Monday, December 29, 2008


Medium softbox and white seamless (and a beautiful toddler).  D3, 24-70 f/2.8, 1/250@f/16.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Camera Bag Zipper

There is not much information available about the bokeh characteristics of the AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 D, so I thought I'd give it a workout before I used it for portraits on a Nikon D700.  
I picked a fairly stark (and convenient) B&W subject to make the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration easy to see. The shot is Nikon D700, 105mm, f/4.0 @ 1/60s using on camera flash for fill.  

The Micro Nikkors are highly corrected to control chromatic and spherical aberration.  What we see here is, I think, a pleasant bleed of black into the white background, with no hint of chromatic aberration or geometric distortion.  I must say that even compared to the Leica-M 90mm f/2.0 Summicron and Zeiss 180mm f/4.0, my pre-digital portrait workhorses, the transition from dark to light feels very smooth, despite the Nikkor having only a seven blade diaphram.  

More serious tests to come, but this is encouraging.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beauty Lighting

Making progress with the portrait lighting.  This photo of Trina uses Joe McNally's classic beauty light formula with softboxes above and below.  Retouched in Photoshop and Lightroom.  D3, Nikon 105mm f/2, 1/100 @f/11, ISO 100.  I strongly recommend Joe McNally's book: "The Moment It Clicks".  It's a wonderful and inspirational book, one of the best photography books I've found.

Sand Dollar

This unusual piece is a petrified Sand Dollar and was a gift to my wife from her generous husband.   D3, Nikon 60mm f/2.8, 1/200 @ f/32, ISO 200

"Brick by Brick, My Citizens, Brick by Brick"

Macro lens + medium softbox + black velvet.  This Denarius was struck during the reign of Hadrian around 120 AD.  D3, Nikon 60mm f/2.8, 1/200 @ f/32, ISO 200

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

St. Louis at Dusk

St. Louis, December 7th at about 5:00 PM.  Nikon D700, ISO 200, 50mm f/1.8D, f/5.6 @ 1/100s.  It was nearly dark.  The first few shots were over exposed by quite a bit, giving great detail on the statue, but bleached the sky and blew out the moon, so I did a -1.0 in camera exposure compensation.  I'm finding the D700 tends to expose for shadows.  Cropped in Lightroom 2 with some added post crop vignette.  The sky color is straight out of the camera.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seated Buddha - St. Louis Art Museum

My first picture of this Buddha dates back to 1971.  At the time is was behind glass and I shot Kokak Ektachrome 160T on a Nikon F.  Today, I revisit the subject with a Nikon D700, ISO 1600, 50mm f/1.8, f/2.0 @ 1/500s, WB tungsten, 14-bit RAW.  I can say that this new shot has better color, more detail and is noise free compared to the Ektachrome grain.  I used Lightroom 2 to crop to 4x5, take the exposure down -0.76 and add gradient filter effect top and bottom.

Running Artemis Study #4

Today I made a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum to give my new Nikon D700 a workout.  I wanted to revisit some shots I made with a Nikon D100 to get a feel for differences in handling and image quality.  My first stop was to see "Artemis Running".  With half the exhibit rooms emptied out, I'm pleased that Artemis is still on display, although in a dark corner.

Tech details: Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.8D, ISO 1600, f/2.0 @ 1/500s, 14-bit RAW.  I use auto white balance and auto exposure because I usually find Nikon's approach to be naturalistic and pleasing.  In this case, however, I used Lightroom 2 to set WB to tungsten and take the exposure down -1.0.  Reviews I've been reading agree that the D700 tends to over expsose, but it is too early to tell for me.

The image is nearly noise free, even at the pixel level.  The D700 is shaping up to be my favorite camera yet.

Moon: December 7, 2008

View of the moon from my deck using my new Nikon D700.  The "lens" is an old, inexpensive, Celestron telescope that is the quivalent of 1000mm @ f/11.  Starting with the "sunny 16" rule, I figured that the moon needs about +1 stop, so for ISO 400 I used 1/400s.  This shot is hand held, so in spite of the lens, it could be sharper.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Egyptian Abstract - St. Louis Art Museum

On the lower level of the St. Louis Art Museum, there is a room with a sky light.  On a sunny afternoon, visitors are treated to interesting show shadows cast on the wall.  In the foreground is small Egyptian antiquity.  Nikon D100, ISO 1000, 24-85mm @ 85mm, f/5.6 @ 1/200s.  Selenium conversion in Lightroom 2.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oktomat Photography Experiment

This year for my birthday I received an Oktomat camera made by the Lomography company. It's a fun a little camera that shoots eight consecutive shots over 2.5 seconds, using an aperture of f/8 and shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second.

I took the above shots using Walgreens brand ASA 800 film. The first is of the Tivoli in University City, while the one of the Arch was taken by sticking my hand and camera out the window while driving on the Poplar Street Bridge over the Mississippi.
Some thoughts on the Oktomat experience:
  • I liked the tactile experience of using film again and the nostalgia of smelling the chemical coating. But it was a real pain trying to thread it into the camera.
  • Nice ergonomics. I'm becoming unhappy with the bulkiness and handling of a lot of digital cameras. This one was light and fit well in my hand.
  • Not being able to review a shot after you take, especially in a camera like this, makes it hard to know what you are doing right and wrong. This is a especially a problem because of the next point.
  • 10 bucks to develop 24 shots and have them burned on a CD! That's a shocker after getting used to 'free' digital pictures.
  • The view finder is a little inaccurate, as you can see with the large amount of sky in the Tivoli picture.
  • One of the 'charms' of this camera is the light leaks, which can sometimes give an unexpected coloring to a photo. In the two rolls I shot, I thought they simply ruined the picture.
I'm not sure how often I'll use the camera, but taking it out every once in a while will be fun.