Sunday, April 29, 2012

Startrails at VSU with the Nikon D800E

More digital images? What is the world coming to? Alas, I am very much enjoying using the D800E for some casual shooting. Long-exposure astrophotography is another hobby of mine that I haven't been able to do in a while so I thought I'd take the D800E out for a spin to try it out.

Even with longer exposures the files look great. I didn't even use a darkframe. This is just a test shot as I want to do a longer exposure later this week.

Taken with a 17-35mm f/2.8 lens at 19mm, f/7.1, and ISO 100. This is a composite of 70 30-second exposures:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some test images from my new Nikon D800E

This blog is mostly about shooting film, but even so I do shoot a lot of digital images, usually when I'm doing event photography or portraiture. The new Nikon D800E is an exciting development in camera design, which I decided to invest in to have two cameras for gigs.

I had just enough time to snap a few shots around the Azalea Trail near VSU yesterday. I shot an event last night but haven't really worked on those images. Here are just a couple photos to illustrate the excellent quality of the D800E. All were taken with either a 55mm Micro or 17-35mm zoom. You can open these up as full 3000px files if you want to really look at the captured detail. Of course the original files are over 7000px long but I didn't really want full-rez copies on here.

My first impressions on the D800E are excellent. The dynamic range on this camera is indeed phenomenal as many tests have alluded. The ISO performance bests my D700 at the same magnification ratio, with more detail. The high-ISO performance over 3200 can get noisy at 100% but so can any camera. It's a feat of engineering that it looks as good as it does at 36mp. Color accuracy outdoors was fantastic.

At the event I shot last night I did notice some strange green-tinting on some shots. Some folks have claimed the LCD is tinted green. From my experiences outdoors, I saw absolutely no problem. In doors, under ugly fluorescent lights, there was definitely a green tint. The question was whether it was the white-balance being wrong or the LCD looking wrong. From my examination of the files on my color-corrected monitor, it's about an even split between the two. It seems that the camera does default to a slightly green WB (even with flashes), and the LCD under those fluorescent bulbs looks even greener. So I set the WB 2 clicks towards magenta and it was fine. I will have to do more checking though. Regardless, the auto WB seemed much better than my D700, which I always felt was a little weak.

As predicted, deficiencies in lenses and shooting technique show up easily in 36mp. The mirror seems to be well dampened in this camera but even so it caused movement sometimes.  Handheld at 1/60 or lower is harder than on my D700, but I'm not used to the feeling of that mirror so it might change.

There are many little additions and improvements that are really nice, #1 on my list being the 2-axis level built in to the camera. What a joy to be able to level both horizontally and vertically! My only gripe is that the Mode button was replaced with the movie record button, and the Mode button moved to slightly left of that. It is just barely in easy reach with my long fingers. I wish they would have put the movie record button in the new spot instead. But that's not too big of a deal.

Overall I'm very pleased!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grand Bay Field Trip - 6 8x10 photos

I am teaching a small class about "outdoor photography" and we took a field trip to Grand Bay yesterday morning. I took my 8x10 because I felt like challenging myself to shoot with it. I am mostly sick of Grand Bay but I thought I might "see" differently with the 8x10.

Here are the 6 photos I took. All were with my Nikkor-M 300mm f/9:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Withlacoochee Project Part 2

Shot a few more sheets today at Langdale Park. The water was very low so I was able to get some interesting angles in the middle of what normally would be the flowing river. The first two were taken with the 300mm Nikkor-M at f/90 and the last with the 210mm Symmar-S at f/45. I did some experiments today with printing some of the previous images as Van Dyke Browns, but the contrast was too low. For these I changed the Rodinal dilution to 1:50 rather than 1:100 to up the contrast, so some of the highlights are blown out since my scanner doesn't have high enough D-Max. Hopefully when I try these they will work better as VDB prints.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Withlacoochee Project Part 1

I started a project over the weekend that I am simply calling the "Withlacoochee Project." I am taking 8x10 photos along the Withlacoochee River, and I would like to end up with at least 20-40 contact prints total. I will also be doing Van Dyke Browns and possibly cyanotypes along with silver prints. Here is the first batch of negatives. I used either my Schneider Symmar-S 210mm or Wollensak 159mm (I also am republishing one from last week). They are all brown toned in PS to simulate a Van Dyke Brown. These were all taken at Langdale Park, but I'm planning on going to a variety of places for this:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

On the street with my 8x10

Went out tonight to shoot some x-ray film for fun during First Friday in downtown Valdosta. Things weren't very lively but I did find a couple shots. First off is a bike that was shimmering in the last light of the day on a street corner. I used my Schneider Symmar-S 210mm wide-open at f/5.6 and 1/60, with a bit of front swing, developed in Rodinal 1:100 for 7 minutes. Lost a little shadow detail (I rate this film at 50) due to the high contrast. I haven't gotten a good N-1 development strategy for this film yet. I probably should rate it at 25 and develop for 6 minutes instead. Maybe I'll try that next time. Anyway, here is the shot:

Next is a shot of the Dosta Playhouse. The exposure was f/45 and 4 seconds. Some folks were walking past so they turned into ghostly figures:

Finally, I used my Wollensak 159mm for a shot of the Odafe Trio, some friends of mine who play at a local coffeeshop every First Friday. I didn't have any fast film so the exposure, even wide-open, came out to 8 seconds. I also used a friend's camera to flash them during the shot but that didn't really help to stop motion - not powerful enough. I might have to redo this with some 400 speed film and a real flash:

Also, I took a couple of portraits of my girlfriend yesterday. Here is the better one. This is a Schneider Symmar-S 300mm at f/11:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More portraits and a couple 8x10 sheets

I finally got around to finishing up these portrait scans. These are the shots I mentioned in a recent post that were really underexposed but saved by using Acufine developer. Both were taken with my converted Polaroid and 135mm Xenotar lens.

First is a shot of a dancer. I made a dumb mistake and had my meter set to 3200 ISO, instead of 100. This was an egregious error, a 5-stop underexposure. Despite this, the negative was usable but not great:

I was still working with Acufine to figure out how best to utilize it. With a little more experimentation I took this negative that was also underexposed by 4 stops and it looks almost normal. On the Acufine packaging it mentions to not agitate too much. I don't know the mechanics of why this matters, but I found that simply setting the negative in the developer and only agitating slightly at first and then at 30 minutes worked perfectly (a total of 1 hour in the developer). Here is the result:

I printed it in my darkroom tonight and it came out pretty well. It's not perfect but better than nothing.

I also had time this past weekend to shoot some 8x10 sheets. Here are the results. I shot my typical green-sensitive x-ray film. This first shot was with a Wollensak 159mm super-wide angle lens:

This one was shot with a Gundlach Triple-Convertible lens that is a 12" lens with both elements or either a 21" or 28" lens with the individual elements. This one was at 12":

Still simply learning about this x-ray film and its properties. 8x10 is fun to shoot just for kicks. That is probably strange but at the end of the day the per-sheet cost of this x-ray film is only $0.25, much less than my standard 4x5 film, so it's great not to worry so much about costs!