Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sports Ain't Easy!

On November 6th 2015, we all attended a volleyball game at the Convocation Center of Northern Illinois University (where I teach). There was a game: home vs. U of Toledo (OH). Our reason was that my wife (also a professor) was going to get an award at the half-time ceremony.  Not one of us had attended a game, even though we had played volleyball in our lives, so we went and I discovered that shooting sports is twice as hard... no, three times harder than I thought.

First, when one has no choice in seating, there's the problem of location.  Then, when exactly should one shoot?  Ball in the air, ball in the hands of a player, being hit, on the floor?  And, finally (to get technical... it had to happen), when and how does one focus?  On the darn ball?  On the players?

Fortunately, I let the camera make two choices: exposure and white balance (although, in the end, I decided that in the future I'll check with Live View first about the white balance).  The problem I ended up having was composition.  See for yourself...

 Where is the ball?

Isn't that a desk in the lower left corner?  When did that happen?

Half volleyball in the air...

Well... I guess there's only so much one can do with an AF 24-120 that has been cropped to show only a frame the size of an APS sensor.  But then, not everything was that bad.  At least I took some moderately decent photographs... See below.

 This is a fait accompli and the point was scored.

 And the ball in the air, right in the middle...

I really liked the two pairs of hands up in the air... and far, far away from the volleyball!

So, I learned to be happy with my results... and that I'm not in any way, a sports photographer.  How can one show the excitement of the game in one or two shots?  I guess sports shooters already know how to get their images... and, if it's not them, their editors know what to pick.  In any event, we enjoyed the evening so much we're planning on returning...

And I'll be there, with my camera and lens.  

Coming soon... Snow!!  We had lots last weekend, but I wasn't going to step out and shoot icicles like I've done in the past.  No... I have something nicer... but it's still in the card.  So long!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fairs and festivals

The midwest (where I live) is rich in local festivals and fairs, so, considering this fact, here are some illustrations of the one that takes place in my town, DeKalb, Illinois.

It's called the Cornfest.

Photobomb attempt.  In the end, she knew I was photographing her not by accident.

Two men running a food stand were making a small fortune thanks to their idea of posting their dishes in front of their window... and that was real food, not plastic imitations. See them on the right edge of the frame.

I always have liked this sign, and it looked even more cheerful against the background of the beautiful dusk sky. 

People checking out the Cornfest, walking about, hanging out... 

One ride I'd like to do: the Freak-Out.  Looks interesting... 

I will return with more photographs from other festivals, and, if I can, with the result of more experiments and other hints I may find in the vast Menu files of this camera.  Granted, it may be a few generations behind, but that doesn't mean it has to disappear.  Lots of people are still using their D700 bodies through their paces, so... let's keep it going!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Past...

I have had this camera for a long time.  So long it's been "replaced" by several newer models, like the D800, the D600, the D610 and the D750.  All of them are heavy shooters, high caliber contenders, big MP guns... but nowhere near the practicality of the D700.

Given that I've had my D700 for about six years (starting in November 2008), I think it's only fair to celebrate one more year with a look backwards.  Hence, let's go to Christmas past!

Ben, gazing at the Christmas tree, December 2008
Christmas tree decorations, December 2009.  Some things just never change...
Alley in between two buildings in DeKalb, IL (Dec 2010)
View from a hill in Valparaíso, Chile, on December 2011.
Waterman Christmas Train arriving in the station.  December 2012.

I wasn't too active in 2013, so this is a later view of some deer (center, very small) in our street in DeKalb in March 2013.
There are some photographs from this month stored somewhere in the future... and I hope to have a few images worth sharing.  In the meanwhile, let's enjoy the weather, the music and the food this holidays offer, and let's not forget to make some memories on photographic media... Merry Christmas to all!

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.