Finding What Works for Me

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I may have found a focusing system that really works for me. More info to come…

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What I See Versus What I Read

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All of the images in this post were shot with the Nikon D7000 and 70-200 f/2.8, as I try to decide whether to keep the DX camera.

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

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Conspicuous Composition: Favorites and Challenges from The Year of Square

Most Year of Square images were last-minute, grudging snapshots, but I still tried to make the composition matter.

Most Year of Square images were last-minute, grudging snapshots, but I still tried to make the composition matter.

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:

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The Last Month of The Year of Square

As the Year of Square draws to a close, I must reflect on what I've learned about photography, and what it means that I take so many pictures in bars.

As the Year of Square draws to a close, I must reflect on what I’ve learned about photography, and what it means that I take so many pictures in bars.

This is the final month of the Year of Square. Thank goodness. Soon I’ll review the 360-ish images and figure out what I’ve learned. I fear it will have something to do with not being good at long-term self-assignments… Z

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I’m Getting Sick of Praising the FujiFilm X100s, But There It Is

One part light; one part how you see it.

One part light; one part how you see it.

I have not been shooting much lately, so I decided to bring a camera to dinner. I thought about bringing the D610 and 105 micro, but that’s what I brought last time. And besides, the X100s was already in the iPad bag (it’s a Tamrac of some sort, but I cannot find the model number on the bag and you certainly cannot expect a lazy, impatient, disorganized photographer to remember or look up such things. It holds an iPad and a pretty good mess of camera gear, although the X100s and extra batteries live in it most of the time).

Evenings like this remind me that the light is everywhere, except perhaps the Grand Canyon Caverns, and it’s up to me to do something with it. Nice to have a little camera like the X100s at the ready.

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Nikon D610 Resolution Surprise

A quick, front porch snapshot of Charman, the stray who recently adopted us.

A quick, front porch snapshot of Charman, the stray who recently adopted us.

I’ve been enjoying the Nikon 610 since December, but I was still surprised when I enlarged this quick snapshot to find this:

Wow. I did not expect this kind of detail in such a small portion of the frame.

That’s me sitting cross-legged on the front porch. The catchlight is an sb800. I did not expect this kind of detail in such a small portion of the frame.

Something tells me I can do a lot more with 24 megapixels than I have so far. Looks like it’s time to improve my shot discipline yet again!

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What I Got The X100s For

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Would one of my other cameras have provided adequate depth of field to keep both pets in focus? Probably not in this light. Besides, it would not have been hanging around my neck when I walked by the stair landing. The lightweight X100s was at the ready.

With all due respect to Chase Jarvis, we’re all sick of hearing that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” It’s just so irritatingly true. For those of us with too many cameras and too little vision, it’s nice to have rules about which camera to have with us at any given time.

I got the Fujifilm X100s last October to be my “carry everywhere” camera. Nevertheless, every time I’m about to leave the house, I agonize over which camera(s) and lens(es) to bring. Often, when I’m going to be out and about for non-photographic purposes, I remind myself, “This is what you got the Fuji for.” I then also remind myself to not end sentences with prepositions, since that is something up with which I cannot put.

Yesterday we visited a couple of wineries (and Ostrich Land!) in the Santa Ynez Valley. I was not going out to make photographs; I was going out to enjoy time with friends. This is what I got the Fuji for.

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Would a longer lens have been nice while visiting this miniature horse ranch? Sure, but the X100s challenged me to frame my images differently. Wish I’d gotten lower. Oh well.

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Preparing to feed the ostriches. Snapshots of friends are absolutely why I got the Fuji.

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I struggle with the X100s focus system for any sort of moving subject, but at f/5.6 in bright light, it is very forgiving.

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The X100s also provides better acuity and dynamic range than we have any right to expect.

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As I said, I haven’t figured out how to use the X100s for action, but sometimes I get lucky. Which is fine while snapshooting. If I was traveling to the Santa Ynez Valley to photograph Ostriches, I would bring the big bag o’ Nikons. And a couple of flashes. And maybe some light stands and umbrellas.

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I am occasionally reminded that the X100s is capable of far more than I usually get out of it. When I do my part, the camera delivers excellent images.

The lightweight X100s allows me to maneuver it into unusual positions.

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My dinner wine, reflected in the table, along with a very photogenic sky. I would have felt very self-conscious trying to shoot something like this with my Nikon D610 – at least until my third glass of wine. But I use the X100s in silent mode, so when I raise the camera and snap the frame, I’m done before anyone notices.

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