Archive for the ‘Cameras’ Category

Furry Tail Fling

Posted: May 20, 2018 in Cameras, nature, wildlife

Levitating squirrel leaves only a trace of tail – too quick for me. I have become slightly obsessed with wildlife in the last month – many robin pictures, too many hummingbird pictures, many missed egret pictures. On cold grey days I have watched Youtube videos of photographers showing off their super long camo-covered lenses and sharing their tips for capturing BIF (birds-in-flight). I suspect my interest will soon return to the species I am most familiar with – Homo sapiens.

Punchy Profile

Posted: August 24, 2017 in Cameras, Lenses, Photo equipment, Photography

Shameless grandchild show-off. I just had the urge to make a picture of Walter and decided to isolate the cheeky chum with my Nikkor 180mm f2.8 wide open and D610 camera. Super simple set-up with a Nikon SB800 flash through a soft box, 12 quick frames and bingo!

Three for One

Posted: April 9, 2017 in Cameras, Photography, University City

Technology is a wondrous thing but with great power comes great responsibility. The easier it is to produce special effects the more important to stretch beyond the obvious. HDR photography is a great example — you can produce HDR with your phone camera, but why settle for a gimmick? Think content and decide, “will this tech trick impart greater meaning to this photograph? Am I stopping too soon because I see a neat image on the camera screen?”  Think of the sports mantra — follow through.

Panning the Purple Rain

Posted: October 7, 2016 in Cameras, NYC, Photography

rain bike
The joy of waiting for a bus in the rain. Time to make pictures. Showing motion in a still photograph can be tough. I chose to pan and use the built-in flash of the Nikon D610 to make it happen. I photographed about 15 cyclists before the bus arrived and this was the best (and last) of the lot. Of course the rain makes the picture, but I like the iconic NYC cab and the purple too. Panning is an art — you try different settings and adjust — this was 1/15 second at f4 using a 50mm lens. The digital advantage: make adjustments on the fly, review, and keep refining the image.

Gateway Arch
Had a lot of fun recently with a group of aspiring photo enthusiasts as we photo-walked the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – aka Gateway Arch. An eclectic group of snappers, we took to the streets, engaging visitors and capturing a sense of the city.  Part of our assignment was to approach and photograph a stranger — my métier. These tourists from Colorado were as friendly as only Westerners can be. I also chatted up a NYC couple who were equally jovial. But more interesting for me was meeting strange new photographers.

Journalism school pressed Paul and me into the maw of about 20 of the most aggressive and motivated would-be photojournalists (I guess I am not exaggerating) in the world. We would constantly critique each other’s work — and what the professors said about our pictures/stories — ouch — I still have scars.  Later when I taught photojournalism, I was brutally honest with my students, occasionally at the cost of tears and always with a reward of better future pictures. I like to think I have mellowed over the years and more importantly, I have slowly come to realize that photojournalism-style photography is not all there is. Shocking. The photo-walk provided me an opportunity to share my expertise and learn from others. Advantage for me, interacting with new photogs requires the same skills as street photography, an honest approach and openness to rejection (ha ha). Just like the wonder of connecting with folks you have never seen before and making their picture, chatting with photographers who have a different visual Weltanschauung can be daunting. If you are going to walk the photo walk, prepare to talk the photo talk.  For snap samples search Instagram using #isrphotoswalk

Round Spring
Round Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is a great place for snapshots… But it reminds me why I am not a “scenic/nature” photographer. First, you have to really work hard to create a picture that is not just another postcard snap. Second, you have to be up early (above is 7am with the temperture about -2 celsius) and dress appropriately (I had no gloves – d’oh). Third, you have to haul a lot of gear- tripods, flash, filters, etc. I love the idea but I have to work my strength — stick with human scenery.

Gear Gear Gear = ZZZ

Posted: September 27, 2015 in Cameras, Lenses, Photo equipment

Nikon 1 -- Edwin
I can hear heads thumping… Please, just show me pictures, don’t be a boor and bore me with gear talk. That disclaimer out-of-the-way — GEAR!!!

On one of his Dover beach strolls Paul met fellow photographer, Edwin (pictured above), who is enamored with the Nikon One system of little mirrorless cameras. This picture reminded me of the days when photojournalists would routinely be draped with three or four camera bodies — each with a different lens.  These are commonly refered to as “primes” now.  (I am a pre-zoom guy and it was rare to see a zoom carried by a professional photographer in the 1970-1980s).

My last kit in the newspaper days consisted of three Leica R bodies with five lenses at hand – 19, 35, 90, 180, 400. and as need arose a Lecia M4 with 50mm.

But now, as I have explained in earlier articles, Paul and I shoot with DSLRs and zooms.  He opts for APS-C cameras, primarily lightweight Nikon D5X00 series, with “super zooms” for convenience i.e. 10-24, 18-200, 55-300. He arguments these with a 35mm f 1.8 Nikkor “prime.’  I go with a combo of Nikon D610 and D300 and seven Nikkor lenses from 16- 300.

