Check out our May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter for great articles on photo technique as well as updates on our trips.
In this Newsletter:
– Stuff I Like This Month
– May GOAL Assignment: Shoot at High ISO
– Photo Techniques: Three Steps to a Beautiful White Background
– Digital Tidbits: Analog Efex Pro 2
– Photo Techniques: Telling a Simple Story Through Photos
– Workshop and Business Updates
One of my favorite things to do on Safari in Tanzania is to photograph the amazing night sky. There is almost zero atmospheric pollution and on clear nights it feels as if you are a part of the cosmos. Here are a few shots of the starry nights in Tanzania.
The above shot is a composite of two images. I exposed the first image for the tent and the shadows. It is lit up so well because there were very small lanterns all around the camp area. To the naked eye, the lighting was incredibly dim. However, when I photographed the scene with a really long exposure, the building burned in and lit up like it was in daylight.
I exposed the second photo in the sequence for the stars using a high ISO and a relatively short exposure. I didn’t want the stars to blur from a long exposure, so I needed to use an ISO of about 3200, aperture of f2.8 and shutter speed about 5 seconds.
Back at my office in the USA, I brought the images into Photoshop to do a little bit of cleanup and white balance fine tuning. My final step was to use Nik HDR Efex Pro to merge them and perform a mild HDR process.
This photo above is from a single shot taken with a Nikon D700. I exposed for the sky which meant that the foreground was almost completely black. Since the shot was taken in 14 bit RAW, I knew I could brighten the foreground with the right digital tool set. I used Nikon Capture NX2 and and four Control Points to gently brighten the foreground.
This green colored sky is the result of an image I took with my Nikon D700 at Ngorongoro Crater. I’m still not quite sure why the sky has this interesting color cast, but I love the result. The shot was taken at ISO 6400 and the exposure time was about 5 seconds long.
Sometimes the clouds get in the way of your night photography (above). In these cases, take the photo anyways! You might just be surprised with the final pic.
Last weekend I had a chance to test out the high ISO capabilities of the new Nikon D7000. The event was a play produced by the Missoula Children’s Theater and held at a local high school auditorium. Missoula Children’s Theater and an elementary school put together an amazing rendition of the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The incredible thing is they did all the casting, wardrobe and practice in only five days! Missoula Children’s Theater travels the world putting together these acting opportunities for children and do an astounding job each and every time. Every year, they run acting programs for over 65,000 children. 65,000 kids per year!
Anyways, I photographed the play with the Nikon D7000, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 and Nikon TC-14E teleconverter. All the photos shown here were shot at ISO 3200 with no in-camera ISO noise reduction. The lighting for the auditorium was tungsten and included a typical array of stage lights hung from the rafters above. My shutter speed varied from about 1/100 sec to 1/200 sec, so I turned on the VR (vibration reduction) for the lens since I was hand holding the camera.
The results? Awesome. I’m very impressed with the high ISO capability of the Nikon D7000. Yes, there was noise in the photographs, but all the pictures were usable and cleaned up very quickly with post processing. One of my favorite ways to clean up small amounts of noise is Lightroom 3. I really like the noise reduction utilities in the program and photographs look just great after a quick slider control develop module. Another method I like for cleaning up files is processing the D7000 files in Capture NX2 and performing noise reduction as a New Step.
It is amazing to me that Nikon can produce a 16 MP camera in a DX sensor that creates great looking pics at ISO 3200. Good job Nikon and I can’t wait to see what is in store for your future cameras!
A couple of nights ago my home town of Gig Harbor, Washington held the annual Christmas boat parade. Lots of people decorate their yachts in Christmas lights, then motor through Gig Harbor in a long parade. It is great fun to come out and see all your old friends while enjoying the sights and sounds of the season.
For these photographs, I took along my Nikon D700 and shot the images between ISO 640 to 2500. Although I brought along a tripod, I actually didn’t use it for most of the photographs because I was able to keep my shutter speed fairly high. Also, the city dock was shoulder to shoulder with people, so there really wasn’t enough space to set up the tripod without tripping someone.
Shooting with Nikon’s large sensors and big pixels means I’m able to take photographs I never dreamed of before. I continue to be amazed at the quality of the images at ISO 2500.
Keep pushing those cameras folks! They can take it.
For those of you wanting the ultimate in high ISO performance, Nikon has just announced the D3S. This amazing camera is capable of shooting at ISO 102,400. Yes, 102,400. This system allows shooting in near darkness. Imagine the photos you can get of your Granddaughter’s Christmas play this year. Imagine shooting wildlife after the sun has set and still getting sharp photographs.
Nikon has also added 720p video with autofocus to the new body. The D3S is a power house with a substantial feature set. The camera should be ready for purchase in December.