2011 a year in review

It seems that I’ve once again neglected a blog. No matter, here’s a summary of what happened in 2011 (and bits and pieces of all the content I never got around to writing). Picture heavy post ahead!

In February, D’Ann got her first doll. She’d been wanting one for some time so I hit up Volks to see if they still had any in stock. Fortunately, they still had a Miu available after the DP event so I picked her up. Even though it was still a few months before D’Ann’s birthday, I let it slip that I already had the present. Here’s what happened…

Early birthday present

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Going Wide (Tokina 12-24 AT-X Pro)

It’s been quite awhile, hasn’t it! A couple weeks ago, I picked up a new lens to add to my collection. Introducing the Tokina 12-24mm f/4.0 wide angle!

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I’ve been lusting after a wide angle for some time now and I’d been considering this lens. At an MSRP of $399 for the initial AT-X Pro version ($499 for the AT-X Pro II) seemed a bargain compared to the $1000+ price tag of the Nikon equivalent. Even better, I got mine used from a local camera shop for less than that! A sucker for a good deal (and even nicer glass), I went ahead and picked it up. This would be my second piece of glass from Tokina, the first being the 100mm AT-X Pro Macro lens.

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Shooting in Macro

After almost a month of being on back order, my first macro lens arrived on my doorstep yesterday! This is also the first non-Nikkor lens I’ve purchased and instead is made by Tokina. After a lot of research and digging through reviews, I settled on a AT-X Pro D model featuring a 100mm focal length and f/2.8 maximum aperture (at full macro mode, it stops down to f/5.6).

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Nikon’s equivalent in this range is a 105mm f/2.8 with VR. Getting the first party lens comes at a price… The Nikkor cost over twice as much as the Tokina. While most reviews rate the Tokina a bit lower than the Nikkor (VR being the big differentiator), the difference in price makes the Tokina a much better bargain.

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Rin goes out… again

Now that I’ve gotten some more equipment in to assist in Dollfie photography, I decided it was time to put it all to good use. Since Rin’s last outing, she got a new outfit, a tripod mountable stand from Dollfie World, and a new mode of transportation. I’ve since acquired a new lens for my camera which has already proven itself to be great for close ups and portraits. Rin’s last outing to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden happened to be on Mother’s Day, so pedestrian traffic was higher than normal. This time, I picked a “normal” beautiful Sunday morning, when everyone else in the area was attending church. There was barely anyone else on the grounds, which allowed me to shoot in peace.

I also chose to start near the back of the garden and move forward to further reduce running into someone early on. Enough text, time for some cute!

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Somehow I’m reminded of a line from a certain Monty Python movie… something about huge tracts of land?

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Dabbling in close-up photography

A couple weeks ago, I picked up a brand new Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens from Amazon to shoot with. Being used to various zooms, it was a bit of a change in shooting style going to a non-stabilized prime lens. Once I got used to it, I found that it produced far sharper images, wonderful background blur, and beautiful portraits. The somewhat short focal distance got me to thinking… how good would it be for doing close ups?

To find out, I signed up for a macro photography workshop at Daniel Stowe. The instructor walked us through some tips and showed us some (expensive) equipment that would help, then it was off to the field!

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My first attempts showed how sharp the lens is. These were taken at f/5.0 (and cropped a bit). I’m sure if I worked at it, I could get my reflection in those water droplets… Just as a quick note, all of the photos in this post will display the full sized counterparts when clicked. 🙂

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