Thursday, April 30, 2009

Parting shots from April 2009

My last kick at the can for this month as to take my D40 and 70-300mm VR or a stroll up the Lake Road this evening. I shot about 150 files, and culled them down to some satisfying images. I have managed to create a blog entry every day this month; I think I will take some time and go through my Seagates and look for more material for the on-line journal.

The D40 is such a blast to use, I feel guilty by paying a measly $500 for it. Oh well. Enjoy.

That's more like it!

Just for an experiment, I attached the new 500D on the 16-85mm VR, it's supposed to work better on telephotos but I like to be a rebel and break the rules. I certainly found the DOF was easier to manage, and the results seem more to what I wanted in the first place. Anyway, here are a couple of my faves from farting around the Carding Mills before work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting the hang of it

Ever since I got the 500D close-up lens, it's been very windy. This morning was almost a hurricane, or so it seemed. I needed to shoot something stationary. The old fence at the Penney Farm was ideal, the D80 was attached to my trusty Manfrotto Art 055 and I carefully framed these two files.

Depth of field shooting this close is as thin as paper, these were at f/11 and they have lots of bokeh to show.

The optical quality is very good, I still need to hone my technique and shoot some of the budding flowers, they are starting to appear.

The wind can stop!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I see plenty of this as I drive to work or wherever I may be in Nova Scotia, the logging industry's greed has destroyed itself. I thought the moody sky was a nice contrast to the barren landscape, helped with some post-processing work.

Taken with the D80 and trusty 16-85mm VR zoom.

Slow start to shooting macro files - 70-300mm VR/500D combo

I am starting to remember how tough it was to get good close-ups with my Canon PowerShot G6 and 250D close-up lens - I tried to get some decent files, today, with my new 500D lens, it's very challenging. Wind or no wind. Depth of field is sooooooooo thin, the AF is almost useless meaning I have to rely on my 45-year-old eyes to focus.

The len's VR system can help but, I have to admit a tripod would be the best tool I can use for this sort of work, even though it would be a PITA to drag around.

I'll continue to plug along. This one is kind of mysterious, it looks wide-open but was shot at about f/8 on the 70-300mm VR.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Frustrating day for photography

It as one of those days that getting good images would be very challenging. It started fine, I recorded what I thought were some nice sunrise files on my way to work. I was anticipating the arrival of my Canon 500D close-up lens from B&H Photo, UPS got it to me late this afternoon.

From much published info on the Web, I know the AF-S 70-300mm VR works superbly with this Canon close-up lens; I had the 250D when I owned the G6, it's the same optical formula except it's designed for telephoto lenses. Of course, I wanted to try this out for myself.

I went to our LDS meetinghouse, saw some budding plant life that might make for good subject material. Then it hit me - it was windy! Aaaaaaaaaarg. I know wind can make shooting macro subjects very painful, and, the wind did win out - once I loaded the files into the laptop and viewed them, I knew I had failed.

To boot, I thought I could salvage my day with good sunrise shots - there were several with power lines in them! Who put those in my SD card?

Th final straw was the tiny little blotch I saw on all my files from today's outing - it's was in the same spot on each file. Yes, it was a piece of some crap on my sensor, hopefully just dust. You don't see the blasted stuff until after you unload the card; you can see dust in your viewfinder, but that won't hurt anything.

Right click the folder, and you quickly delete all files - I now had nothing to show for today's efforts.

I used my rocket blower to fix the dust problem with the mirror up mode on the D80. The only way to test it was to shoot something - I was happily able to capture the sunset behind my house, salvaging a decent file and being able to create a blog post.

Tomorrow's goal - try to get some nice macro images, shooting close-ups is very challenging.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One from late yesterday, early today

Sunsets can be ho-hum, but this one is quite decent - I was waiting to shoot some group photos at the local annual firemen's banquet, I caught the last of the day's light.

The fog was extra-thick as we drove to church, the road looks like it goes to an abyss.......

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Inside, outside

I have always found you should not confine yourself to shooting solely outside or inside, a variety is the best thing. Early-morning light or natural window light can be wonderful, as shown in these two files.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bird's eye view of Bridgewater

I thought I'd go for something a little different, today. There is a rather steep embankment by the East Side Plaza where you can climb (at about a 75-degree angle!) and get an almost bird's eye view of the town of Bridgewater. I have taken many photos from this perch, before. I dragged my little D40 and 70-300mm VR up the hill and had no trouble finding worthwhile images.

When fully racked out, the lens gets you petty close and shows the details of the hustle-bustle of what happens in the early part of a work day in this town.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The usual bumpy old Trunk 10 route

I decided to travel Highway 10, this morning, I have been avoiding it the past couple weeks - it's a disaster, as are most roads in Nova Scotia. Anyway, there were some decent photos to be had, I have learned to find nuggets along any path.

The second shot was luck - the cloud formations were delightful as I drove into the driveway at work, I only had a few seconds and, fortunately, I had the 70-300mm zoom already attached to the D80 and I quickly guessed 1/250th sec @ f/8 would be the most effective exposure - I was right=)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Past its prime

It was a rainy day for the most part, pending flooding in many areas. The downpour stopped for a few seconds while my Home Teacher and I took some pics of this old car on the property of one of our families. In its day, the vehicle would have been the only way for these people to get to Bridgewater (or anywhere); now, it's just an interesting photographic subject.

VR technology continues to amaze me, this is sharp, hand-held, at 1/13th second.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This is a simple technique but you have to be careful about lens flare - I had a few files that ended up in the Recycle Bin due to sun dogs. Basically, you have to open up a bit from the metered reading just like fog to allow the shafting light to come through.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Early bird gets the worm

I had no intentions of taking any photographs, this morning, it was supposed to be a bright, sunny day, virtually useless for shooting. I was wrong.

