Friday, October 22, 2010

At a Concert

Just images, nothing striking or particular about them, except for the fact that they were taken with the D700 during the Middlewest Festival in DeKalb, IL.

I'd like to remember the name of this group from somewhere in Wisconsin. They managed to mix rock and folk in a pleasant way, avoiding the pitfalls of each form. The string players were good, as one can see...

I was using my AF 80-200 for this series. Even though I like shooting wide open, I chose here to go a bit off the beaten path and closed it just a little. However, for the image below...

... I went all the way to f16, 1/320, at ISO 1000 (why not? This camera can do it), just to make the star visible toward the top edge. Neat, huh?

More concert images to follow... and to prove that one can always have fun with this camera and a good hunk of glass!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recent discoveries

Recent discovery: underexpose by a third of a stop when there's a lot of blue sky in the shot.

Another recent discovery: the (much maligned) AF-S 24-120 VR lens makes an excellent trip companion for the D700.

Blue skies in the Antigua Guatemala hotel at which we stayed. It was "La Quinta de las Flores" (and I don't mind linking the website here!); excellent service and the rooms were clean, nice and quiet. Now, the shot above had to be slightly underexposed in order to bring out the intensity of the colors.

Another case in which a third or two thirds of a stop of underexposure made a significant difference in the rendering of the sky. As for the red, it acquired a nicer, deeper tone, like wine.

This is the central plaza of Antigua Guatemala. I believe it's the North side, but I'm not sure. At the end of this stretch, one comes to a street known as "Calle del Arco" because there's a beautiful overpass that joins two buildings together.

Again, the old trick... and some day I'll learn how to correct the 24mm barrel distortion that my AF-S 24-120 lens causes on images like this one.

Happy wanderings... and let's hope I get back to topic (that is, "Notes," offered earlier) some day!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

June 2010 out of town

We had a busy summer... and it started with our son's birthday in May. He turned one, so I got myself a Nikon S2 with a 50mm f1.4 lens to celebrate. A far cry from this digital behemoth, but incredibly pleasant to use. I know it'll be even more pleasant once the rangefinder gets aligned and the viewfinder a bit cleaner... Here it is!

The camera probably was manufactured in 1955, and sold along with the lens as a kit. Those were the good ole days...

[Ironic statement]Why leave DeKalb, where I was getting images of this quality[/Ironic statement]? Well... it was the summer, we had some traveling planned, some we had to do, and some we owed to ourselves.

How many times can one photograph a chair, no matter the OOF areas? Let me count the ways...

That's why we loaded our car with stuff, clothes and all kinds of things, child included, and went to Washington DC for a professional conference. Where else could I take a photograph that echoes Gordon Parks's "American Gothic, Washington DC"? At least, that's what came to my mind when I looked at this Asian lady cleaning a house that displayed a conspicuous American flag...

Somewhere in Georgetown, not far from Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Before you get on my case and call me names for comparing myself and my snapshot to a classic work of art, allow me to reiterate that the image above reminded me of the one by Parks. I wasn't aiming at recreate it, or even top it (who can?). It was just something that came to me immediately, when I saw the lady through the window. Nothing more, nothing less. I know very well who I am, and I am not Gordon Parks.

Four young women, Antigua Guatemala.

We finished the month with ten days in Guatemala (where I'm from). From June 19 to June 29, we stayed at my brother's home and also managed to spend a week in Antigua Guatemala. We walked, ate, looked at things and I took many photographs, with gear perfectly made for traveling: my D700, with my AF-S 24-120 f3.5-5.6 VR, my AF 70-210 f4-5.6, and my Sigma AF 105mm f2.8.

See? I'm ready to update this blog a bit more often... and finally get to the topic of "Notes" at last!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Comments? Later!

I meant to post something here about how to add comments to your photographs using your D700... but I just packed it already, and feel kinda lazy to get it out of the bag. After all, we're leaving for Washington DC very soon!

Which leads me to think about travel photography.

Good experiences? Bad experiences?

The one above and all below are from Philadelphia. Chairs (50mm f1.4) from a French restaurant.

The market, when the cookies are half price... (AF-S 24-70 f2.8)

A view of a street parallel to Chestnut. There are two hotels facing each other on the preceding block (a Hilton and a very traditional Philadelphia place, whose name I cannot recall). Needless to say, that's the end of Broadway street in front of us. And a nice building to boot!

