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.
Thom Hogan, whom I trust completely, asks, “Are you FX or DX?” It’s a tough question, and I suspect many Nikon shooters end up with both sensor sizes (if not more). I’ve owned several great DX Nikons: D70, D200, D300, and, currently, D7000. I bought my first FX camera last December; a Nikon D610.
Thom and others point out that the superb image quality of the DX cameras, which feature a smaller sensor than their FX counterparts, should be enough for most users. I’ve certainly been happy with mine. At least, until I got the FX camera. I keep reading that there is not much difference anymore, but my images tell a different story. Continue reading
I have been told there are no right angles in nature, but I don’t believe it. Nature’s basic operating principle is infinite diversity. I’m sure there are right angles out there somewhere.
Still, you’d have to scan the countryside pretty intently to come up with a rectangle that wasn’t man-made. Good luck finding a perfect square in a field of flowers. This, I think, was the biggest lesson of my Year of Square photo-a-day project: a square is an unnatural shape that calls attention to itself.
Hasselblad shooters and others created iconic square images, but we are accustomed to seeing photographs presented as rectangles. I found the square format challenging. All the usual “rules” of composition apply, but under tighter constraints. Three-plus weeks into the project, I produced an image that interested me: