Category: Goals

Nikkor 35mm F2 AF D…

The-Road-from-Imladris

I would say that 50% of the time I wanted to take a landscape shot in NZ on my recent trip to the South Island, I wished I’d had a 35mm lens to shoot the scene rather than the 50mm or the 14 – 24mm lenses I had with me at the time. Not because they weren’t great lenses, simply because I felt that the 35mm was a better choice for what I was trying to capture. I made do, and I did come back with some fantastic shots. But I decided that such thoughts had shown me a gap in my lens range that needed to be addressed.

Hence yesterday I took delivery of a Nikkor 35mm F2 AF D. There is a G version of the lens, but it’s considerably more bulky for the slight increase in sharpness and image quality. Not enough in my opinion to warrant the extra expense when size and weight is a far more critical element to me for this choice. Yes it’s an older lens design, but still relevant and reviews very well. Simplicity is often the best answer. There are just some lenses that don’t really need that much improvement, and sometimes that improvement comes at a cost that discounts some or all of the benefits of the previous design.

Like my Nikkor 50mm F1.4 AF D I need something that is easy to slip in the pocket, doesn’t take up much room, and prefer it to use the same size filters (52mm) as the 50mm F1.4 or the 50mm 1.8 lenses.

I’ve yet to give it a good test yet, but hopefully over the next couple of evenings I’ll take it for a walk and try it out. Otherwise I guess it will be getting tested on the weekend.


Weathering the Storm…

Lightning-from-Hill-overlooking-Sebastopol

I took the opportunity of the first decent storm in months to get out and take a few shots of lightning. It’s my first attempt at getting out and shooting in a storm, in particular chasing the Lightning Shots. Also given it was midnight, things were a bit smash and grab as far as gear and location. I grabbed the D600 with the 50mm F1.4 & the Nikon 14-24mm F2.8. I also grabbed a hand release and my MIOPS Trigger hoping I might get a chance to use it for the first time with Lightning too.

So off I drove to the closest vantage point I thought was high but with plenty of other choices for Lightning to strike other than myself! As it turns out, where I parked on the side of the road happened to be unfortunate orientation: over the course of the storm most of the lightning was to the sides of me. However I managed to get 1 out of the 30 shots that worked for me. But to be fair it was my first attempt at this subject matter.

I thought I was stuck not being able to use my MIOPS as I thought I’d not bought the extra cable for the connection for the D600 (it’s different than the D810). As it turned out later when I got back home I realised that the remote release I had been using had a detachable cord with the right connection! Anyway, lesson learned for next time: spend more time with some gear in relaxed conditions. Still shooting in Bulb mode, with the remote release I felt I started to have a good feel for the right way to shoot it near the end of 30 odd shots. I’m looking forward to the next Storm when I will be more prepared.


Why the Downtime…

I’ve been a bit lax putting some new stock up over the last couple of months while trying to settle into a Part-time Photographer, Part-time I.T. person. I’ve also been putting in a a bit of preparation for the planned New Zealand Trip for a month’s worth of Photography in the South Island. Although still some time away, I’m looking forward to shooting some magnificent Scenery, Flora & Fauna. To be honest the most difficult part so far has been locating a Reliable House Sitter. Now that I have one booked in, I’ve just got a few more Itinerary and Strategic things to work out.

Other than the above, the bulk of the time recently has been spent getting comfortable with some of my gear that hasn’t been getting much use for a while, and I’ll need to be quick with it later. Triggers, remotes, remote software are great, but not if you can’t use them fast and reliably when needed.


Juxtaposition of Space…

I’ve reshuffled things about the house to come up with a dedicated studio area for the time being until I can come up with a better solution.

The idea is to separate me from the computer and the editing software, and go back to experimenting with the equipment and up-skilling myself on that which I use less often. Things such as the miops trigger, a couple of my other remote controls for interval shooting etc. It’s annoying sometimes finding you’ve forgotten how to use something or can’t remember how to access that feature quickly. The only thing I know to fix that, is practise with it. It also gives me an area to mess with prints & frames, and have all my equipment in a single location.

At this stage I can fit a reasonable size backdrop in there, albeit only a short shooting distance, which excludes some lenses for portrait work unless it’s just the upper shoulders & head.

There’s also some good light that would allow some studio macro work for some small set shooting. I like to shoot my Flora & Fauna macro work outside in the natural environment, but there are times I want to experiment with something that’s clearly NOT alive, and the “authenticity” is not a factor. Also some of the Focus stacking can be done inside which makes it far easier to control some environmental factors.

Now having some alternative lighting options should give me the ability to make better use of more time!


In the Prime…

Very close to home the last couple of weeks, but did have a chance to experiment with the Nikkor 50mm F1.4 D quite a bit. It’s a wonderful little lens and still does remarkably well on the D810. It’s sharper than the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D but I wouldn’t say hugely so considering the few hundred dollars difference in price. Value for money, the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D at just over a $100 (AU) is probably hands down winner of all the Nikkor lenses. It’s a great little lens that will go in your pocket easily and takes great shots. It’s just a simple thing made well. It’s not perfect, but for the price it’s unjustified to complain. If you have the budget the 1.4 gives you better shots, but those hundreds extra could go towards something else if you have the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D. that said, Mina (featured image) was shot with the Nikkor 50mm F1.4 D. But one of my favourite shots of Tigga was with the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D as was the little tweeter underneath. Also the self portrait I use for my business cards was shot with the Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D. It’s easy to see why the 50mm prime receives such reverence.

