You might remember the unboxing video of the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens I made previously. Since then I have tested it a little here a little there, but I have not made a dedicated extensive test run. This weekend I found the time to go to the zoo here in Hanover. It is a very modern zoo with enclosures tailored to the demands of the individual species, not one of those concrete-and-iron-bar-zoos of the past. My setup was quite heavy: Nikon D800 Meike battery grip Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VRII Manfrotto MM294C Carbon fibre monopod (attached to the lens foot) Blackrapid R-Strap (attached to the battery grip). I had the camera with the blackrapid around my shoulders for easier carrying. The monopod was attached all the time to the foot of the lens. For shooting I adjusted the length of the monopod as necessary. I know that it is an unusual way to use a monopod when you are not staying stationary, but the extra support made shooting easier and reliefed me of the camera weight when taking pictures. To shift the weight a little I sometimes shouldered camera and lens and got hold of the monopod, like one would carry a […]
Some days ago our neighbors invited us to have a cup of coffee. They have a terrarium with a lizard in the living room. Meet Kermit, the Agamid. Kermit is a very sleepy fellow. Most of the day he lies in his cave and snoozes away. He is also very frugal. A few bugs or pieces of vegetable suffice to keep him happy for a long time. But this time Kermit was awake when we visited and he patiently posed for my camera. The first shots were made with the 24-70 mm, but then I got my 105mm macro lens and got close with Kermit. He also accepted that. Look at his scales and the spikes ! You don’t need to travel to Middle-Earth to find Smaug…
Taking pictures of children requires many things. You have to establish a positive connection with them. If they are feeling uncomfortable the pictures won’t be any good. Then it’s patience and of course a little bit of luck to get good shots, because children won’t follow your commands as a professional model would do. The image you can see above was taken in my studio. The little lady is very happy and has a lot of fun with the buggy I put her into. One has to goof around a lot when dealing with children. This particular child was very excited with me making strange noises behind the camera. If I try to write out my blabbering it could sound like this: „Buggabaggadoodidoodi-blbfrt blbft – agu ! agu ! Ooooooooiiiiiiioooooouuuuu….“ This is what caught her attention and made her laugh. Note that every child is different but making strange noises usually works (sometimes even with grown-ups). The setup I can be seen here: The left softbox illuminates the child in the cart. The Speedlight and the right softbox illumninate the background. The background flashes are necessary to make the white cloth I use appear completely white. In retrospective I also […]
Today I made an excursion to the new townhall of Hanover. „New“ hereby means that the building was finished in 1913, the old townhall is from the 13th century. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany attended the opening ceremony, jawohl ! The new townhall is an impressive building with a large dome and a huge entrance hall open to the public. The building cost 10 million Marks back then, which was an enormous sum. And the city paid for it in cash, which I find noteworthy in times of towering national debts. I had some fun with the Samyang 8 mm again and here are the results. I was particularly fond of the spiral staircases which are located in the entrance hall. The spirals and the supporting pillars converge through the distortion of the lens in a way which makes one feel a little high. Na, that came out wrong. What I mean: Everything flows towards one point, the lines are bent and distorted. Once again I am astonished by the opening angle of this lens. It is nearly 180° totally awesome. A little less awesome is the fact, that one has to shoot at f8 minimum to receive a decently […]
We have this awesome park and city forest about 15 min walking time away from our new home here in Hannover. Recently we went exploring the park a little and discovered that awesome windmill. It has been erected in 1580 and was rebuilt this year, reopening October 5th 2012. I took several shots of the windmill from different angles and edited the images a little. Tell me what you think !
After I posted the dragonfly image in the last article I went back to Lightroom and had a look at the raw file. And I was astonished to see how different it looked. I forgot how much retouching and modifying I did. „How much“ is in terms of „achieving dramatic changes“ and not as in „how much time and skill is necessary to achieve this look“. Therefore I decided to show you the evolution of that image. With only a few tweaks in Lightroom I changed an image which was close to „dump it“ after shooting to a nice macro image. Here it goes: That is the original. Dark, white balance off, the insect is not parallel to the image border. It is the only shot I could make because after this one it flew away. The first step I did in Lightroom was to set the correct white balance by selecting the white balance tool and clicking on a random spot on the wall. This is the result: Tadaa, white is white. Next step: Rotate and crop. I tried different crops and chose to transform the image from portrait to landscape format because it fits the orientation of the […]
No techy post today, just a nice image to enjoy. Still very busy finishing some projects at work and preparing to move to another city in Mid-September. Some days ago I was sitting outside when a dragonfly landed on the balcony and rested on the outer wall of our house. Luckily I got the D300s equipped with the 105mm marco lens at that moment and I was able to snap a photo of the insect. Some tweaking in Lightroom (raise the dark areas, whiten the white of the wall) and off we go. Everytime I do macro photography I am excited about the detailed world of small things which are hidden to the normal eye.
