Sometimes the stars align


It's no secret that I spend most of my time working either in front of a computer screen or with a camera in hand. It's also no secret that I'm very frugal when it comes to purchasing things for myself. Actually, I'm downright cheap. 

There. I said it. I'm cheap. At least when it comes to buying things for myself. 

With that being said, it shouldn't surprise you that I was using a Canon t5.  The t5 came out in 2014.  I got mine that fall. In the world of electronics, that's pretty old. It's been a great workhorse, and has served me quite well for the four years I've used it. 

This past year alone, I managed to rack up well over 50,000 photos with it with covering concerts, events and all the marching band photos I took.  The camera has never given me a problem, always fired up when I needed it to and should honestly get a medal of honor for the things I've put it through.

Temperatures well below freezing as I trekked the river stalking a swan, the rain from Fogerty,  the heat of West Virginia... those are just a few of the extreme things I've asked this camera to do. 

The 18-megapixel sensor gave me clear, crisp images.  Continous autofocus helped me capture things as they moved by—softball games, woodsmen competitions, Kid Rock jumping on stage. 

I struggled at first with the low-light capabilities of the camera. The lack of autofocus assist in the low light kept me on my toes. Once I learned just how the camera behaved in that light, I had no issues capturing fireworks or the oddly dark red light they used at some concerts. Night time fire photography became second nature and I took some really fun shots. 

Most Canon cameras come with a life expectancy of  around 100,000 photos, so I've been really surprised with just how well this camera has done. Each and every time I sat down at my desk and offloaded 1,500 photos I smiled. 

I've been lucky in finding lenses that added to the camera's capabilities. Once you have a good camera body, upgrading the lens to better glass was always the important part. So each time I had a little money stuck away, I would end up buying better glass instead of a new body. 

This fall however, I decided my savings were going toward a  bit time upgrade. Because... well, let's face it... that old camera probably won't make it through another year of being my full-time workhorse. Especially since I've never had it serviced or checked in the whole time I've owned it. 

So, I've watched eBay, checked daily deal sites like, scoured Craigslist and  Facebook Marketplace.  I refused to spend more than $500. 

I know that that seems like a big chunk of money for a camera, however, the model I was after was between $800 and $1,200 brand new.  I wanted something barely used, and I wanted it cheap. 

I became rather obsessive in checking. Morning, noon and night. I'd look locally and then check a little further away. I contemplated driving as much as four hours away to pick  a camera up from someone selling it. 

On Tuesday, my compulsive checking paid off. On a whim between laying out pages, I checked Facebook Marketplace. (And since we all know that Facebook knows EVERYTHING you do online, it was the first thing to pop up.)

There it was... the camera I was after, with a nice lens, and in Middletown. The price was well below what I wanted to spend, and so, I messaged the guy. 

I got myself an almost brand-new Canon t7i. The guy was selling it because his girlfriend decided a GoPro was easier for doing her online videos for makeup tutorials. He just wanted it gone. She apparently had tried to use it around five times, and desided it was too complicated. 

Total score. (To be completely honest, I got my last camera in a very similar manner. Someone bought it for video and found out it didn't have an external mic jack AFTER they bought it.)

The t7i is touted as an entry-level camera.  I've noticed it has scene modes, and a great auto mode in the few test shots I took. My excitement came from the ability to pair it with my phone. 

While it sounds silly, there were far pricier models with bells and whistles that I didn't need. I doubled my sensors, upgraded the low light shooting. The ISO is double from what I had. 

Using my phone as a shutter release and being able to instantly pop the photo from my camera to Instagram, facebook or even to a website post... THAT was the thing I needed. 

So, I began trying the camera on some goofy things. The betta fish on my desk, the sushi I ate for lunch, a sunset on the way home Wednesday.  My four-legged friend Abby wasn't impressed as I fired off shot after shot in low-light on the bed, testing the settings and how this camera reacted compared to the last one. 

With a slight amount of confidence in my abilities with the upgrade, I took the camera out Wednesday night and laid it down on the hood of the truck. I paired it with my phone and set the shutter speed on bulb. I shrugged my shoulders and gave it a shot. 

After tweaking a few settings in the first three photos, I hit the button on my phone and waited a full minute before I released it.  (Technically it was 64 seconds, but who's counting?)

I looked at the resul and was pleasantly surprised.  Sure, it wasn't perfect... I didn't expect it to be on my fourth try. However, the photo I got put a rather large smile on my face. A little more time and some trying to perfect it, and I'll be taking photos of the night sky like a pro. 

I guess sometimes, the stars line up right where you need them to, when you need them to do it. 


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