Photo Of The Day: White Tide

_DSC7950_edited-4-1Dawn breaks over one of the cotton fields here.  This was a good year for cotton in coastal North Carolina thanks to the unusually wet weather over the summer and the heat.

I shot this with a Nikon D800E Camera using a 24-120 f/4 lens.  The D800E has jaw dropping resolution thanks to its 36 mp sensor and the disablement of a low pass filter which increases sharpness measurably. I was blown away by the detail in the low light of the early morning.  As with most things electronic these days, the D800E has already been replaced by the next big thin, the D810,  but most of the improvements are in the video side of the camera which I never use so I suspect the D800E will be in my bag for a long time to come.

A word about the ads WordPress is now selling and plastering on individual blogs.  I don’t mind them putting static ads on my site but I think video ads are obtrusive and detract from the blog which I’m sure is exactly the idea.  Anyway, it does not sit well with me.  I’m going to look into creating my own site and getting rid of WordPress and its ads.  If I move on, I will give lots of notice and give all of you who are nice enough to drop by,  my forwarding address.

 

Thanks for the visit

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On The Fence…

A dark blue hybrid clematis soaks up the North Carolina Sun as it winds its way along the top of a white picket fence here on the farm.  Very striking color in the brilliant sun I think but my favorite is the old fashioned Sweet Autumn Clematis which usually blooms here in the late summer.  You don’t even have to look to know its blooming, you can smell it.  Like everything else so far this year, I’m pretty sure it too will bloom early.

In the I hope its not too good to be true department,  I hear Nikon is preparing to take the wraps off a new full frame dslr, the D600. Lots of bells and whistles including a 24 mp sensor, onboard motor for lens drive, 5fps shooting and much more…for the rumored price of 15 hundred bucks.  Hope thats true.  Stay tuned.  Thanks for the look. Have a great evening.

Taking Control!

It was right around a year ago that I began to consciously think about shooting everything in Manual Program and breaking out of my usual Aperture Mode ritual ( setting the aperture and letting the camera compute the shutter speed).   It was a hard habit to break.  I even resorted to putting a little sliver of masking tape on the mode selector switch reminding me to dial up “M”.   I embarked on this quest after looking at many of my early slides taken with fully manual 35mm SLR’s years ago.  Film is film of course but aside from that, the light was ever so slightly different.  The Aperture Programmed digital shots seemed to be just a bit  overexposed in spite of dialing back exposure compensation.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the dynamic was different and it appeared to be the light not film grain etc..    I got motivated.  My starting point was always f/8 and 1/125th of a second.  I’d work from there.  At first it was quite tedious but quite quickly,  everything became intuitive.    Now, I hardly even think about changing the shooting program.  It just stays in Manual pretty much all of the time.  There are special situations when I’ll revert to aperture priority.  wildlife shots come to mind.  Particularly bird shots.  But for the most part, the selector stays on “M”.

I began to wonder why I had crutched so long on the automatic and semi-automatic shooting programs in digital when I never had when shooting film.  I decided it was because of the same way a mountain gets climbed. Because it’s there.   There were no automatic shooting modes on that Nikon FM.  You loaded the film, set the aperture and shudder speed and that was it.      You learned or you didn’t get a picture.  It was that simple.  That habit carried over to my later film cameras :  A Minolta SRT 101 and my current Nikon F100.  Just yesterday I loaded a roll of Fuji Velvia in my F100 and it never occurred to me to do anything about the shooting mode.  It just stayed in Manual.  I suppose I had the mindset that digital was different and so it is many ways but in many other ways, photography is still photography.

Anyway, I’ve been shooting just about everything digital in Manual Mode now for about a year and yes, I solved the lighting dynamic that was bugging me.  It was a simple matter of underexposing by a hair.  Such a simple thing to do in Manual Mode where I control the camera. See you next time on most of this same blog.

The Sharpest Image

f/8

Remember the old adage about photography: “Be there and f/8”!  Being there is self explanatory.  You want the Sunrise…..get outa the sack and get there.   But why f/8?  Answer:  Sharpness! f8 is where to go for the sharpest images!    But don‘t the small apertures (the ones with the high numbers: f20, f22, f25) produce high degrees of sharpness?  They do from front to back……but……the centrally focused image will always be sharper at an intermediate range aperture and that’s where f8 enters the equation.  (yes f9 qualifies but f8 is still king).

It’s because of diffraction. The light entering the lens bends when it hits the diaphragm blades inside the lens and when you set your aperture at the smallest f stop,  more of the light pouring through the lens is diffracted which in turns produces a fuzzier image. Hey, some of the things from those photography courses in “J” school stuck.

Of course, the wide apertures (the smaller numbers, f2.8 for example)  also produce slightly blurred images but  that’s due to the shallow depth of field that comes with the larger f stops.  Often, the depth of field is reduced so much that the focus point will be sharp but an area an inch behind it will be blurry.   Using a lens with a long focal length will create this problem as often happens with my “go to” lens, a Nikon 18-200mm VRII which “lives” on one of my D90’s.  When cranking in for a close up of a flower for example, the focus may be tack sharp on the tip of the stigma but the rest of the flower, less than an inch away,  may be blurred as in the above shot of a Carolina Jasmine bloom.   Using a smaller aperture (f8) would have reduced the fuzziness significantly.  I was after the blurr as a way of emphasizing the stigma.

I should add that this is primarily an SLR problem.  You won’t run into this too often with compact cameras which don‘t have the same shallow depth of field effect as with slrs and dslrs.

See you soon on most of this same blog.