I have not blogged in a while. Many changes in my life kept me busy the last months – a sweet little baby girl, finding a new job, preparing to move into another city, wrapping up everything at my current job, preparing for a big exam and so on. This morning I decided to test the time-lapse function of the Nikon D800. I had two packs of breakfast bacon in the fridge and so I decided to recreate the famous bacon weave which is often done in the weekly internet show Epic Mealtime on Youtube. Nikon has really lowered the technical barrier for producing timelapse-videos with the D800. Other cameras can do interval shooting, too (=taking a picture every X seconds). But fumbling them together to a movie requires a separate piece of software and for some people this means that they would not easily dive into new possibilities (I have done it, see laundry folding video and IKEA assembly video here). Here is a very quick guide to time-lapse photography and how to do it with the D800: Use a tripod, align the camera properly, choose your framing. Set the camera to manual focus. This prevents that the focus point […]
I reported a lot about the tech specs of the Nikon D800 and about issues with this new model. But what is it all about ? The pictures. It is all about the pictures. This sunday I went on a photoshoot with friends and we conducted a session inside an old industrial building. It is the old municipal slaughterhouse, or, to be more precise, the truck loading area of the old slaughterhouse. This is the only building still standing of the slaughterhouse complex, the rest has been torn down. Everyone modeled for everybody. We used two SB-800 flashes mounted on tripods to illuminate the subject. The intense light falling through the broken windows painted the scenery in the back beautifully. I did not _perceive_ any CLS malfunctions during the shoot, because there were some misfires with every camera (my friends using a D300 and a D80). It is due to the large space we were in. The master signal is dispersed and, in contrast to a small studio, no light from the master flash is reflected so that a clear trigger signal can be received. This is a situation were radio triggers would have been the weapon of choice, but […]
I got my D800 on Thursday and I can tell that I really really like this new camera. I had multiple „Aha !“ moments with this camera already. One being „That’s what an image taken at 24 mm actually looks like… wait, is that vignetting at the corners ?“ Another good one was „There is not much noise in the image. That’s good. Now let’s try it with a higher…. oh, that image IS taken at ISO 6.400“. One of the main reasons for upgrading to a full format camera is the improved low-light performance of large sensors. I was a little afraid that the high Megapixel count of the D800 would kill this advantage, but yesterday I got convinced that this camera has excellent low-light capabilities. Yesterday evening I went into the city and came by a black BMW, painted in matt black. I said to myself, what better test for low-light performance and dynamic range can be made than photographing a black car at night, so I took two images. Result see below. I did NOT alter exposure or raise the blacks in both images. I did some lights recovery (for the windows in the top right corner), inserted […]
This morning I made a nice hot cup of coffee and wonderful creamy milk foam.When I poured the foam into the coffee cup and the rest of the liquid milk spilled into the foam, a funny pattern emerged. I present to you: The Coffee Bunny. Maybe it’s a sign to prepare for the upcoming easter season ? P.S.: No Photoshop involved here ! P.P.S.: A few years ago I had another coffee-and-foam-related random image
It has been a while since my last post. I had a deadline to keep at work for submitting an important document, and that kept me busy for a while. Deadline reached, all is well, time for the blog. This week I bought a new closet at Ikea. To make the assembly process more fun I put my camera on a tripod, mounted the Samyang 8 mm fisheye lens, set the interval timer to 20 sec and started shooting. Here you can see the result – me trying to assemble an Ikea product. You might note that I attach and remove the doors several times. This is due to me being a manly man, not looking into the instructions properly. Watch and learn 🙂
Tonight I met a friend and we grabbed our cameras and tripods and headed out onto the Krefelder Str. and the soccer stadium (Tivoli) Aachen to take some images. I shot with a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 and my good old Samyang 8 mm f3.5. Nice lenses, I am starting to develop a taste for wide-angle lenses. While the Samyang is a sheer monster concerning the opening angle (and distortion…) the Tokina 11-16 shows other strengths. While 11 mm is still very wide the distortion is not that heavy. The first image (being the long-time exposure of the street with blurred traffic) and the subsequent two were shot with the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens. Especially the side view of the Tivoli stadium is remarkable, because it was shot at 11mm but there is no significant distortion. Nice lens. Only the last image, as you can obviously notice, is the work of the 8 mm Samyang.
