Apr 052010

Something Related to a Project…

Pre-Dawn on Route 7

Not that this has to do with much of anything, but I happened to shoot this on Sunday morning on the way to shoot some other pictures for a project.

I’m not going to use this one in the project, because I already have my quota (one) of motion-blurred pictures — but this is still a fun image.

For the technically minded, here is the photo-geeky stuff:

  • The Nikon D300 camera was set up on a Benbo Trecker tripod — the middle leg was set into the Outback’s forward cupholder.  The other two legs rested on the rear floor, one on either side of the hump.  Lateral movement was controlled by a couple of bungee cords to the front seat head restraint rods.  If you know anything about Benbo tripods, you’ll understand why this works.
  • I used a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens.  The focal length was 11mm and the aperture was f/5.6.  Focus was preset at manual.
  • The camera’s ISO was set to 800.  The aperture priority mode was used, with 5-shot auto-bracketing.  The brackets were 1 f/stop apart.  The exposure for this shot was 1 second controlled by a Nikon electronic shutter release (squeeze and hold until all 5 shots were taken.
  • The image was recorded in RAW (NEF) so that I would have access to all the image data recorded.  Post processing was done in Adobe PhotoShop CS4.  Color temperature as adjusted to 6550K.  The white line on the right was used to set the white value in Curves.  Noise reduction was with Noise Ninja.  I Smart Sharpened it a little.

My biggest surprise was that even with the slow 1 second shutter speed and the pretty dodgy camera installation, the image is sharp enough to use — at least for the web.  Certainly not razor sharp, but sharp enough.

Jan 112010

A quick test run with Ricoh’s very interesting GXR.

I like to test new cameras at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport.

The museum is a very difficult place to shoot since it is generally dim, has several different light sources (it is not unusual to have four light sources in a single picture) and the curved ceilings and all those airplanes make for some compositional challenges.  With shooting conditions right on the edge, the bad habits of a camera or lens (or photographer, for that matter) don’t stay hidden.

This WWII vintage Vought F4U-1D Corsair is one of the first planes you see as you approach the first overlook (on the right in this photo), and is one my regular test subjects from that vantage point.  But I also like this view from below since you can get visitors in the picture.  (As a side note, this is one of the few situations where you can somehow manage to get only one airplane in the frame.)

Most of my serious travel photography is done with a Leica M8, but it’s good to have a point-and-shoot camera available too.  The Ricoh GXR features different lens/sensor modules that slide into the camera body.  The module I have on my GXR is a 5.1-15.3mm zoom — which is equivalent to a 24-72mm lens in 35mm film cameras.  The GXR will replace my current GX100.  Ricoh cameras are a bit of a niche item in the U.S., with very few dealers.  However, Ricoh seems intent on designing cameras for more experienced photographers and their functions and control layouts are, in my opinion, the best of any compact cameras made.  The small sensor models suffer a little more from noise than other brands, but the GXR is quite improved over the GX100.  (I need to build some Noise Ninja profiles for making larger images, but you can’t really see any noise issues at this size.)

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