Youth & Government: An AVC’s Perspective

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For the past five years (since my eighth grade year), I attended the yearly Youth & Government Model Convention in Harrisburg, PA… If you aren’t familiar with the conference, about five hundred high school students gather… they write bills, elect servant leaders, and pretend to be government officials for a weekend. I’ve heard similar variations from many YAG’ers that, “When I step into the Capitol, I feel twenty years older and six inches taller.” I must admit, its somewhat shivering to politic in the rotunda and use a senators desk. Since falling in love with the program early on, I felt compelled to give back to the organization in some way… So this year, I joined the program’s Alumni Volunteer Corps. I got to work with program staff to help run the conference. It was an incredible time as always… I’m glad to have done it, and will return next year if my schedule permits. No doubt it was a different experience, but still a rewarding one. As always, the Knoch YAG Club traveled to Gettysburg on Thursday — before the Friday-Sunday conference. A good friend and past teacher of mine, Brad Pflugh, gave an awesome tour of the battlefield as always.

Anyways, what you’ve all been waiting for… Since I just got my new Canon XTi (400D) Digital SLR, I figured the trip would be a great opportunity to test out its capabilities.

I took a few pictures with tripod that turned out incredibly sharp… Large shutter time with a small aperture — around f/18.0.

On the contrary: Grainy Grainy Grainy. I set the camera at ISO1600 to achieve a few indoor pictures without a flash. I had no idea how grainy ISO1600 could be… And unfortunately left it that way for a long part of the conference. A, what should have been obvious lesson, was learned: ISO1600=BAD.

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Luckily, some of the pictures I did use an external flash on, and stepped the ISO down to 200 or so. Those shots came out alright. The shot at the right is of Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll and Representative Brian Ellis. It was really nice to meet them both –and that they both dedicated time to the program for the weekend. Representative Ellis is actually an Alumni of Youth and Government — something that says a lot about the program.

Using my Canon EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 lens with a .5x wide angle converter, I was able to get some cool wide angle shots of the house and senate chambers. Some of these pictures came with good clarity — Some of the wider angle shots have some vignetting, however… I expected it with this filter, though. Perhaps I’ll look into getting a Tamron (Canon are too expensive) wide angle lens.

I got to borrow a Canon EF f/1.4 50mm prime lens from a friend of mine, Andy Horchler. The lens took a few beautiful shots — but not as nice as they should have been had I been more familiar with the camera itself. The Canon EF f/1.8 50mm prime lens is only about $70 and might be worth the investment — It will probably be the next purchase towards my camera.

Generally, for never using this body or lens before, the pictures turned out decent… I learned a lot about it, and expect future shoots to turn out better. I took about 1800 shots for the entire weekend — between Gettysburg and Harrisburg. Just a little under 500 photos turned out decent. Check the gallery under Youth and Government for shots in Harrisburg — and check under Gettysburg Another note — beware they are all full resolution (or slightly cropped) 10-mega pixel shots. The files are large, and if you view them at full resolution, may be slow to download. Finally, if you want to reproduce any of the pictures, just please seek permission and email me!

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