Time for some images. I keep writing on equipment and technology so much that I tend to neglect posts which actually contain images shot with the oh-so-wonderful photographic equipment. A few months ago I did a shooting session in the machine halls of the institute where I work. I mainly shot analog there with my Zenza Bronica ETRS middle format camera. Today I want to share these images and comment on them a little. This is an industrial robot used in a so-called Preform Center. In a Preform Center, fabrics made of reinforcement fibres are cut and subsequently handled by the big robot. Preforms are dry textiles, e.g. from carbon or glass fibres, which are draped into a specific form and then infused with a polymeric resin to form the fibre-reinforced part. The robot can attach different heads to manipulate the textiles: He can grab them, glue, sew, inspect and drape. The small robots are models. I wanted to recreate the impression of a bird feeding its young. Another angle of this scene, also shot digital. The following images were all shot on film using the Zenza Bronica ETRS middle format camera. Yarn tension control elements on a circular knitting […]
In my last posts I was very techy, talking only about new cameras and giving guidance on how to choose the perfect camera for you. Reading these posts again I realized that some people might get a wrong impression, so I would like to add something. In the last post I stated that „the image is shaped by the lens (and) the lens is more important than the body“. Which is still true, but I have to amend this statement: The photographer is the single most important part in the process of creating the image. NOT the equipment. I was reminded of that when I showed pictures from my gallery at a party yesterday and somebody asked me „How much do I have to invest in equipment so that I also can make such photos ?“ The equipment is absolutely secondary and I regret a little that I am focussing so much on the technology issue of photography on this blog. I have to confess: I love technology and am excited about new cameras and lenses. But in the end this is not important. Because it is the photographer taking the image, not the camera. The camera won’t tell you how […]
Time to show some photos I recently took. A few weeks ago I was at the dutch north sea shore. On that trip I also took my camera and here are some shots I took during these days. These photos are also available in the „Photos“ section of this website. Photo taken with the Samyang 8 mm and a frontal flash to light up the subject. As you can observe I am hooked to my Samyang 8 mm fisheye lens these days. I just like the distortion of that thing. And the opening angle of about 170 degrees. Gee, I am such a nerd. Something different, this time not with the 8 mm. That was the rental car we had. I placed a flash unit inside the car and triggered it with the on-camera flash. The on-camera flash did not contribute tot the lighting setup. I like the minimalistic look of that image.
A few weeks ago a brilliant plan of mine, a cunning plan so to say, backfired. While eagerly waiting for the D800 to arrive on the stage of photographic enjoyables I thought about making room for the new toy which is hopefully to be announced on October 26th. So I went through my gear and thought about selling my trusted old D70s. I approached a colleague at work of whom I know that he did some analog Nikon photography years ago. The conversation went something like this: Me: „Hey dude, you want to go digital ? I have my camera for sale – interested ?“ Him: „Hm, don’t know. I ponder things like this quite a while before I decide.“ Me: „C’Mon, it’s a D70s, a very good camera ! Buy it ! Juicy juicy Nikon cam“ Him: „Still don’t know. Hey, but I have a 2x teleconverter with autofocus function.“ Me: „How much ?“ And there the sale talk turned upside down. I have not bought the teleconverter yet, but I borrowed and tried it. Some nights ago was a very juicy moon. I have that awesome Samyang 800 mm f8 mirror tele lens, and that I wanted to […]
Sardinia is an island with many spectacular caves. Two of them I visited, the southeastern Grotto su Marmuri and the mid-south-western Grotto su Mannau. These caves are huge, sporting a roof ceiling of 70 m at the biggest point. The stalactites and stalagmites come in all sizes – a few cm to a few meters. The caves are also incredibly old. The stalactites speak their own language – to grow 1 cubic centimeter it takes 100 years. Do the math. To illustrate the vastness of these underground structures nothing else than the trusted 8 mm Samyang lens could come into question. Things to consider when shooting in such caves: Low light conditions. It’s underground. Yes, it’s dark. Only the installed lamps illuminate the scenery. So here the classic low-light recipe is once again your choice. Wide open aperture, high ISO, tripod. Halt Stopp ! In this particular case, namely the 8 mm Samyang, wide open aperture does not work. Except you like blurry pictures which look like you have had too much to drink and then smeared a pound of good German butter on the lens…. At f3.5 the pictures are very blurry at the Samyang, gradually getting better when […]
Today I decided to combine a necessary and a pleasing activity. I made a time-lapse video of me folding the laundry. Some background info. Movies usually display 24 frames per second, because with this number the human brain can not distinguish between the individual frames any more. Read a previous post I did concerning this topic. Time-lapse videos show a process accelerated. Famous examples are plants growing. This usually takes weeks, with a time-lapse video you can show this in a few seconds. The effect is achieved by taking a picture only every X seconds (minutes, days depending on what you want to capture). In my example here I wanted to capture me folding the laundry. I found an excellent article on photojojo.com which explains the technical details (planning the duration, shooting etc.), so I am not going into the basics. I will only go into details on the specific situation of this video: Shot on a tripod with the Nikon D300s. The D300s has an interval shooting mode, so you don’t have to use an external interval timer. Not many DSLRs have that feature, so you might have to use an external interval-thingy if you want to to time-lapses. […]