Tag Archives: Nikon 70-200 f2.8

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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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings

I Was Sad, but I Couldn’t Look Away

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We watched her build the nest for weeks.

It grew much larger than we expected.

It grew much larger than we expected.

We were thrilled to see three chicks.

We were thrilled to see three chicks. (The beak of the third chick is barely visible behind the second chick)

During the week, my reported that a snake got into the nest, although how was unclear. Two chicks survived.

On Thursday, my wife reported that a snake got into the nest, although how was unclear. Two chicks survived and I got this shot on Saturday morning. We weren’t sure how the snake had gotten up under the eaves, but assumed it would not need to eat again for a week or so.

I looked forward to photographing the mother feeding the chicks.

I looked forward to photographing the mother feeding the chicks, and was most concerned about finding a better angle for photographs.

But Saturday afternoon, I came home to this horrific tableau.

But Saturday afternoon, I came home to this horrific tableau.

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The adult oriole tried frantically to disrupt the snake.

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The snake had already dropped a dead chick to the ground. He wasn’t letting go of this one.

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Eventually, the snake dropped about twenty feet to the ground with his prey.

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I felt awful, but I couldn’t look away. I’m a photographer.

The bereaved. I cannot begrudge the snake his nature. I photographed him as I stood beside my BBQ grill, where a slab of cow was sizzling. Still, we had come to view the oriole family as neighbors, and I feel sad for the mother's loss.

The bereaved. I cannot begrudge the snake his nature. I photographed him as I stood beside my BBQ grill, where a slab of cow was sizzling. Still, we had come to view the oriole family as neighbors, and I feel sad for the mother’s loss.

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Filed under Nature Photography

Dance Concert D7100 vs. D610

Night One. D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

Night One. D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

Last December I shot a dance concert with the D610, and while I got some very nice shots, I was disappointed with the focusing system and made a note to try the D7100 next time. Well, next time happened earlier this month.

D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

These concerts are always both stressful and fun. I’m not sure there’s any focusing system that would be optimal in these circumstances, but the D7100 definitely did a better job than the D610, and I got well over 150 keepers from the first performance. But you know what? I just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

While I was over-processing, pixel-peeping, and over-analyzing images from night one, I decided that I had sacrificed dynamic range and low-light capability by choosing the D7100. I resolved to shoot night two with the D610. It’s a good thing I got most of what I needed on night one.

Night two. Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

Night two. Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8. Well exposed and out of focus.

Now don’t get me wrong. I got some good shots with the D610, but it was more of a crap shoot, focus wise. I knew that I was trading focus acuity for lower noise at higher ISOs, but I was surprised at what a bad trade it turned out to be. There are several factors at work here: 1) the D610 doesn’t focus as well as the D7100 in low light, 2) the full frame sensor produces less depth of field at the same aperture, 3) the full frame sensor also required me to use the lens at its extreme end of 200mm, where it is less likely to be sharp than in the middle of its range. (I haven’t tested this, but it’s a plausible hypothesis). Whatever the reason, the images were not as sharp as often, and that was a shame, because the dynamic range and high ISO were visibly better.

As I say, I got most of what I needed at the first performance, and the teacher is happy with the 198 images I delivered. This experience reminds me to carefully choose the right tool for the task at hand. One week after the dance concerts I did a studio shoot with the D610 and cannot imagine a better camera for the job (blog to come).

So the very good news is that I got to see these magnificent dance performances, make some very nice photos, and learn something important about my cameras. Win, win, win.

Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D7100 with 70-200 f/2.8

Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Nikon D610 with 70-200 f/2.8

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Filed under Camera Gear, Dance and Theater, Low Light

A Slow Learner, but a Learner Still

Only so many dusks, only so many springs.

Only so many dusks, only so many springs.

It seems like just one post ago I was supposedly relearning that I will only get so many magic hours (dawn & dusk light) in my life, but just this afternoon I sat at my desk, trying to decide whether to haul a camera into the backyard or take off my shoes and lounge about the house.  Continue reading

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A Sort of Progress

141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_8909-3

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.141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9170 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9234 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9307 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9385 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9553 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9636 141211-Nordhoff DanceDSC_9639

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Filed under Dance and Theater