Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Lights

Christmas morning has come and gone, and while there are still about three cubic yards of wrapping paper stuffed under the coffee table and Lincoln Logs scattered about, the madness has faded back into everyday life.

Shots of the kids opening presents are always a favorite, and can be quite a challenge in available light, given the tendency of Christmas morning to happen in the winter at 5:00 am. Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, conduct christmas outside in the mid-day, or have a new D3 you're going to have to add light to the scene somehow.

Last year, my first as a DSLR photographer, saw me produce images like this:
ISO 1600, cheap lens wide open at f/3.5, 1/15th of a second. I had to shoot ten just to get one that was recognizable of everybody. But I stuck to my vow that I was NOT going to use my pop-up flash and take nasty point and shoot pictures.

This year, due to the miracle of off-camera lighting, things worked out a little differently. I used one flash, the SB-800, set up on a Super Clamp and Umbrella stand adapter with the diffuser on and aimed at about a 45 degree angle.
The other flash, an SB-600 was located on-camera, aimed at the ceiling and manually zoomed to 50mm. This flash served as an additional light and a trigger for the SB-800, which was in SU-4 slave mode.
With both flashes set to 1/4 power, camera in manual exposure at ISO 400, f/5.6 and 1/125th, I was free to go anywhere in the room and shoot wherever I wanted at any range and zoom with good clean light and nearly perfect exposure every time.

The setup shot:

The first gifts:

More trouble ahead:

You should have heard the "Thank you!" that followed a moment after this image:

I asked for a set of Pocket Wizards, but Santa apparently forgot to stop at B&H this year, so I'm stuck with optical triggering for a little while yet. I did, however, get large prints of two pictures framed and hung so it wasn't a complete loss for me...
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Strobist: Registration Opens for Jan. 19th San Francisco-Area Lighting Seminar

Strobist: Registration Opens for Jan. 19th San Francisco-Area Lighting Seminar

Well, it was open, for about thirty seconds or so. Apparently this off camera lighting stuff is popular with a whole lot of people, because within seconds of the link appearing on thon the Strobist main page, it was sold out. Apparently I was obsessive lucky enough to catch the registration page during the few seconds it was open.

Thanks to David Hobby for hosting this seminar, I'm looking forward to it!
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Strobist is coming to San Francisco!

Okay, now I'm totally looking like a Strobist fan/geek/stalker. So maybe I am. Nothing wrong with that, right? David's running a seminar on January 19th in San Francisco, and I am going to be there come hell or high water.
Maybe I'll even learn a thing or two....

Meanwhile, I've been playing a bit with my new tool, an old Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AiS lens. I'm not sure how old it is, but the Serial number puts it somewhere between August 1981 and December 2005. Thanks, that narrows it down! Anyway, it's been very interesting, and I think it'll make a superb portrait lens. It seems to have a bit of a glow wide open, which initially seems like softness but all the detail is still there. Managing the tiny DOF is a challenge, as is manually focusing in a D200 viewfinder.
Picture shot wide open at f/2.5

100% crop from the middle of the picture, at the point of focus. Sort of shows the soft/glowing but detailed look I'm getting used to from this excellent lens.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Film is NOT dead....

Got my slides back from Yosemite a few days ago, finally got a chance to scan some of them in. I've been shooting both film and digital for several months now, and I'm still up in the air as to which I prefer. Digital obviously beats film far and away for convenience, but for absolute image quality, I'm not so sure. I think the specialized films may still have an edge for those willing to work for it.
My F4 on the ice in Tuolomne meadows:

One of many photos I took while laying on the ice on a frozen pond, hoping my zipper didn't freeze to the surface....
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Sunday, December 16, 2007


So I, along with every other aspiring photographer who wants to learn what to do with a light, read David Hobby's immensely popular Strobist blog. He's currently running an incredible contest, Strobist pictures of the year, and I've finally got something entered. Anything on the Strobist flickr pool is fair game and that makes about 65,000 photos at the moment.

The criteria are pretty much that the picture is decent, uses off-camera lighting, and belongs to you.

You have until the 18th if you want in!
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

So I guess there has to be a first post somewhere....

My name is Nick Davis, I'm a full time industrial maintenance guy, part time photographer, and working on moving those priorities around a bit sometime soon...

I'm the proud parent of three kids, who you'll probably be seeing a lot of, and I've been married for almost 11 years to a wonderful woman who will NOT let me point a camera at her!

I've been shooting pictures of my kids for years, as does any good parent, and I love to get out and photograph almost anything, people, nature, landscapes, architecture, you know, the whole "I can't really decide what I want to do with my photography" bit.

I'm beginning at do some semi-professional work, both through selling prints of my landscape photos and in doing portraits for co-workers' and their families.

I'd love to shoot weddings (I think) but I'm gonna have to try a few first, before I know.

Maybe this whole thing needs to go in some kind of "about me" section, but I'm gonna drop it here for now.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and be sure to check back, I'll keep this updated regularly as the images flow in!
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