Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes techincal perfection doesn't matter as much as mood

fallow males
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
At least, that's what I think when I view this shot. Early morning, not much light. There's noise, I probably didn't get the best out of it in photoshop and still..

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting out of your photographic comfort zone.

I think it's important to get out of your photographic comfort zone once in a while. Most amateur photographers, myself included, start out shooting absolutely everything they see. After a while they focus a bit more on a few subjects, take the occasional foray in unknown territory and find a niche they are comfortable with. For me that's nature and birds.

Recently I decided, together with a friend, to go to a motor cross event in a nearby village. Loads of people, noise, action, quite the opposite of what I usually do.


It took me a few minutes to get used to it all but then all the practice I put into shooting birds in flights started to pay off. I got an almost 90% keeper rate on most of the action.


But then the composition challenge started to hit me. How on earth do you shoot something that will interest other people? Get any sort of emotional reaction?

So I started to look for patterns.


But it's hard! Everything moves all the time.

motorcross starting line

In the end I decided to put it off as a learning experience. Technical proficiency doesn't mean interesting pictures. It takes some creativity and a good eye for what's going on around you. It also made me realize that I enjoy my niches much more. When I see this:

Hay landscape

I get a sense of, well, fulfilment, joy, no matter what you want to call it. This is the kind of photography I want to do and excel at. And, since it's a hobby and not a profession I can do it and I can continue trying to improve myself.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'd forgotten how much fun macro can be

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I had a spare 20 minutes this morning and I decided to see if there was anything interesting to shoot in my garden. Now that the summer progresses it's becoming more and more difficult to get good bird shots. Foliage gets in your way and with the weather we've had the last few weeks there is an abundance of food so they no longer need to come and beg in my garden.

So, I decided to dust of my Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro and go insect hunting. Immediately I was reminded of the difficulties that you face when shooting insects. DoF is very, very shallow, with macro F8 is pretty much wide open. Your models don't sit still and even the slightest movement on the part of the photographer cause an out of focus picture.

I got out my monopod, adjusted the length and move the head far down and went hunting. Focussing tends to go best manually.

This is a bumblebee snacking on the chives flowers in my herb garden. Nice combination, chives is a tasty herb, goes great in an omelette, can endure harsh winters and it flowers intensely. Bumblebees are also good. Good natured little girls, won't harm any humans unless you really, really corner them.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Nikon predictions 2010

If there's one thing common on all the gearhead forums (dpreview for example) it's the continuing debate of "when will Nikon release something new?" quite often in combination with "I want to buy a D-whatever but am afraid that something new will come out just after I bought it".

The latter seems silly to me, the current lineup (with the exception of the Nikon D3000 perhaps) is so good that any camera will still be good enough for 99% of the users even after Nikon has released their latest model.

Having said that, here are my predictions for 2010:

Based on history as I remember it and my gut instinct.

D90 follow-up
(your guess is as good as mine as to the name of that one) sometime mid this year. I'd expected it already but end September at the latest. Slightly more mega pixels perhaps, (14mpix Sony sensor perhaps) certainly a big jump in video capabilities to full HD. A stop more usable high iso if we are lucky but I doubt that.

D3000 replacement
In my opinion this is desperately needed. It's the black sheep in the line-up with that old sensor from the D60. Don't expect video there but it needs to beat the Canon 1000D. Knowing Nikon it may not materialize this year if at all. I suspect a lack of a proper camera is hurting them more than they may realize. On any gearhead forum people will advice against buying this so first time buyers go out and get a Sony or a Canon instead and stick with that brand if they like the hobby.

Tricky to predict. I'd expect something that fixes the few flaws in the D700 and at the same time will try to hit the 7D/ 5dmk2 segment of the market hard but which will fail to compete on price.

Nikon EVIL
(EVIL stands for electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens. These cameras are now also being called m 4/3 even though that's Olympus' solution for this class.)
After the succes of the olympus Pen other companies jumped on this bandwagon. Sony has just entered this market with two cameras. Based on that and recent patent applications I expect Nikon to enter this market as well.
I'm 99.9% sure Nikon has prototyped this already. I suspect the first iteration encountered technical or marketing problems and had to have some major rework done. I still expect this in Q3. If it does reach the market by then it may very well mean the end of the D3000 part of the lineup.

Difficult to predict. I'd expect a 80-400 follow-up and the rumours of a 24-120 replacement in f4 are too strong to ignore. Possibly a medium long tele prime early next year (135ísh with VR but without DC)
I expect no new kit lenses and nothing really surprising in DX although I suspect quite a few people at Nikon are wondering how they can exploit and repeat the 35mm f1.8 G success even further since the 85mm f3.5 micro doesn't seem to be nearly the success Nikon has hoped for.

A SB-600 follow-up is long overdue. Outside chance that if the EVIL does reach the market there will be a baby SB-400 especially for that.

Other goodies
Hopefully Nikon will realize there's a huge demand for good software as well. View NX is horrible as a catalog tool and Capture NX is expensive and not well suited for bulk work.
In an ideal world we would get a workable View NX and a free Capture NX lite and we would see the prices of a full featured Capture NX positioned to undercut Lightroom.

If you want more predictions head over to Nikon Rumors.