Thursday, February 21, 2008

For those of you who didn't see, here's a picture that I took of the lunar eclipse last night. Unfortunately, I was at fast-food job for most of the evening, so by the time I rushed home, grabbed the camera and tripod, and set myself up in the backyard, it was almost near the end. The little star to the left of the moon is Saturn. Pretty sweet hey? I would say that this photo sums up my two biggest nerd-indulgences: Photography and Astronomy.

I was thinking about my so-called hobbies and how they affect my finances. I wouldn't say I spend a lot of money on Astronomy. I took some classes in college, and, even though I paid for them, they were counted as part of my degree as options. It was nice because included in the text books that I bought was a peice of software called "Starry Night Sky". It's an awesome program, and one that costs more than $200 on it's own. You put in where you are on the earth and it shows you the sky. Exactly what you would see if you were outside. It's very handy as it includes things like lunar eclipses, star names, distance charts, solar eclipses - all sorts of fun! It also lets you fly around the galaxy looking at the sky from other planets - which is more fun than practical if you ask me.

Now, photography is much more expensive hobby to me. My first camera was a Yashica 32mm film SLR that my dad gave me (he originally bought it when I was a baby! - that makes it 23 years old!). I spent a lot of time taking pictures and blowing through film like there was no tomorrow. After getting out of high school, I took a full time job and started making decent money. My next big purchase was the Panasonic Lumix FZ20. It's a "prosumer" digital "SLR-type" camera. That means that it does a lot of the things that a full on SLR does, without all of the functions. The thing that really appealed to me was that it had a 12x zoom.

Well, that camera followed me to Europe twice, NYC once, and many many trips around my hometown and vacations. On the way I bought at least 3 tripods (some tiny, some larger, and one "gorillapod"), 5 extra batteries (again, I take pictures like there is no tomorrow. While I was in Europe I blew through at least 400-600 pictures a day! I should've only had 4 batteries, but I thought I lost one, so I bought a new one, only to find the old one. See? Bad habit!!), a remote shutter, and a filter. That camera treated me so good.

When I got back from NYC, I really noticed that my camera wasn't acting as good as it used to me. And it was no longer doing all the things that I wanted it too. I thought that the $1,000 or so I had invested in it had paid off. I had taken over 13,000 photos with it in abour 3/4 years.

So, I started looking around. My friends H and K had both purchased a Nikon D40x, and while they were gorgeous cameras, I wanted something more. So I wandered over to Digital Photography Review, (a great site if you want to know everything about cameras!) to look at the Nikon D80. The reviews were steller, other than a couple minor things that I could deal with, and I happily wandered over to my local Camera store and walked out with one!

The damage? $869 for the body and another $700 for the lens. The catch? I had just received, in the mail, a $1,000 scholarship for tuition - now, I had graduated at that time, so I was allowed to cash the cheque and move on - so I did! (Only with a new camera!).

Since then, I've aquired a vertical grip (gift from my parents for my birthday) and a couple of camera bags. However, the pleasure that i've gotten from this camera has already made the purchase price worth it. Anything I want to do with this camera - I can!

A lot of people raise their eyes (and eyebrows!) and question my need for a so-called "fancy" camera. They wonder why I feel the need to spend all this money on cameras when they are content with a $200 point-and-shoot camera. I have a hard time retorting to that question - it's hard to explain to someone how much of a passion I have for photography.

My mother is always telling me I should quit my day job and become a freelance photographer. I'd love to do that, but I fear that turning a hobby into a career could ruin my passion in it. I'd like to expand my portfolio and start shooting friends' weddings and such (my friends need to get married first!), but I don't think I ever want to make this a career.

I feel that the money is well-spent, although other people may disagree. But, I figure, everyone has got a vice, whether it be shoes, purses, cigarettes, alcohol, or, for me, cameras!

What are your hobbies? Are they expensive?


Canadian Saver said...

That is a very cool pic!