Category Archives: Camera Settings

I Should Not Have Been Able to Do This

In 35mm equivalents, this was a 510 mm lens. Hand held. In a dark theater. Aimed at a moving subject.

In 35mm equivalents, this was a 510mm lens. Hand held. In a dark theater. Aimed at a moving subject.

UCSB Arts & Lectures brings the world’s greatest talent to Santa Barbara. I was given the opportunity to shoot the season-opening event last night: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. I was nervous, and rightfully so. I’d never shot in the venue before, and I would have ten minutes, from a fixed position, to wrangle a couple of keepers.

I needed to counter two primary obstacles: First, the distance from back-of-theater to stage was greater than any I’d worked before. Continue reading

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Best Camera, Best Lens, Wide Open, Black and White

I like the way shallow depth of field and monochrome presentation add a little bit of seriousness to the most mundane of subjects. Please don't tell The Chairman that I called him

I like the way shallow depth of field and monochrome presentation add a little bit of seriousness to the most mundane of subjects. Please don’t tell The Chairman that I called him “mundane.”

I suffer from gear-itis, and while I’m not seeking a cure, I do need to treat some of the symptoms. I’m grateful to have a collection of cameras, lenses, and flashes sufficient to tackle whatever assignment comes my way, but it also makes me lazy and indecisive, making technical rather than artistic choices.

Not quite far enough from the background for creamy out-of-focus areas, but far better subject isolation than I would have gotten at f/2.8 from the same distance.

Not quite far enough from the background for extra-creamy out-of-focus areas, but far better subject isolation than I would have gotten at f/2.8 from the same distance.

As I described in the previous post, I’m testing myself (luxuriously) by trying to limit personal work to one camera body (Nikon D610), one lens (Nikon 85mm f/1.4), and black and white output. This is great gear – better than anything I’ve owned before, but this “deprivation” exercise helps me rekindle the passion I had as a teenager who could only afford one camera body, one lens, and black-and-white film – and had the time of his life learning how to SEE things photographically.

Backgrounds are a constant nemesis to this lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but shooting the 85 wide open simplifies otherwise complex backgrounds.

Backgrounds are a constant nemesis to this lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, but shooting the 85 wide open simplifies otherwise complex backgrounds.

Quality shows. The 85 f/1.4 and D610 work very well together, letting me get sharply focused eyes and beautiful focus fall-off in the foreground and background.

Quality shows. The 85 f/1.4 and D610 work very well together, letting me get sharply focused eyes and beautiful focus fall-off in the foreground and background.

Of course, many of our day-to-day images require the OPPOSITE of my exercise: wide depth of field and full color. Vive la difference!

Of course, many of our day-to-day images require the OPPOSITE of my exercise: wide depth of field and full color. Vive la difference!

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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Motivation

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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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Travel and Vacation

Great Gear, Bad Decisions

Matrix metering really doesn't know what to do in a situation like this. It's up to us to manage exposure.

Matrix metering really doesn’t know what to do in a situation like this. It’s up to us to manage exposure, but we need the right tools to do so.

It’s confession time. After the frustrations of the December dance concert, I traded in one of my D7000 bodies for a D610, believing a full-frame camera would finally deliver the high ISO performance needed for dance.

Like many of my recent purchase decisions, this one turned out to be the right horse in the wrong race. The D610 is a marvelous camera that improves many of my images, but it does not solve my dance performance problems. Continue reading

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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Dance and Theater, Low Light, Post Processing

Push-Button Macro Mode Works for Me, but I’m a Lazy, Disorganized, Impatient Photographer

DSCF0721 (1)The single-focal-length, non-interchangeable lens X100s has a macro mode. As I continue my testing to determine whether this is a good camera for a lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, I have to concede that pressing the button twice (to engage macro mode) and then leaning close to a flower is a lot easier than going back to the house, changing lenses, stopping to check phone/computer, realizing I’m a little hungry, setting everything down to stare into the open refrigerator, arguing the pros and cons of staring into the open refrigerator with my wife, deciding to watch a movie, and forgetting that I had been outside wishing to photograph a flower.

For serious macro work, I would obviously set up the tripod, light diffusers, and micro-nikkor 105 f/2.8, but I haven’t done any serious macro work in 55 years and I don’t intend to start now. Oh, and I wasn’t in my backyard; I was in Carpinteria taking a walk, so I didn’t have the option of the 105 lens or someone’s refrigerator into which I could stare. X100s FTW.

 

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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Motivation, Nature Photography