Sunday, October 13, 2013

First Steps and New Toys

Fly on Flower, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
Have you ever watched a kid who's just learned how to walk and is now exploring the seemingly vast expanse of his or her world. Usually with a parent following along behind?  She scampers. He sometimes looks like a drunken sailor.  At times she falls quickly and at other times he makes it pretty far before taking that tumble.  Always there is a joyous abandon and fearlessness and a curiosity about the world.  It's all new and the possibilities are endless.

As we grow, we lose some of this abandon as we begin to worry about falling and the resulting broken bones.  For some, aches and pains begin to creep into our lives due to the wear and tear that daily use takes on our joints.  We can become a bit more unbalanced as our gaits change to compensate for a joint gone bad.  In my case,  as chronicled in Wiggling My Toes, the problematic joint was that of my big left toe.  I recently took action to get it fixed -- as opposed to managed -- and yesterday marked the first time I've been out with my camera since my surgery.  It was also the first time I went out into the streets of NYC without a cane.  

Leaf Textures, Conservatory Garden, Central Park
Leaf Textures

Admittedly, I did not go far -- maybe walking about 15 blocks in total -- but it felt good to be out and about in one of my favorite spots, the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.  This gem is in the northern reaches of the park and I most often combine a trip there with a stop in the the mount (where old trees go to die) and a walk through the north woods.  It felt a bit like I was learning to walk all over again as I moved slowly, around the gardens checking out the flowers and textures that mark this time of year.  Some, not many, trees are starting to turn and I think fall will be in full swing in the next couple of weeks.  I can't say that I was scampering but I was back to exploring and capturing the world around me.  Slow but steady progress will get me back to a life without boundaries.  Or so I hope!

Leaves, Wide Angle, Central Park, Conservatory Garden
Who Needs Flowers (Wide Angle Fun)

New Toy on the Horizon
I have been perseverating about whether to make the switch to a full-blown DSLR for about six months now with an eye to acquiring a Canon or a Nikon using my AmEx points.  I had pretty much settled on a Canon (serious amateur photographer) but was still worrying about the additional weight of both the camera body and lenses and so had yet to purchase.   I have been shooting with the Olympus E-620 since 2010  -- it has a smaller internal sensor than a Canon or Nikon and also uses Micro four-thirds lenses which are smaller and lighter than the lenses for the other two lines.  Olympus has been my go to brand since I purchased my first all-in-one super zoom (520-Utz) back in 2007.  I had acquired the E-620 with AmEx points with the main goal of taking better pictures of waves!  Mission accomplished (see Big Waves).  Or at least accomplished until I want to take pictures like Clark Little.  That would require me to lose my innate fear of waves and also become a much stronger swimmer!

The E-620 does not do well in low light -- in fact it sucks which is why I'd been perseverating about going to a Canon or Nikon.  As all this mulling was going on (and those who know me well know that I can mull things over for an extraordinarily long time),  in the absence of actually being ready to purchase a new camera, I took a spin around the rewards site in search of a replacement for a lens that I had chipped at some point this summer (note to self, purchase filters for all lenses).  With two trips to big sky country this year (Arizona and Alaska) plus spending more time on the streets of Manhattan, I have been learning to use my 14-42 mm lens and was missing it.

Mums, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
Here Come the Mums

This morning, much to my surprise and delight, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (EM5) had joined the other cameras in the rewards offerings. This is mainly because Olympus has come out with a new camera in its OM line -- the OM-D E-M1 which is getting rave reviews but, alas, is not available with AmEX points.  After finding the camera, the biggest decision I had to make was whether to purchase it in silver or in black.  After much deliberation, I went with black (I am a New Yorker after all).

As to why I backed off the move to a Canon, it boils down to the additional weight and bulk of a full-sized DSLR and accompanying lenses. I've liked this camera -- a lot -- since getting it with AmEx points in 2009 (or was it 2010).   It does what I need it to do and the lenses don't take up  much space in my back pack when I'm traveling.  Nor are they too heavy to carry around on hikes or while trucking around NYC (while, maybe a little heavy to carry all the lenses but I usually just lug three).   My only complaint with Olympus has been in low light (mainly because I hate flash) and the EM5 fixes much -- but not all -- of that problem.  The EM5 is a mirrorless camera system which makes it even smaller than the E-620.

As for the lens that started the morning's search, my new camera comes with the M.Zuiko 12-50 mm lens which can double as a macro lens - potentially reducing my load even further.  i can still use all of the lenses I have for the E-620 and am thinking my next lens should be a fixed focal lens now that I'm spending more time in the streets as opposed to the gardens of NYC.

And, in a final plus (although I am not convinced I will do this) -- I will have two camera bodies that use the same lenses.  This is something I'd been wishing for because sometimes you just don't want to be constantly switching lenses to get the shot.

Lily Pond Reflections, Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC
Lily Pond Reflections

By the time the new camera arrives, I should be walking further than I am now.  And, maybe just maybe, I'll be ready to learn how to do some new tricks with it.  

Life is good.

About the Photos
The photos accompanying this post are from yesterday's walk in the Conservatory Garden.  And then there was the obligatory piece of metal as I exited the park that I had to stop and go back for -- despite an aching toe.  Because I didn't want to carry a lot of gear, I was using my Olympus 70-300 zoom lens with the camera's macro setting for some shots and also took a spin around the garden with the wide-angle (I am always amused by the photos that thing takes.  

Twist to Open, StandPipe (or Fire Hydrant, hmm?), Central Park, NYC
Twist to Open

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