Edwin with the Nikon One system has an “off-the shelf” Nikkor range from 18- 810 with the current stash of about 15 lenses — sounds gear yummy — but rather limited with only three primes and mostly consumer-grade medium range zooms. One caveat for legacy Nikon users — there is the FT1 mount adapter, that supports autofocus and vibration reduction, for 80+ Nikon lenses (with a 2.7x crop factor).

Anyway — warned you this was tedious — Paul wondered about image Quality aka IQ of this system compared to the mirrorless competition – Sony, Panasonic, et al.  Pixel peepers can look this up at dxomark. We daydreamed that it would be fun in a dorkie kind of way to drape oursleves with four Nikon One bodies with  6.7-13mm, 70-300mm, 32mm f/1.2, 18.5mm f/1.8 lenses. Prepared for any photo-j exigency.

The conclusion was that we have to “keep it real man” and think in terms of the plane of focus behind the camera. If you don’t have a vision (and know your audience) all the gear and pixels in the world will still produce a head-thumping snooze.

Mantis religiosa

The eyes are the window to the soul… or some such gimcrack-ie.  Nonetheless, standard photo advice is to get the focus on the eyes and add catchlight if it adds depth. This little wonder (Mantis religiosa aka praying mantis) was walking up my stair rail and striking a pose. Caught the image with AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D and Nikon D610.

Channel Fling

Posted: August 24, 2015 in Cameras, Lenses, Photo equipment

1 jumper sam cox _0028-1400
Paul is back in the UK and practicing his craft(y) ways. He captured this fearless channel jumper in Dover using a $30 add-on fish eye lens. Oh, but the water is cold.

PASM Quandary

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Cameras, Photo equipment, Photography


Riding the subway, I was asked by a newbie Nikon user how to adjust the aperture of his lens. I was very impressed that the photographer knew that he had an aperture and I showed him the “A” setting and had to jump off at my subway destination leaving the fledgling with an abbreviated lesson.  I feel compelled to continue the discussion (and needed an excuse to post this cute “chimping pic”). ASPM, MSAP, MASP, PMSA, PSMA (just don’t call it SPAM) is simply a designation for setting your camera to the following:

  • A  Aperture  — you designate the lens opening and the camera will set the shutter
  • S Shutter — you designate the shutter speed and the camera will set the aperture
  • P Program — the camera makes an “educated” guess on the proper setting
  • M Manual — you make all the decisions

So which to use?  I have my cameras set to A 95% of the time. Most often I am concerned with either isolating the subject (lens wide open –  f1.4, f2.0, f2.8) or garnering complete focus from up-close to infinity (lens “stopped” down to f11, f16, f22). Naturally there are a great many other reasons and variables to consider, such as camera movement, optimum f-stop for image quality, etc.  Can’t wait for the next subway question!

Battle Ready

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Cameras, Photography

Lake Michigan

On a jaunt to Toronto and stopped for the night in Anywhere Michigan where we were billeted across from the local VFW. Had to share this preliminary edit. HDR is overdone, but in this case it just seemed like the patriotic thing to do.


I am no nature photographer, but I still love the out-of-doors (or inside the screen doors). While sipping coffee on the veranda, I was happy to see Mr. Hummingbird swoop in for a snack.  Shooting through screen really degrades an image — but if you are outside anywhere near the little birdy — it is birdy be gone. My solution was to put the camera on a tripod just outside the screen door, attach a remote cable and wait. I let the Nikon D610 and the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm do the heavy lifting of auto-focus and exposure while I sipped coffee and pressed the remote.

Green stink bug
Macro photography is an easy way to demonstrate “depth of field” sometimes also referred to as “depth of focus” where the plane of focus is isolated.  Here you can clearly see on the twig on the right of the image how shallow the area in focus. DOF is determined by distance to subject, lens aperture, and lens focal length. This little green stink bug was photographed at  f6.7 at 1/500 second about six inches away using a AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D on a Nikon D610.

High Angle — Low Angle

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Cameras, Lenses, Photography

This is not rocket surgery folks. If you want a clean background and/or you are a SWA addict (why can’t I resist that 16mm!) you need to think about getting high or getting low.  Here are my two examples from Earth Day activities at Forest Park in St. Louis.
Earth day

Earth day


Bridget, a charming and talented photographer, had a photo exhibit at “Create Space” here in University City and we started comparing notes on what makes a “keeper.”  Bridget’s example was a dance she photographed in Turkey — low light, movement, and muddled colors. She was ready to give it up, but she admits to a weakness — seeing if a bad situation can be salvaged by a black and white conversion. She uses iPhoto (now Photos) to up the contrast and increase the definition. Her experience reminded me of a technique I read about–visualizing by setting your LCD to “monochrome” in playback. This can be easily done (in Nikon land) by going to the “set picture control” menu.  Warning, you will have only a black and white picture if you shoot JPEG.  However, if you shoot RAW, all the camera sensor capture info is still there — in full color or in glorious black and white.