Archive for the ‘Lenses’ Category

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!

The Nose Knows

Posted: July 22, 2017 in Lenses, Photography

By a nose…   Went to the Fairmount Park Racetrack to wager on the ponies (ha ha, those $2.00 bets add up) and dragged along the big tele zoom. Only got a handful of snaps and was happy with this capture. But this is the kind of photo that would drive me crazy as a photo editor; keep the context, or get really close on the jockey’s intense face?


Face the Day

Posted: November 6, 2016 in Delmar Loop, Lenses, University City

Interesting how sometimes there is more to a face than meets the casual glance. I found my subject quietly sitting in the Loop and observing.  I am not sure of his worldview, he is not a big talker, but I would venture that those eyes don’t miss much.  On a technical note, I used the Nikon D610 with an  AF-S Nikkor
80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR (whew). I was contemplating selling this lens — a hefty 1570g — but when I have my mojo working (in focus and no camera movement) the images just shine and it is such a useful focal range, arrrgggh, guess I have to resume weight lifting.


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.


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

Event Save ala VR

Posted: February 17, 2015 in Cameras, Events, Lenses, Photo equipment, Photography



Part of photographing an event is capturing the speaker at the podium. In the film days this would require some patience and a roll of grainy high-speed film using a fast telephoto lens. Now with the evolution of lenses and cameras it is still a challenge, but it is more manageable.  In these examples from the recent MOSEIA annual conference, I was able to sit in the middle of the auditorium (not pestering the speakers too much) and with my Nikkor 70-300 VR zoom get nice animated snaps of the esteemed speakers. VR is an interesting technology — the lens whirs at some crazy high rpm with little gyros that stabilize the lens movement (or maybe there are little squirrels that race around a circular cage inside the lens barrel). I can take advantage of the 300 mm focal length, I don’t have to have a heavy, expensive f2.8 lens and I can keep my distance.  This, combined with a moderately high ISO in my Nikon D610, gets me the shot.  You can see though that you are limited to stabilizing the lens, not freezing the subject — I am shooting at 1/60 second at f5.6 — too slow for stop-action.

NO NO NO, I am not talking about my totally innocent U-City Loop neighbor who was sweet enough to pose on the spur of an (intoxicated) late-night moment, but poor Johnny who can’t resist a bargain.  In this case I am shooting with a new used (err, pre-owned) Nikon D300 and a new pre-owned AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens that I could not refuse. Damn, if you can wait six years the greatest technology can be yours for a song. Now, can I wait for the uber sweet AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR? BTW, that is ISO 4500 @ 1/8 sec @ f3.8 @ 18mm.

eagle   eagle   IMG_6768

So you have a DSLR and you want to make pictures of birdies?  Ummm — best be prepared to spend a bundle on a 500mm lens and/or get a new Zen sense of patience. On a recent visit to Clarksville Missouri we watched as the “birders” watched and waited and waited and waited for the wild eagles, which winter near the Mississippi River, to entertain them. Of course, if you aren’t picky, you can get your avian snaps at the zoo or — where I got this close-up — at the World Bird Sanctuary.
World Bird Sanctuary

Red and Dred

Posted: September 28, 2014 in Lenses, Photography

Red  Dred

No real news here, but I wanted to use that catch line red and dred. My take-away from this set is watch your behind. Even if you are shooting with a so-so aperture lens — in this case a slow, but nice and sharp 16-85 Nikkor f3.5 to f5.6 — you can keep the attention on your subject with a clean background. In other news, Paul is trolling through LA and I expect to make some interesting posts on his travels soon. Tough to edit and travel.

As many photographers have heard, Nikon had some problems with the D600 camera body. Many owners complained that they were seeing spots. The sensor was a problem in collecting dirt/oil/dust and repairs were not always sucessful. John had this problem with his camera and sent it in for cleaning… unfortunately he did not anticipate an upcoming road trip and was going to be sans-camera for a travel foray — ARRRAGGHH. However, the Nikon Gods shined down on him and have over-night-aired a new D610 for his trouble.  Yes, a new-in-the-box camera to replace the D600.  This is the Nikon we all bowed down to in the 1970s as the standard-of-the-industry. Regardless of fault (or in lieu of suing) thanks Nikon for showing you are still first class.

Having the latest equipment is a great thing — state-of-the art. But if you are headed to an area rife with crime or are lax about watching your gear when on the road you can save some nigthmares by downsizing for your trip. Either pack the new three-thousand-dollar D810 that any thief would be happy with or cruise the used marketplace and get a lose-able 10 megapixel Nikon dx body with a beat-up 18-55mm Nikkor for $100 bucks. Just saying…