair. The edge of the blue chair is out of focus though and that’s dumb so this picture would probably be better taken at maybe 2.0-ish if I wanted the VERY left edge of the blue chair out of focus and the VERY right edge of the gold chair also out of focus. Right? Although probably at 2.0 the whole gold chair would be in focus since I had the little red dot thing focusing right in the middle. I still don’t understand the dots and why they focus on the wrong things at random all the fucking time.

And here’s where everything I thought I knew about depth of field falls apart:

I was focused dead centre on the sugar dispenser so why the HELL is only a little strip of the stupid TABLE in focus? Why aren’t the S&P shakers in focus too? I was like, 8 or 10 inches away! This was 1.4 btw.

Also 1.4. This lens is going to fucking end me. Again, dead center focused on the sugar dispenser, why is the table in focus but not the S&P shakers? I took this at the end of the table so maybe a foot & a half away. Our friend Dave said that with 1.4 you should shoot from far away and crop in but I tried that inadvertently with this pic and with the outside diner pics and they’re all terrible.

So that was my little photo exercise for yesterday. I had fun taking the pictures but  editing them this morning just annoyed the shit out of me because I don’t understand why most of the 1.4 ones look like shit. I know I just have to keep practicing until it makes sense and that if I’m unsure, just put it to 5.6 so it will act like my other lens (except for the fact that you have to be really far away to take a picture of anything and I really really hate that) but in the meantime I’m going to bitch and moan about it and post terrible pictures and you guys are just going to have to put up with it. :o)

After 50′s & 60′s Diner, we went home and Blake went to work and once he was gone I lit some vanilla incense, which I kept going all day so my office smells heavenly, had a shower and put on clean clothes, which is something I hadn’t done in quite some time because I mostly just don’t give a fuck (I even shaved my legs, ooh la la!) and watched Dowton Abbey all day while I painted my toenails glittery red to match my outfit of light red, flared track pants and a bright red tank top). Then around 3:30pm, I made myself an early dinner of Pilsbury Crescent Rolls and I went to bed at the proper time for waking up at 4am for work and still having a family life which, for me, is 9:30pm. Also during that time I was very social on Twitter and Facebook and all in all it was a pretty fantastic day.

My only complaint is that Madison was being a pain in the ass and driving me crazy and Wes came home from school crying because a kid at school is picking on him, a car splashed him on his way home (in the rain) and he was soaked and he almost lost his umbrella in the street because of the wind. So he had a terrible day, but I sprayed him with Inner peace and Joy Juice and he went and watched TV and chilled out and was fine. I told him if that kid touches him again today, to tell his teacher that this kid is BULLYING him and to use the word BULLYING because the school has zero tolerance for that supposedly and if she doesn’t take him seriously after using that word then Blake would have to call the school.

Madison waltzed in after school while her brother was sitting on my office stairs still crying and announced that she had a wonderful day. I told her I was glad she did and that Wes was not so lucky. She said she didn’t want to hear about that because it would “harsh [her] mood” and I said “How very selfish of you Madison, thank you for proving me right about you once again,” to which she replied that she didn’t want to hear that either because it would “harsh” her mood and she went into the living room.

After I got Wes settled watching TV, I went back to watching Dowton Abbey and minding my own business but Madison got bored and came in and wanted to tell me about her day, so I patiently listened to ALL THIS INANE (look that word up on Dictionary.com, Daniel) HIGH SCHOOL BULLSHIT I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT AT ALL BECAUSE IT WAS POINTLESS BABBLING THAT WASTED MY PRECIOUS TIME (which I eventually told her but she’s so selfish that she didn’t care and kept telling me anyway even though I told her I didn’t care or need to know any of what she was telling me and that I wanted to watch my show (my stories haha)). I don’t need to know that some other kid I’ve met once is infatuated with some other kid I’ve never met who Madison and her friend don’t like. And now I’ve told you because I know you care as much as I do.

Anyway, good day despite kid aggro. A good day for me is a day where there’s no room to be depressed, where I’m constantly stimulated but not only that, that I have a reserve of stuff to do later. Like part of why yesterday was so great was because I could watch Downton Abbey all day BECAUSE I had all these pictures I could edit TODAY, so the goodness from one day can carry over to the next day. That makes me feel good. Being productive makes me feel good. Making and sharing things makes me feel good. Writing this post is productive and makes me feel good. Having a shower and painting my toenails IS productive to me. Yesterday was completely productive and good.

Today won’t be so great because I have a work meeting and I’m in trouble at work and I have no idea how my boss is going to be toward me but everything on either side of 2pm should, theoretically, be good, because the sun is out temporarily and I think I’m going to chow down some Ativan and go on the trail. I’m scared I’ll get caught in the rain though while I’m out there so I may not do that, but if I don’t, I’m going to keep watching Downton Abbey and doing my best not to be depressed, as hard as that is to do.

So that’s my plan.

2 Comments

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  1. anonymous says:

    Sunny, your lens seem to have a few great things about it:

    - 1.4 is a really open lens, meaning you can shoot with very low light without flash
    - 1.4 is a very open lens, mean that it’s VERY easy to make pictures with a blurred background. But it’s also easy to focus on the wrong point of the image.
    - There’s very little deformation. If you photograph a straight line, it’ll be straight even in the corners.

    It’s a bit hard to see because you framed the pictures with the different apertures differently, but there’s another effect with the wide aperture. It’s called vignetting. This means that with a wide aperture, the corners of your picture will look darker than the center. This is why your pictures seem darker with a more wide aperture. But look at the table in the center – that’s equally bright in all of them. If you want to try, take a picture of something with a large face with equal color/brightness, like a well-lit wall (no shadows on it).

    The combination of these features makes for a very nice lens to make portraits with. You’ll get a portrait with the subject in focus, and bright, but the background is blurry, and actually looks a bit darker because of the vignetting. This really draws your attention towards the subject in the middle. that’s why the picture of the nose of the dog looks so good. It really makes it stand out, and you can see the darker corners too.

    Because there’s little deformation, faces look natural. Try the same portrait with this lens and with a more wide angle one (35mm works, or even more wide angle), framed as much the same as possible. Then compare them, especially look at the noses – you’ll see what i mean.

    This all also makes it harder to just point and shoot and expect everything to be in focus. Basically, if you use an aperture as wide as 1.4 (and that’s really wide!), only a very small portion will be in focus. It may help to use manual focus. Or to set your aperture less wide. If you move further from your subject, actually more of the subject will be in focus, so you can still even take pictures with a blurry background when you’re further away from the subject with this very wide aperture.

    While this is great for portraits and quite a few other scenario’s, taking a picture of a building may be harder. Instead of looking wide and open and big, it may look small and cramped.

    • Sunny says:

      Thank you for your comment and I apologize that it didn’t format correctly once I posted it (you have to put in html line breaks between paragraphs), but I can see it formatted correctly in my admin panel, so it’s all good. :o)

      - 1.4 is a very open lens, mean that it’s VERY easy to make pictures with a blurred background. But it’s also easy to focus on the wrong point of the image.

      Yeah, this seems to be my big problem: focusing on the right part of the image. I just can’t get the camera to focus where I want it to and it’s pissing me right off. Why does this keep happening?

      - There’s very little deformation. If you photograph a straight line, it’ll be straight even in the corners.

      I don’t know what this means. I thought that was a given for all lenses? I mean, why wouldn’t it be?

      Do you have any idea why the bokeh in this picture warped so badly at 1.4 with this lens?

      Vignetting I can do after the fact in Lightroom and I can make it look the way I want it to in 3 seconds, I don’t see that as a feature of this lens, especially when it’s so unpredictable. :o/