Never had a problem with anyone. Of course, I was also pushing Edmund's stroller (with him in it), so that makes a great cover for someone wishing to shoot street... views.

Again, what experiences do you have about photographing on a trip? Oddly enough, whenever I've taken my Nikons, people take me for a photojournalist. With other cameras... I'm simply ignored.

Do people give you grief? Or do you give people grief? Let's hear about it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Having some fun

Here are some photos, just for the sake of posting. Later, I'll get into adding comments to them.

DeKalb, Snowy Classics

We thought we were done with winter, but there was a last kick in February. Then, the sun came...Sunny Classics

Finally, people broke out of their homes and into the streets: summer has come!

Time to take a peek at life's little treasures...

So that's all for today, folks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In-Camera color editing

Can be done!

Here, take a peek...

Photograph with my trusty AF-S 24-70, WB at 2500ºK, set with the WB in camera. Cannot recall the ISO, but must have been nicely high (like 3000 or so).

Exact same photograph, but with the color cast corrected... in the body! No PS used in either shot.

Now, let's get to the procedure.

Here I would post photographs of my camera menus and you'd be able to see them just as I do, but since I only have ONE functional digital camera (the other, a small Panasonic, was purchased only to photograph eBay bait), my dear readers will have to contend with my prose.

  • Now, turn on your camera.
  • Push the Menu button.
  • Go to the Retouch Menu.
  • Select "Color Balance" and then click OK.
  • The camera will take you to your shots, stored in the card.
  • Select the one with a cast problem.
  • Click OK and you will see a screen showing the preview on the top right, with a quadrant and a pointer in the lower right side of the screen. You can move the pointer 0r cursor with the multidirectional button or with your commands; at the same time you move the cursor over a color area, you can see the changes this makes on the photograph (however small the view). Once you have reached the tone you can live with, click OK again...


Another way is to view the photo in your screen, and click OK. This will take you to a menu that includes D-Lighting, Red-Eye Correction, Trim, Monochrome, Filter Effects and Color Correction. Select Color Correction, and it'll take you to the screen with the color quadrant and the image preview.

Try it... and move it to your personal list of most-often used functions, aka "My Menu." Once you've done it often enough, you won't need to correct color in PS again... or at least you won't have to wait until downloading it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things one does with a 50mm lens

Here are some samples... with a 50mm f1.4 lens, not always wide open.

Restaurant in Philadelphia, at night.

Mimi, looking out the window.

One chair from our backyard, covered in snow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's been a while

It has been a while since my last post... and in that time, we celebrated Christmas with Edmund, the three of us went to Philadelphia in business (got some shots), and even got some additional toys to play with: a nice Nikon AF 50mm f1.4 lens.

Some results of that lens (among other toys) below.

For instance, I'm not really crazy about the OOF renderings here. Granted, they're great, but I think I got into a much larger problem than with any f2.8 lens. See these things:

First comes a cake (California citrus cake, for those who may care; it's essentially a pound cake) end, photographed with my new AF 50mm f1.4 lens, wide open.

Below, the same cake and almost the same composition, with the trusty AF-S 24-70 f2.8, at f2.8

Is there a difference?

To me, yes: it's in the detail of the cake texture. These shots are not, BTW, sharpened or manipulated at all. In fact, I didn't even resize them. At this point, I'm on the fence about this lens... probably because I bought it for the rare ocassions in which an f2.8 won't suffice.

Like this one below... also done with the 50mm lens.

The focus is on the end of the arm, that circular, capricious, metallic image of a curl. The back of the bench is already blurred, and the background... irrecognizable.

After thinking about it for a while, and comparing other (irrelevant) shots, I came to the conclusion that bokeh is an acquired taste. I do have it, but not yet that ever present, or at the expense of a certain amount of sharpness. In fact, I now believe that this lens really shines at f1.8 more than fully open... but, you know what? I'll keep it.

More on toys later. At least, as I reported earlier, my AF-ED 80-2oo f2.8 came back home, like new, from the folks at Authorized Photo Service in Morton Grove, IL. I even got the silly request for a name plate replacement (mine had lost it). They were able to find one, and now the lens looks (and works) better than ever.

So long!