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Monthly Archives: September 2010
The photo above was taken during Mike’s Camera Zoo Safari last Saturday – see my previous post for a couple additional photos. I decided to continue a little bit further with the story because it’s a bit of a cautionary tale.
While shooting in the birdhouse I upped the ISO to 800 to give me a faster shutter speed and I switched from center-weighted metering to spot metering so I would be assured of exposing any birds properly. Trouble is, when I left I neglected to set the ISO back to something reasonable -I had been shooting 400-and I forgot to set the spot metering back to center-weighted. The ISO was not that much of an issue, the D90 can handle 800 very easily. But the spot metering gave me a lion with a nicely exposed mane with everything else way too bright. I was able to recover some of the detail in the highlights, but as you can see along the top of his nose is a slice of nothing but white. If highlights are clipped, as in this case, it means there’s no data there to recover and you’re stuck.
It’s still a nice photo though. After I worked with it a bit in NX2 the colors are deeper, more saturated. If not for the nose (and that bit of blown out white under his chin), I’d really like this shot. Remember, don’t get so caught up in the moment that you forget to make adjustments to your camera settings – unless you prefer to put it in Auto everyth ing so you can run and gun and hope for the best.
By the way, if you have an extra $13,000 lying around that you’re not using, I would love to have that lens. It’s the Nikon 600mm f/4. I’ll pay shipping!
Coming up in Sunday’s post – my adventures taking bison photos at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Preserve. We’ll be going in at 6:30 a.m. to get up close and personal.
Thanks for reading!
No, this is not a self portrait.
Mike’s camera sponsors a Denver Zoo Safari twice a year giving people a chance to demo some high-end equipment that they normally would only salivate over. I attended yesterday wearing a one of those lobster bibs to stay dry. Like I said in my original post – writing something humorous is hard! At any rate, I made a little bit of a tactical mistake by taking only SD cards – I thought Nikon high-end cameras were dual card slots, one for Compact Flash (CF) cards and the other for SD. No deal. I ended up carrying around the lowly Nikon D90, which is being discontinued and replaced by the camera I plan to purchase after the new year, the D7000. Attached to it I had the Nikon 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR (Vibration Reduction) lens.
What a sweet combo!
Many of the shots I took were handheld and they turned out sharp as a tack. When we went into the birdhouse to do some shooting I put the ISO at 800 (I never go above 400 on my D80, and I’m not thrilled about doing that). I’d heard when the D90 first came out that it had very good high ISO capabilities so I figured, what the heck, I’m here to do some testing. All I can say is wow! At 800, the color is wonderful and the noise is minimal. The photo below was taken at 800 and has had no post-processing, except cropping. It’s the way it came out of the camera. Impressive. While I can’t prove it, it seems the D90′s CMOS sensor’s dynamic range is better the D80′s CCD dynamic range.
I wandered around the zoo for about three hours carrying this setup and simply had a blast. Being able to zoom in on an animal as if you were standing next to it is a tremendous benefit for photographers shooting in a zoo. You try to avoid showing the man-made items, which in the Denver zoo is difficult at best, making it appear the animal is in the wild. I couldn’t do it with all the shots, but a lot of them turned out with the animal isolated enough or the background blurred to the point of being unrecognizable that you wouldn’t know if I’d returned from the zoo or returned from a real safari.
If I had an extra $1600 lying around, the Nikon 80-400 lens would be mine, instead it’ll take a strong position in my wish list.
Thanks for reading,
I went to a photo seminar Monday evening – the “Capturing the Light” tour with Dave Ziser. I assumed it was all about lighting and doing portraits correctly, and in a way it was. What I didn’t realize was Dave’s specialty is wedding photography – about 90% of his business is generated from it – I suppose the other 10% is doing his tours and books. He’s a very energetic, enthusiastic guy who talks a mile a minute (at least for the seminar he did) and has been in photography for over thirty years. He knows his stuff and embraces new technology, making use of blogs, Facebook and iPads for marketing. It was an enjoyable evening though it felt a bit rushed. Scheduled to last until 10:30 it went until 11, but very few people left early – there were a lot of door prizes – and I guess, like me, they hung out until the very end. I didn’t win by the way, but in addition to the door prizes the seminar sponsors supplied plenty of money-off coupons, one of which will end up saving me nearly the price of registration.
