I hate pictures. Well, I hate being in pictures anyway. I hate having to try and pose for them; or rather try not to look stupid which I usually do. In most pictures that I’m in I never really think I look like myself. I always have some bewildered, tired, or crazy look on my face. Then again, I might just be uglier in real life than my mind perceives when I look in the mirror, and photos are just evidence of this. Either way, I hate pictures. Well, I used to hate them anyway, until now.
I never liked taking pictures in public. I always felt like a tourist doing it. I guess that’s the whole point though, tourists take pictures. I’ve never stayed in one place for too long, yet many times I feel like wherever I am is my home, and I don’t want to be the tourist in my own home. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older, or maybe I just realized that I need to learn photography to accomplish some of my goals, but I’m actually starting to take to the whole photography thing.
As mentioned in another post, I recently purchased a new camera. I decided to go with a Canon EOS t3 for a few different reasons. I was comparing it with the Nikon d3100 and it was a close race for sure. In reviews I read a few things stuck out to me about the Canon. The first thing was the autofocus motor that is built into the camera. The d3100 does not have this, which could make lens buying very expensive in the future (not that it won’t already be). The megapixels are lower on the Canon but that is actually somewhat good for my uses. I really did like the d3100 having 1080p full HD video, however the 720p hd on the Canon is still great for my purposes which is mostly videos on the web. The interface seems to be a little friendlier on the Canon as well. The last deciding factor was the influence of quite a few friends here in Curitiba who are all Canon users and all great photographers.
I hesitated on buying a DSLR camera before I came to Brazil because to be honest, they are pretty expensive. I ended up buying a nice point and shoot digital camera from Fujifilm, which looks like a DSLR and has the ultra zoom lens which is nice in its own right. The camera works well enough, but the battery life is horrible (uses 4 double A batteries) and the photo quality just isn’t the same. Knowing electronics were expensive from my last trip here in Rio, I really should have thought this through a little more, and I ended up paying the price for it.
My new camera retails for about $550 in the United States. That same camera from Canon’s website in Brazil is R$2299. Even with a favorable exchange rate (1.85:1 as of today) that equals out to about $1242 in US dollars. The import tax on electronics here is massive. There are a few ways to go about getting electronics for a better price here though. The first option is to take a trip to Paraguay. This country probably has the cheapest electronics in South America from what I have heard. I’ve also heard that you have to be very careful, because you might end up buying a box filled with rocks if you let your guard down.
The second way which I think this is probably the best option is to check out the EBay of Brazil, MercadoLivre. I found the site while doing a web search for cameras on the Brazilian version of Google, and while the prices weren’t the same as I would find in the United States, they were much lower than what a retail store or Canon’s website offered. The problem, of course, was how to know whether to trust a website here. To add to that, even if I did trust the website, I had to figure out how to order. I don’t have a CPF (similar to a social security number in the USA) and many website require this for purchase. I didn’t end up needing the CPF, but I did end up needing my girlfriend to help me correspond with the seller. She is a lifesaver for me more times than I could mention here. Thanks Milena!
After talking to a few people about the site and looking into it a little more, I found out that it was indeed similar to EBay in the United States. There is a system for rating sellers, and I saw advertisements for the site on television so I decided it must have some legitimacy to it. I wasn’t disappointed. I ended up paying about R$1400 for my camera, which worked out to about $730 at the time in US Dollars. It was a little more than I wanted to pay, but it was well worth it. The camera came in the original package with the entire kit (lens, cables, etc.) and they even threw in a nice 8gb SD card and case. I’m told that these sellers really just smuggle the goods over from Paraguay and then sell them on EBay. If you are looking for a high end electronic, I would definitely think about using this option. Just choose your seller wisely. Also remember, the best option if you can is to just bring it with you!
As to my original thoughts in the beginning of the blog, I’m not such a detractor on taking pictures anymore. I’ve actually found that I like being behind the lens much more than I like being in front of it. I don’t feel like a tourist anymore. It sounds cheesy and cliché I know, but when I get to film things like live mma fights, especially when they are the fights of my friends from the academy, I really feel like I’m capturing something special. It’s great to provide those photos to the guys as well, as I myself have very few pictures from growing up and a multitude of other special moments in my life. Hopefully my pictures can lead to more big things in the world of journalism as well.
I recently had the opportunity to film some fights at an event called Power Fight Extreme here in Curitiba. The event was really well put together and the fights were outstanding. I am still editing (and deleting) the almost 1500 photos I took at the event, but I hope to post those here soon. Photographing fights is a cruel sport. You have to predict when a shot is going to be thrown, and then hope you predicted the timing that the shot lands. Many times you take a sequence and you have 4 or 5 shots of a guy throwing a feint. Even worse is when you hesitate and end up taking the shots when you catch a hint the guy is throwing, but it’s already too late and the other guy is laying on the ground before your first photo snaps. If you ever doubted how hard or fast guys punch in MMA, try catching a guy connecting with a punch on your camera.
I actually got a press pass to shoot the fights right on the cage, which was my first experience of this kind. It was also my first time taking action pictures like this, and my first time really putting my DSLR to use. I have to be honest, I was somewhat lost. I hadn’t read any of the books I have on photography and didn’t experiment too much before the fight. The few photos I did take before the fight turned out really nice, but I was mostly using auto mode and didn’t have cage links to get in the way or ruin my focus.
Luckily, I had a ton of professionals around me, and they were all more than eager to throw some tips my way. I even got some good shots out of the bunch, and a few were used on a website here in Brazil. If you get a chance (especially if you are one of my Brazilian friends) check out Valmir’s site at http://www.mmasul.com.br . He takes a lot of great photos and if you’re looking for results for a certain event he usually has his laptop there and is tweeting or facebooking the results as they happen. With the help of guys like him I got it all sorted out and ended up taking a ton of manual shots that night and was really happy with the results.
Photography, like many things I flood my life with (jiu jitsu, school, web design, etc.) is a learning process. Again maybe it’s me getting older, but I’m really starting to feel comfortable with not knowing everything right this second. I’m starting to enjoy learning, no matter what the subject is. I don’t have to be a blackbelt, or an expert photographer right now. The journey of learning really is more exciting and fulfilling than just knowing or being good at something right away. I am of the instant gratification generation, but I’m starting to get past it. I look forward to learning photography over the next hopefully many years of my life, and even more so I am hoping to share all of my shots with those who read this site.
Since a blog post about photography obviously would be no good without some actual photos, I’ve included some pictures that I took in a visit to the Botanical Gardens here in Curitiba. I’ve got a whole blog in my head dedicated to training which has been going really well that I need to get out, so look out for that. Also the Power Fight Extreme pictures should be up soon. This week I should be starting my academy tour project as well, and I’m really excited to bring that to everyone who reads here as well the rest of the world through Full Contact Fighter. As always, comments, suggestions, and verbal beatings are always welcome here!