Mina Enjoying a Brush

 

This bears closer inspection

While visiting Andrew the other weekend I happened to be graced with Mina modelling herself on the kitchen table when I arrived. I was allowed a few shots before she decided that she’d done enough work, and wandered off to sleep on the window sill. Along with practising with the Nikkor 50mm F1.4 D I’ve begun to experiment with Lens Filters. I’m really appreciating the benefits such accessories bring to my photography. Of course these aren’t the only experiments going on at the moment, but more on that in a later post.


Making Use of Unproductive Downtime…

So further on this 365 Day plan. Having thought about it a bit more, I’ve decided that the Goal should be to spend no more than an hour on the shot each day. That doesn’t include any post production afterwards. Normally that is 5 to 10 minutes maximum. However on Friday (which is the day of the work week scheduled for work on Shards of Arcadia business I will then spruce up the previous week’s collection of shots and post up on Alamy.

This is both an exercise in skill development as well as discipline. I hope, as time goes on that this practice will develop my ability to pull up stock art shots quickly and provide a quality shot in a minimum amount of time in comparison to my more “art focussed” work. Additionally during that period where I’m working on the stock in the Post Production Session, after uploading I shall spend a bit of time researching forums & blogs for what seems to be in demand (or lacking) at the moment. If I can develop some work around those themes, it’s likely something will be in a better position to sell.

Additionally I’m starting another exercise, building a collection of oddities that will serve as inspiration for shots when I’m struggling for an idea. So as I find interesting things that I think that could make an interesting shot, if it’s small enough it will go in the “Rainy Day Shot Box” for inspiration. If it’s too big to go in the box obviously I need to make a note about it in my “Inspiration Journal”. So if I don’t have a project on, or it’s not feasible to be working on one of the Projects, I can reach into either the “RD Shot Box” or the “IJ” for something to work on. Not sure my life can afford many more wasted moments.


365 Day Plan…

I’ve decided that as of next week, starting Monday the 16th November, I’m going to initiate a 365 day plan. It will involve taking a stock art photo every day and putting it up on my Alamy site. The purpose obviously is to get that stock up on that site to start complementing my Shards of Arcadia site. If I follow this plan, that will mean I’ll have close to 400 stock photos up on Alamy within a year. Giving me a much better chance of generating income there.


Just One More Fork in the Road (we’re on)…

Well now that I’ve launched my Online Store this blog will probably take a little bit of a different focus from now on and although it will still be updated with photos regularly, some will also go in the shop too. However there will still be photos on here that I don’t think will sell for one reason or another, so they won’t be available to see via the Online Store. So there will still be a reason to visit this site too for those only interested in seeing the photos, and not really interested in technical discussions.

Over the next couple of weeks the organisation of this site might change a bit, not greatly, but enough to reflect the different flavour the site will take on.

There’ll be more discussion on techniques, or the exploration of a theme and some series I will be beginning to work on shortly.


Photography Online Shop going up Soon…

Well this evening I’ve upgraded my Paypal to a business account, and purchased a WordPress theme that I can host for my own online store complete with e-commerce integration. Obviously this is for the Photography not I.T. Should get it up and running this week. This saves me the hassle of having to code and fit’s within my existing System Architecture. I can host it myself or host it anywhere.

This is a demo: Darkroom 2 theme for Photocrati. These are obviously not my photographs. But you can click through to get an idea how the site will function.

When it’s up, http://shardsofarcadia.com/ will no longer redirect to Idyllic Moments in Time: Shards of Arcadia | How I’d like it to be… but be it’s own entity and allow e-business via Paypal & Credit Card.


Let’s Lose Some Weight…

I’ve scraped enough extra cash up to invest in a carbon fibre legged tripod & Three Axis Head for the trekking while outdoor and wildlife shooting. The gear is mounting up in the weight department over the last year and makes 15km or more walks, or all day walking and carrying quite an effort physically.

In fact I managed to buy from an Australian Company for $100 cheaper than I could get it from any of my usual overseas “grey market” suppliers. A pleasant surprise, and as I’ve said before, happy to support Australian Photographic Gear Suppliers as long as the prices are not unreasonably different. I do always look at my preferred Australian Suppliers first, but it’s not often they’re willing to be competative. When they are I’m willing to give them my support in return.

I opted for another Manfrotto Tripod. I’ve been happy with the previous metal legged model I have, but just need to trim some weight. Tripods are well known culprits. It’s a tricky balance between sturdiness and stability; compactness & weight being the counterbalance.

Of course not only do you have to contend with the overall stability, but the flexibility of directional control provided by the tripod head. I had two choices of head available without going out on my own special choice. I opted for the X Pro 3 way head as against the alternative 496RC2. I’ve tried a couple of friend’s “Ball Heads”, and confess to not finding them my preferred mode. It is probably me, but I find it easier to deal along each axis individually, than wrestle with the weight of the camera & Lens while trying to position a “Ball Head”. Either of course has the same Rectangular Quick Release Plate as my other tripods, so I have streamlined changes of camera out in the field.

I’ve yet to take it on a trek out, only having received it today, but since posts have been scarce for a month and a half, it seemed a good opportunity to get back into posting action. Life outside of Photography has been rather busy and full of change.