The photo above came out of a short hike near Roxborough Park in July. I was feeling uninspired – the scenery was bland, as was the light and I kept hoping for something that would provoke a sense of excitement. A large field of Goldenrod prompted me to try some abstracts with the result what you see here. Proof that once in a while inspiration finds you. I have difficulty trying to title photos, usually wanting to give them some obscure name such as “Abstract No 12″ (where are the other 11?) but this was easy: “Green Flames”. Using a slow shutter speed I moved the camera up and down rapidly as I shot. The result is very pleasing.
Saturday is the Mike’s Camera Zoo Safari and Photo shoot – I’ll be there trying out some of the new Nikon equipment. Maybe I can play around with the D700! Or a fast zoom lens such as Nikon 200-400 f/4. That’s some nice stuff. Hopefully I’ll get a few keepers out of the event – look for it here Sunday evening!
Have a great weekend!
I’ve lived in Colorado off and on for over 30 years and during that time made numerous trips to the little mountain town of Estes Park. It’s an extremely popular destination for a daytrip from Denver and it neighbors Rocky Mountain National Park, another popular location. Usually we’ll frequent the various, quirky gift shops in Estes and return home with some trinket, or perhaps some salt-water taffy or a candy apple. It makes for a full day. Whenever we would come back to Denver via highway 7 through Meeker I’ve always admired a little church we’d see, and I’d always make a promise to myself to come and shoot some photos of it, knowing full well that it’s probably been photographed a million times. It took a long time, but I’ve fulfilled that promise to myself and this is the result.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the photo you see here – it’s an HDR (High Dynamic Range) combination of three separate photos take at different exposure levels , one under exposed, one normal exposure and the third over exposed. The three photos are then combined into a single image using a dedicated program (Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro have these capabilities built in) that provides the viewer a closer representation of the scene at the time of the original exposure. A normal exposure (see example below), can suffer clipped highlights, especially in the sky and as you may already know, if you have blown highlights, there is no data to recover and you have simply lost that part of the picture. We’re used to seeing the sky and land simultaneously and our eyes have adapted to the differences, but the sensor (or film) in your camera sees it as it really is – the sky during the day, even cloudy days, is considerably brighter than land areas. If you expose for the sky, the land portion will be underexposed. If you expose for the land, the sky will likely be blown out. HDR photos combine the best part of the exposures and can provide a realistic looking final print. I say ‘can provide a realistic’, since you’ll frequently see HDR photos that have been manipulated into fantasy landscapes. They can be very appealing done right, but that’s another post!
Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain any interior shots of the Chapel on the day of this photo – it was an early Saturday morning and the chapel was locked. When I was able to see the interior on another day it was overrun with tourists, but it will definitely be worth trying to get there when its less crowded.
That’s it for today, hope you’ve enjoyed the post and watch for an update around Thursday or so. Please leave a comment if you’d like.
Hello, my name is John and this is a blog about all things photographic. I’ll talk about photography in general, the camera gear and software I use for post-processing and some of the techniques I’ve found useful. I’ll occasionally review a photography related book. A poem here and there. I’ll try to insert a bit of humor as well but humor, like art, is in the eye of the beholder and writing something funny is much more difficult than tossing out a one-liner at a party for a cheap laugh. Comments will be welcome of course, but please, nothing that could be taken as offensive. If you think it might be an unpleasant comment, it probably is.
The frequency of posts is an issue I haven’t fully resolved yet – once a week certainly, but should I keep it to a schedule, say, twice a week, Sunday and Thursday? Or maybe I should go with a definite once a week post and play it by ear for any more than that. For the time being, that’s the way I’ll go.
But mostly I’ll post photos and if you like what you see, you can visit my website (coming soon) and see the related gallery. If you really like what you see, it’ll be available for purchase at a reasonable price.
In an effort not to bore right off the bat, I’ll consider this entry completed. As time goes by, you’ll learn more about me – if you want; in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the first image I’ve decided to post. Considering autumn is closing in fast, I’m posting an image from a hike on Kenosha Pass in 2007.
Gear: Nikon D80, Tokina 19-35mm Lens as 35mm, f/14, 1/80 second, handheld