Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Long Reach Dilemma

Photographs I have managed to capture with my only long lens: a Nikon AF 80-200 f2.8, first version.   These ones were taken on a visit to the Midway Historical Museum in Rockford IL, in June 2011 (back then, when I kinda gave up on this blog because some photos of mine posted elsewhere were stolen).

Blacksmith at work

Rider known as Johnny Baker

One of the "Rough Riders" performing that day.

I think this one is Texas Rose...

Mark Twain in one stop of his lecture trip.

For some reason, the fourth shot is a bit soft.  I believe I switched the sensor from FX to DX, and also the priority must have been set to shoot over focus (later I'll get to this).  In any event, this place tends to offer this kind of events, during which they recreate a historical period or event, and have very specialized performers doing their shows in the grounds.
Now, I'm facing a critical moment: except for trips like this, I find that my long lens gets next to no use.  In fact, it's now down with sticky shutter blades (which means they don't close down when the camera shoots and a small aperture has been set).  I am very inclined to sell it and keep the rest of my zooms, but then... what if I need one long lens for events like the one I documented above?
What would you do?
Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To see the focusing point... and other things

I had offered some information about how to see your focusing points in the LCD after shooting.  It helps, because it tells you where the camera focused, which can explain sharpness problems.
  • First, go to the Playback menu.
  • Scroll down to Display mode.
  • Click OK to make your choices.
  • Where it says "Basic Photo Info" you'll have a choice.  Select "Focus Point".
  • Click OK to return to the Playback Menu. 
After this adjustment, all photos (even in Slide Show mode) will show where the camera focused for every shot.  Some people may find it distracting, but you may find it useful to know what your camera was thinking, or simply to find out whether it did what you wanted it to do.  I set this during my last digital experience in Toledo, and liked it very much, as I could see sometimes the reason of some shots when I liked them.

Speaking of which... here are more.  This time, from Salamanca, where we stayed for about 3 days.

The first is a view of the Plaza Mayor, which I like so much it became the wallpaper in my laptop (to this day).  The second, something very Spanish: a "Tuna," which is a student group (singers and string instrument players), and they perform traditional songs.  The third is the same Plaza Mayor, but this time at night.  Fourth, street performer, who had his dog to make sure people would stop and leave some money for the pet.  In all cases, I used the same lens: Nikon AF-S 24-120 f4.  It's heavy, it's big... but it's fairly devoid of distortion.  Very occasionally there may be flare, but it may have been dust on the filter.  In any event, I was quite happy with it, and will probably take it again whenever I go on trips.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Just some shots I like

I'm back!

I won't elaborate about the abandon in which I left this blog.  Let's say that I got over whatever it was, and now I'm sort of back with a kind of vengeance.  And images!

Without further ado... I've been traveling lately, and among my photographic fortune, I've collected some photos I like, all done with a nice AF-S 24-120 f4.  Here they are.

Street light in corner.  This was right before the Corpus Christi celebration.

Inside a house in the Tendillas Street, where there is one of the celebrated "Patios Toledanos."

Candles in a "Patio Toledano" in a house in the Callejón del Pozo Amargo.

Toledo, from the other side of the Tajo river.
More stuff from Spain coming up soon... along with a little trick to help you see where the camera focused (this is, when you decide to review your shots in the LCD screen).  Let me figure it out (again... I did set it in my camera long before returning to this blog) and I'll come back to tell you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Zooming out with a slow flash

Some days ago I tried this technique with some unsuspecting subjects at home... Gear: Nikon D700, AF-S 24-70 f2.8 lens, and a Nikon SB-600 flash set to bounce light from the ceiling.

Basically, it just takes setting the flash at Slow, and the ISO at 400 OR 640 (anything below 800, but then it also depends on the environmental light). With the camera in P exposure mode, I simply turn the zoom ring while the shutter curtains are open (which can be about 1 second). Here are the effects...

Edmund, the ghostly kid, prances about while I photograph him with a slow flash while zooming out a little. The effect is weird...

Here we go again... his head is blurred in the edges, as if he were a child in a Fringe episode.

This is the best of them; his head seems to blend with the book behind. He must have moved at the same time I shot, and if we add the slow zoom out, the effect is quite scary.

