I’m not sure what happened to March, but I’ve got big plans for April.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m trying to become a more ruthless editor. I got many well exposed, sharp images of bees in my backyard last week, but this one stood out as my favorite. I shared some of the others on Facebook, but I should not have done so. Others have said it: if you only show your best work, people come to believe you are a good photographer. So do you, and so you do. This will be my new editing mantra: There can be only one.
My father died on January 26. He had been on hospice care for almost two years, so as my wife put it, “It wasn’t a surprise, but still managed to be a shock.”
Everyone grieves differently, and to most, I do not appear to grieve at all. My knee-jerk response to most forms of stress is to get busy. Contact the authorities; review the paperwork; take care of business. Sorrow has to sneak up and jump me unaware. As it happens, sorrow is quite the ninja warrior. I was collecting photographs for the slideshow embedded below, and the thought hit me: I will never photograph my father again. That did it. A good long cry. And the pleasant realization that in most photos of my father, he is laughing.
A special thanks to friend Myrna Cambianica, who encouraged me to keep shooting, through thick and thin. Thanks to these photos, I can grieve with a smile on my face. http://youtu.be/9z–2Bo511E
A reputable blogger has referred to Nikon’s D610 as “the camera nobody wants.” That description carries a bit of a sting for those of us that own the camera, but I understand. The D610 was hurriedly released as a PR fix after the D600 debacle (many D600s came with a defective shutter mechanism that threw oil onto the sensor, and Nikon was slow and clumsy in addressing this). A few months after I bought my D610, Nikon released the D750, which costs a bit more but includes a better focusing system and built-in wi-fi. These are things I want, but I am not earning enough money from photography to buy and sell cameras willy-nilly, so I am sticking (stuck?) with my D610 for at least another year or two. Besides, the resale value of the D610 has dropped like a rock. Continue reading
A lot of things didn’t go right during my most recent opportunity to photograph dance, but the better images show improvement in exposure. For years, I was so committed to recovering shadow detail that I consistently overexposed dance images. Now I’m trying harder to make peace with the shadows, and I’m finding some success. Still a lot of variables to control, but this is going to help. I shot using matrix metering and -.7 exposure compensation, but I still had to bring down the highlights quite a bit in Lightroom. Usually, there was detail to be recovered in the highlights, so -.7 might be a good safe compromise in this situation.
As I mentioned in the last post, I’m working with new software (Lightroom) and a new camera (Nikon D7100). Yesterday it occurred to me that I’m really working with three new cameras, because I’ve only had the Fujifilm X100s for slightly over a year, and the Nikon D610 for less than a year. I have not learned how to operate any of these cameras as comprehensively as I did my old Nikon D300, but I look forward to digging deeper.
Since the D7100 is newest and purpose-purchased for wildlife, I’ve taken it to Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve to learn how it works, and here is the main thing I have discovered: I need to start using a tripod or monopod, because 24 megapixels exaggerates my lack of steadiness when using the equivalent of a 510mm lens (200mm + 1.7x teleconverter on 1.5x cropped sensor = 510mm). I’ve gotten some sharp images, but a pretty low keeper rate so far. I’m not sure if I’m mis-focusing or shaking, but I’m working on it.
Usually I fret that I have too much gear, but yesterday I had the opportunity to use all three cameras. I took a long walk with the FujiFilm X100s and got a couple of grab shots, used the D7100 for some backyard colors, and brought out the D610 when my son wanted a picture under a very complex lighting scenario.
A lot of angst goes into each camera or software decision for me, but every piece of new gear also gets me to play and experiment like I did as a youngster, and that stimulates learning. I’m also somewhat amazed at how different my images look when processed through Lightroom rather than Aperture, which I used for years. I’m still not sure if the look is better, but it is very, very different. Guess I’ll just have to play more to learn more.
I traded my remaining D7000 for a D7100. Now I have, in effect, two versions of the same camera: the D7100 and D610. Almost identical in operation, but one DX sensor and one FX sensor. With my collection of DX and FX lenses, it’s a very versatile combination.
I’m using the D7100 for wildlife, the D610 for events and portraiture, and the Fujifilm X100s for travel. So far, so good, but it’s obviously cutting into my blogging time. Hopefully I’ll have more to report on the 24 megapixel dynamic duo soon. One thing I’ll be writing about: The buffer on the D7100 really let me down during a pelican feeding frenzy at Bolsa Chica. I’d be tracking the birds toward the water and the shutter would slow and then stop just before they struck. Very frustrating.
At the same time, I switched from Aperture to Lightroom for post-processing. The learning curve is steep for a lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but so far I like the results.