Tag Archives: Nikon D610

Some Photos I can Share!

Funny story: I haven’t been able to blog about photography even though I’ve been shooting almost every day, because it’s work-for-hire and the images are not mine to share. There are some interesting stories I will share one day (the movie star who greeted me with a big smile and reached out to shake my hand, saw the camera, and withdrew his hand in disgust), but in the meantime, I still get the pleasure of photographing Nordhoff High School’s dance performances.

I shot the dance show on two nights; once with the D7100 and once with the D610. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but each offers image quality absolutely up to the task. I would have used the D7100 exclusively because of its superior focusing system, but the cropped sensor was not a good match for my position at the venue; you won’t usually hear me complain about being too close, but the 70-200 didn’t let me go wide enough for ensemble shots until I switched to the D610.

The music in this video is not from the performance; it’s just an important song about the roles of women and girls in our society, and as the father of a daughter it rattles me every time I hear it. It’s called Ophelia, by Natalie Merchant.

Oh, and I still get to photograph birds in my backyard:

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Looking forward to a lot more shooting and blogging in the coming year, as well as a blog redesign for better organization. I hope you’ll join me.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Dance and Theater

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

Personal Assignment – Wide Open

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I don’t choose lenses just for focal length and speed. Oh no. Each lens has its own character. Technically, a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens is at its best stopped down to f/5.6. But you don’t buy a 1.4 lens to shoot it at f/5.6.  So for July, my assignment is to shoot the 85mm f/1.4 wide open, in black and white.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Low Light

The New Chordettes in the Studio, 4.5 Years Later

My own comfort and confidence behind the camera influenced their comfort and confidence in front of the camera.

My own comfort and confidence behind the camera influenced their comfort and confidence in front of the camera.

Four and one half years ago, I photographed The New Chordates in my home studio. I was somewhat new to studio lighting at the time, but the results were pretty good and even graced two CD covers.

Last month I got a do-over, and I’m pleased to see that I learned something about lighting and posing over the last few years. Of course, it never hurts to have a group of beautiful women posing for you…

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Although I struggled to separate dark hair from the dark background, overall I was very happy with this session’s lighting. I used two tools unavailable to me in 2011: the Photek Softlighter II and the Orbis Ringflash. With the SB-800-powered ring flash around the Nikon 24-70 and the SB-600-powered Softlighter II at camera-left, I added an umbrella-ed SB-600 from high camera-right as a little bit of hair light. I like the overall look (although I would have preferred a stronger, tighter hair light), and best of all, the broad soft light provided by these tools allowed me to do very little retouching to the images. So nice to have evidence of progress in my work!

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Filed under Camera Gear, Lighting, Portraiture

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