Jan 26, 2009: I had a chance to attend BarCamp Charlotte last weekend. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, barcamps consist of a loosely organized group of bloggers, internet marketers, computer programmers, film makers, web developers and new media types. While photographers weren’t as well represented as some of the other disciplines, there were several dSLR shooters in attendance. I also met at least one other Sony Alpha owner.
The Charlotte camp was held in an art community known as Area Fifteen, located in the NoDa art district. Area Fifteen is large meandering building with artist studios, large open areas, a labyrinth of hallways and winding stairways.
With the eclectic group of people and the fascinating backdrop of Area Fifteen, there was no shortage of photo subjects. I kept the A350 busy recording as much of the activities as I could, while still participating in the individual BarCamp sessions.
The most interesting thing about covering an event like BarCamp Charlottte, is the absolute lack of
self-consciousness of the part of the participants. There were video cameras and photographers everywhere. One of the principle themes of the barcamp movement is transparency and openness. That was a refreshing change from some ofther events I have photographed.
I took nearly 300 images during the day. No one said “Don’t take my picture!” No one turned away to hide from the camera. I could have been invisible…no one was the least bit concerned that I was aiming my lens at them. It was exciting to have the freedom to photograph whoever and whatever I wanted without interference.
I used a variety of lenses for the shoot. Because most of the activities were held indoors, I wanted the Minolta 50mm f/1.7. This gave me the ability to shoot available light under most conditions. I also brought along the Sony 18-70mm, primarily for the wideangle focal length. I thought about bringing along the Minolta beercan, but I figured the weight and f/4 aperture would be a negative.
Instead, I decided to continuie experimenting with a new acquisition, a Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 screw mount lens attached to the A350 with a M42 adapter. This arrangement has its drawbacks — no auto focusing, no Super Steady Shot, no automatic exposure. It is also a fixed focal length — no ability to zoom.
On the other hand, 135mm on the A350’s APS-C sensor equates to something like 192mm on a 35mm film camera. That meant I had the equivalent of a 200mm f2.8mm, great for capturing individual candids.
I shot some available light images at ISO 400-800, but decided to use flash for most of the images. For a flash unit I went with another oldie but goodie; a Minolta 4000 AF mounted on Control Grip 1000 flash bracket. The old Minolta flash was connected to the A350 with a Sony FA-CC1AM Alpha Off-Camera Cable. Not exactly state of the art, but extremely capable.
So how well did this somewhat primitive setup work? Quite beautifully. You can check out the BarCamp Charlotte gallery I assembled here.
I wanted to get the images online as soon as possible after the event.
I did very little post processing, other than converting the RAW images in Adobe Lightroom. Thankfully, very few of the images required any retouching, including the images from the old Vivitar.
I converted, tagged, organized and exported the entire gallery the evening after BarCamp. The next day I added some links and edited some of the CSS files. I had the gallery posted to the web by noon.
I’m not trying to brag. I just wanted to point out the images I got from the older equipment required very little editing to be ready for the web.
If there is a BarCamp in your area, I recommend you check it out. You can find out about future events in Charlotte by signing up at the BarCamp Charlotte website.
All in all, I am quite pleased with how well the old M42 lens and the 25 year old flash unit worked on the modern A350. Stay tuned. I’ll talk more about the using the M42 adapter on the Sony Alpha in the near future.