Autobiography of an Amateur Photographer (The Flood)

The search has begun.  Looking for that nice white barrel with the red ring.  Having the range was no longer enough.  It was not Canon, it was not white, and it was not “L”.  Do I really know what a “L” can do?  Do I really care that it’s weather seal or that it has fluorite element(s)?  Heck to this day, I still don’t understand what the fluorite element(s) can do.  Never the less, I had to have it.  All the pro you see on TV uses it and most importantly, Chad has one.  The 70-200mm 2.8L IS!!

Back to craigslist I go.  Chad actually found a photographer that was selling a bundle.  It had a white lens and a collection of other “L” Lenses.  We bought the bundle and parted some of the pieces out to recoup the cost.  It was a “GOOD DEAL”, so we make ourselves believe.  After all, how can you put a price on the pleasure of holding the “L”, the white barrel, or the red ring.  Out of the package, I ended up with Chad’s old 28-70mm 2.8L and a 70-200mm 2.8L non-IS.  My range was covered.  But the lust continued on.  There were the newer 24-70mm 2.8L, the 70-200 2.8L IS.  My gear was not the best!

As I look back, during that period, we still went to lots of racing days and shoot a lot of cars.  But little did I build more on my techniques beyond follow panning.  I learned a little bit about f/stops, shutter speed, iso.  But haven’t fully grasp what each of the setting affects the other.  All I know is that if the car’s coming fast, do 1/160 – 1/250.  The car will stop, but the wheel will keep spinning.  The 20d’s high iso range wasn’t that good so only always set it at 100-400.  As far as f/stop.  2.8 was always good.  Because 2.8 cost more money!!  Beyond that, it was always more about the gears more than the techniques.

The search continued on.  I have to have the same gears as Chad so I can shoot as good as him!!  His 1D had 8 frame per second.  That must be why he can get those cars in the frame while mine has the front or rear cut off.  His white lens has IS which supposedly give you an extra stop (whatever that means), that must be why he can get those sharp night racing shots while mine all come in blurry.  Little did i know, it was the proper settings and techniques that got him those shots.

I do remember one of the outing we had at Sears Point (Now Infineon Raceway).  It was quite memorable.  Chad don his photo vest with a white lens hanging off his 1D and a 16-35mm 2.8L off his 2nd body 20d.  He look pro!  I followed him through out the race track and found ourself behind an area that was authorized only for media passes.  It was an awesome vantage point.  We had access to be close and personal with the race cars as they come through the turns.  Chad set himself up right behind a barrier while I set myself up a few feet from him.  As we when happily shooting our way, I notice from the corner of my eye that dust was flying.  Taking my eye from the view finder, and looked towards the dust cloud.  There was a car that have collided and spinning out of control toward us.  I holler at Chad, but he still had his eye trained through the view finder snapping away.  The car stopped about one car length from us.  I didn’t get any good crash shots though.  But now I know why certain area are meant for MEDIA ONLY.

Shortly after, we started to attend car shows.  This was my introduction into wide angle lenses.  The 28-70 was too long to shoot.  Every picture have people in front.  I needed an wide angle lens so I can get up close to the cars.  Good old Craigslist netted me a 17-40 f/4.  But the typical car shows are all indoor with poor lighting, I knew quickly that the f/4 was not going to cut it.  Ok, I didn’t really know, but I needed an excuse for a 16-35mm 2.8L.

Strangely, my wishes all became my command.  One lenses came right after another.  But it was one good tip that I learned from Chad.  Don’t just buy, sell some too.  So I sold one lens to buy another.  Always keeping an eye out for a good deal.  I was able to finally get a collection that was happy with.  Not sure if it actually improved any of my shooting, but I like to think it did.  16-35mm 2.8L, 24-70mm 2.8L, 70-200mm 2.8L IS.  I have all the range covered in the latest L with red rings.

I was finally ready to really start shooting! Really!

  1. Chad Smavatkul says:

    Not really. You’re not ready to start shooting.

    There has to be a reason when f/2.8, at one point, became too “slow” for you. To the point where the search shifted to the lens with the red ring, and has to be 1.2!

    Please continue your bio. We need to know the reason you decided to give up your red rings for the red dots. 🙂
    Oh, and it seems that 1.2 is too slow again!


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