The little D40 continues to amaze me, it's so simple to use.

Any AF system would struggle with fog, I had to manually focus the 16-85mm VR for this one.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Laid back Sunday images

Since I take a camera with me wherever I go, even to church, I tend to be always on the lookout for something worthwhile to add to this blog. Kind of a easy-going day, but found a couple of interesting scenes in my travels.

This old dump of a property has more junked cars than you can imagine; it's a big liability concern but a nice backdrop for pictures.

The latter image file was about two stops overexposed (yes, I do make mistakes when I photograph!) - thankfully, my choice to shoot RAW for most of my work often pays dividends as I can usually salvage workable files.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My dad's float plane

Doing this kind of shooting is difficult, you need to remember that fast shutter speeds make the propeller look like it's stopped, plus the ability to lock and track focus (the D80 is far superior over the D40 in this regard); the technique of panning comes into play. The AF-S 70-300mm VR has a two-range mechanism for its Vibration Reduction, the high setting designed for panning subjects. It works pretty well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quack, quack

OK, ducks are nothing special, they are found in most parks. The thing that struck me were the colorful reflections this morning. The AF-S 70-300mm VR has great reach on a DX body, too bad I didn't have a 500mm lens; still, not too shabby.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Using a feature I never had before.......

I decided to get out my cute little SB-400 Speedlite, which is my back-up flash, and play with the fast flash synchronization of the D40. I have never had the luxury of being able to use flash at 1/500th second, it helps shorten distance since you can choose wider apertures.

A sunset seemed to be a tough challenge but the situation was tailor-made for Nikon's iTTL flash metering - exposure was 1/500th second @ f/11, notice how the immediate area near the camera is nicely-lit and balanced with the setting sun.

Yes, I did juice up the colors and contrast!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

250 files through the D40 in one day

I am starting to convince myself I enjoy using this entry-level Nikon DSLR more than the D80; it's way lighter, easy to use, seems as fast to operate, and the smaller 6 MP sensor seems to yield crisper images. The 10 MP D80 is brutishly rugged and has a better AF system, plus the usual preferred features, such s a depth of field preview and provisions to integrate with Nikon Speedlites in a magical way.

Whatever, I had no trouble blasting about 250 files, today, through the little Nikon. The first was taken in my yard before I set off to work, the last one was a lucky capture at dusk. You know, many of us dump on built-in flashes, but I needed it for the shot.

The cult-classic 70-300mm VR was used for both images.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The begining and the end of the day

The start and finish to any sunny day is the best time to shoot, here are some examples - the first two were taken with the D40/16-85mm VR in the morning, the latter two with the D80/70-300mm VR at sunset/dusk. Due to the fact the sun had disappeared, I had to use ISO 800 for the last shot, b/w looked better since the colors were muted - talk about a tough shot, the guy with the hose was always moving.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Isn't winter over?

You have to ask yourself this question if you live in Nova Scotia.

This was the scene, today, on my drive to work as I scooted through West Clifford. Funny, hardly a flake in Bridgewater.

It sure was pretty, but I have had enough!

I was playing with the colorizing tab of Capture NX2.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good start to a long day

I was up by 5am, the rain had pretty much ended - it seems to be a season of deluges and floods - the window of opportunity came to whisk down to Peggy's Cove while on my way to do a Church visit assignment in Halifax. I didn't have a lot of time, the lighting was marginal and it was cold and windy.

I had to use ISO 400 on the D40, I had reasonable hand-held exposures of 1/25th second at f/8. I did pump up the colors although I really didn't have to, but I wanted to emphasize the boldness.

The Web reviewers were right - the higher ISO's with the D40 are very clean, who needs a 10 MP camera?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What's new is old

Part of today's early-morning ritual was to head out to Blue Rocks, a very scenic vista that rivals even the likes of Peggy's Cove. Even if it's raining=) A little water doesn't hurt a camera. The D40 and 16-85mm VR came through nicely.

This "new" shack looks a bit out of sorts with the other old structures in the community. Oh well.

Atoning for a mistake

It's the Easter weekend, what better time to try to reconcile one's mistakes? Yesterday, I messed up on similar water flowing shots by being careless with my tripod - you cannot get sharp pictures at 1/2 second by depressing the shutter release button. DUH. The 2-second self timer release works like a champ, no vibrations.

These were 1-second exposures at f/16, ISO 100 on the D80 - it was early morning and rain had already started.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I see red

The Lunenburg waterfront is a wonderful place for digital captures at any time. It was relatively quiet on this Good Friday, sunny and warm - I am no big an of high contrast days but you can bring out the colors if you are careful.

Red is a color of emotion, it has always been my favorite since I can remember.

These files were spruced up a bit, crisply recorded on the D40 and AF-S 70-300mm VR zoom.

Fog is magic

It seems I am attracted to certain kinds of light, and fog is one of my faves - it's tricky since you need to generally expose a bit more than your meter reading, and the AF can often struggle. I stumbled across these at the upper end of New Germany Lake, there is a wonderful old train bridge structure still functioning as a ways and means for four-wheelers to access the trail which runs parallel to Trunk 10.

It's easy to hand-hold the 16-85mm VR, balances nicely on the D80.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

School colors

I thought the juxtaposition of the old school and the bus was interesting. I did punch the saturation quite heavy. The colors on the D80 are more forward than the D40. Of course, this angle shows the extra wideness the 16-85mm gets over traditional mediocre 17/18-70/85mm kit zooms on DSLR's.

Glorious light at the Carding Mills

This is one of my favorite spots in the town of Bridgewater, there is plenty to catch my eye - waterfalls, reddish old mill, lots of trees - it's all there. It looks especially colorful early in the morning with the right light.