Why did I get into this? Because one evening, Mimi was keeping me company and it occurred to me that it would be a good moment to use her as an experimental subject. Which I did...

Unlike other warnings we find elsewhere... go ahead, try this at home. In fact, I'd like to do this at a wedding, just for the heck of it.

Of course, my other photos of Mimi on top of the chair may come up here later... just to show what happens when you point the flash head to the ceiling, or to the wall behind you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More results of the DX-ing crop

Here we have some unexpected guests, who came to sample the berries of our trees in the middle of the big February 2011 blizzard. The first two shots were done by "cropping" the image with the DX-sized sensor, with an AF 80-200 f2.8 zoom lens (this time, at f4.5 or f5.6). As a result, we have the viewing field of a 300mm lens at the long end of the zoom. Neat...

February 1st, 2011. In the middle of a brutal blizzard, these two guys (a couple maybe, but they have both the same plumage) parked on one of the trees close to the house. One of them was dangerously perched on the branches, picking out berries. The other remained on the trunk, fluffing his feathers and trying to get something out of the bark.

February 2, 2011. They're back! They survived! Here's one of them, hanging out on a branch, apparently after cleaning it from berries.

On February 3, 2011, I saw them again. This time I forgot to switch the image view from FX to DX, so you're looking at an image shot at 200mm. Not too bad... but could be better.

So, those were the news. Later on... more news!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In a pinch for a long lens? Just DX it!

There are moments when you are close, but not enough. And whenever your long lens ain't long enough... Just DX it!

Here's the proof. Possum in my garden, on a snowy December day, with my AF 80-200 f2.8 lens wide open and at the longer end. Any details? Any revealing shot of the antics of Illinois wildlife? Worth the cover of National Geographic?

Of course not!

But then, what do you think of this one below? One can see the hair detail, heck, you can smell the fellow's breath!

Same lens, same focal length, just a few seconds (and some shots) after the one on the top.

Miracle trick? Easy, I "cropped" the sensor, changed the image area from FX to DX.

  • Easy as pie! First, you turn on the camera.
  • Then, click on the Menu button.
  • Go to the Shooting Menu.
  • Scroll to Image Area and click OK
  • You'll find an option whether to set Auto DX or to Select Image Area. Take this latter choice.
  • Now you can use the camera as if it had a cropped sensor (and you were using DX glass). Thus, my 80-200 became something like a 112-280mm zoom lens... and the possum was, in fact, photographed at the 280mm end.

Now, this is not rocket science and I'm sure most Nikon D700 users figured it out... but I just wanted to post the photographs of my friend the possum, and this was a good excuse.

Care for an indie rocker from Rockford IL? By the way, I didn't DX this one. I was simply very close.

Take care!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unexpected feature, or just plain luck?

One thing nobody has mentioned about the AF-S 24-70 f2.8 lens is its amazing minimum focusing distance. It's remarkable! How did I find out? On Saturday, Jan 15th 2011 we went to Chicago, meaning to take the heir to Shedd Acquarium. However, fate intervened, and we ended up going to a much less frustrating place: the Garfield Park Conservatory. There are lots of exotic plants there!

Just get a load of this...

This yellow wonder was in the children's play area, where, as you can imagine, we spent some time while my wife made sure the heir got entertained.

Right by the water exhibit, a nice illustration of composition, color and contrast. Forgot to pay attention to the name... though, to be quite honest, I didn't see any.

I must admit this is not a plant, but a toy. It was a type of maracca made out of something like a gourd, and covered with a nice lacing of thread and pebbles.

All the photographs with the exception of the last one, were taken with the AF-S 24-70 f2.8. True, they don't show how close this lens can get, but then, see this one.

If I remember correctly, this is from the Bromeliae family... And if it's not, well, it wasn't too far from the Bromeliae. In any event, I got very close to the focusing point, and may in fact venture that I was at about four or six inches away.

Did Nikon design the lens to be this way? I remember it's a professional lens, but that also makes me wonder whether professional glass is expected to be this versatile. Imagine... this is fast glass, nicely sharp, and can do macro in a pinch!

Not that it's a magic bullet. Remember: it can flare.

But, for whatever it's worth, that was a nice discovery.

So long!