Elsie and Me

Reverse engineering photography, random thoughts and other stuff

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Here’s to the morris


Morris dancing — or as my significant other likes to refer to it in the presence of non-morris folk, “that weird dance thing we do” — is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. It’s colorful, and sometimes I can catch the dancers in midair (like this), or capture a perfect facial expression, like in the shot above.

Elsie and I shot this on May Day in Washington Park, Albany, N.Y. The two gentlemen are Doug and Don from the Pokingbrook Morris Dancers, Albany’s local morris team.

I used Elsie’s sports setting (very handy for shooting morris) and continuous drive mode. She chose a shutter speed of 1/400 and f2.6.

If weather permits (and that’s a big if), we will be back in Washington Park on Saturday, May 13, to dance at the Tulip Festival, with a dance stand earlier in the day at the Apple Blossom Festival at Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park.

On another note, I want to thank Chuck Miller, formerly a Times Union community blogger who now blogs here, for the shout-out and link. Chuck is an award-winning photographer who does some amazing work. He’s a master of thinking outside boxes and pushing envelopes to create one-of-a-kind images.

You can see some of his best work now through June 30 in the gallery at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. (What? Of course a cemetery has an art gallery. Don’t they all?) His “Vivaldi’s Pond” absolutely must be seen in person — it’s both breathtaking and mind-blowing.

Chuck is also a talented writer. His Collarworld stories are pure brilliance — he has created an afterlife for animals that is moving without being maudlin.

Oh, and he’s also a total sweetheart. I met him at the reception for his gallery show, and he couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive.


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Welcome to Elsie and Me

Greetings! Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a hobby photographer with a good eye, a cheap camera and a brain that has so far proved incapable of learning the technical aspects of photography — all that business about f-stops and shutter speed and ISO and white balance — from the ground up. So I’ve decided to let Elsie teach me. Maybe she can teach other beginners a thing or two along the way.

Elsie is my Canon PowerShot A520. I bought her at a garage sale for $20 in 2009. For a little 4-megapixel point-and-shoot, she does some pretty amazing stuff. She also has a lot of specialized settings not found on other P&S cameras, including newer, more expensive Canons. “Elsie” is short for L.C.T.C. — Little Canon That Could.

I’ve been offered the loan of a DSLR and have also considered buying one, but before I do that, I want to familiarize myself with what Elsie can do.

I’ll be posting our work here — some new, some from my archives — with the EXIF data I’ve recovered, with the goal of learning why she chose those settings and why they work. Eventually I hope to internalize this info and get to the point where I can select them myself in the dreaded Manual Mode.

I welcome comments and questions from other beginners as well as feedback from experienced photographers. Please be kind.

Let’s get started, shall we? This was shot in 2010 and is called Winster. It’s morris dancers doing a processional dance. Resolution is not the best, but this was before I learned I could adjust Elsie’s image size. She chose an f-stop of 3.2 and shutter speed of 1/1000 for this. Click on the image for a larger view.