Photo Graph

Discussions in Photography


Old School New School

I purchased some larger SD cards (32gb) the other day.  They aren’t the fastest cards but the price was right and they work just fine in both the Nikon D600 and my little Fujifilm X-M1.  On the X-M1 the give me something like 1200 images before I run out of space.  With all that space I thought I would try out creating jpg files along with the normal raw files.

Fujifilm is known for it color film and they have included profiles for some of their more famous film stocks. I shot some images of Fred our backyard plant. I tried to emulate the feel of the jpg when doing the raw conversion in Lightroom 5.4. I wasn’t quite spot on with my conversion but I like the extra crispness I processed into the image.


Vievia (Vivid)This first image is the jpeg file direct from the camera. The only change was to resize down to 1600 x 960. The Veivia has some very nice reds and is a little soft.

Raw (Processed)This is my attempt at duplicating the feel of the Fujifilm. I cropped the raw file down to 16×9 like the jpeg and then pushed and pulled the Lightroom levers to this result.  I should probably add the raw file so we compare to how the raw file is presented before customization.



Night Photography

Using todays modern cameras images of stars in the night can be easily obtained. As long as you live or can get to a place where night time is actually dark.  My backyard just is not the place. Kind of like living in a large camera with a light leak. Still with a bit of effort you can get some interesting images.   Full Of Stars This was from my backyard shooting almost straight up.  The image was taken on a 16mm fish-eye at F2.8  for 15 seconds with an ISO of 800. If I didn’t have so much ambient light I could have either extended the open shutter time or upped the ISO to pull in the fainter stars.

Using a wide angle lens gives you a view of a larger portion of the sky it also allows for longer exposures without the starts moving in the image. A lens between 16mm and 28mm is your best bet. Use the most wide open aperture that your lens allows.  F/1.4 to F2.8 if you have a lens that opens up that wide.  You must have a really sturdy tripod. You should also use a remote shutter release or use the self timer to let the camera stabilized before the shutter opens. The last issue is to get the stars in focus which you probably will do manually unless you have a real good live view on your camera. I try to set my focus just below infinity (even stars are not an infinite distance from the lens).

Beware, night photography can become addicted and you end up doing things like getting up at 2:45am to try and see nonexistent meteor showers.   jr



I  won a copy of onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 7 at Photoshop World after Joe Glyda’s Live Food Shoot Session.  This is a first try at Perfect B&W, I picked the look with the most stuff going on.  I have a lot more experimenting to do with this .


PS.  I tried using the onOne Suite  on an iMac 27in. with only 4 gigs of memory it was really sluggish.  The program really wants more memory as Lightroom is running at the same time so I have the same 24mb file running on each application. 16 gig makes the program really work well.


Early Morning.

The other morning the moon was still up and there was mist on the pond behind the house.  I used an ev -1 to get detail in the moon. Once again the amount of detail in the Nikon D600 sensor is amazing.

Sunrise Moonset

Shot with the Nikkor 24-85mm 1:35-4.5 G lens at 72mm.


Clouds as Subject

I’ve been shooting clouds since I first switched to digital. I finally realized that I’ve been pretty much putting the cloud subject in the middle of the image. Now you don’t always get a chance to move the subject to a more balanced place.  This image takes a bit of a different direction with the cloud filling the lower third of the image.

Makes for an rather nice image.  You don’t always get a chance to isolate the image like this.


Macro Or Not (Getting to know your equipment).

I have two prime micro lenses.  With either of these lens I can get really close to the subject. The problem with such close up shooting is the loss of depth of field.  No matter how closed down the lens aperture  is there is going to be some area of the image that is out of focus.  If you have a subject that you are shooting straight on like a painting and you can get your film plane to be parallel with the painting you can get everything in focus and sharp.

February Tulip

If the subject is at an angle to the parallel you will get parts that are out of focus once you get closer than a certain distance.  In some cases you can get pretty close to the macro image with a zoom lens or a longer lens without going to macro mode.  It pays to know how close you can get with each of your lenses.  You need to know your equipment.

In my case I’ve researched all my lens and have put together a list of minimum focus distances.  I keep them in Evernote because I can retrieve the information from all of my devices, computers, ipad, phone.

  • AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D                                              1.5′  (0.48m)
  • AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR                    1.25′ (0.38m)
  • AF-SVR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G IF-ED          4.9′ (1.5m)
  • AF Zoom-Nikkor 18-35mm F/3.5-4.5D IF ED                    1.1′ (0.33m)
  • AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8D                                        0.72′ (0.22m)
  • AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED                    1.0′ (0.314m)

With my 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR i can move in as close as 16 inches from the subject. At the 85mm zoom I can get some good detailed shots with a lot of depth of field.  I’ve just put my 70-300mm on the endangered list as the 28-300mm now out has a minium focus distance of 18 inches. At 300mm that should get me pretty close.


Shooting Orion

Last night was warm and as clear as could be.  I was out watching the rocket launch from my front yard and realized that it was a perfect night for some star photography.  I set up the tripod, set the D600 to manual (5.6 at 10 seconds ISO 1600) and tried a few shots.  I was disappointed with the results.  It is next to impossible to focus on stars in the dark through the view finder. So tonight being just as clear just about 20 degrees cooler I was back for a second time.  I thought that I might be able to use live view to get the stars in focus.  That didn’t work either.  What ended up working was using a flashlight to make sure that I was focused at infinity and then started shooting.


This image was taken with a 13 second exposure with the 24-85mm zoom at 80mm.  You can see some trailing of the stars.   If you look at the bottom of the image you can see Orion’s sword with the middle star that is the Orion Nebula.  As a second effort I’m please with the image.  For the next time I think I should wait until a little later at night this one was about 1 hour after sunset. I could have waited a little longer.  I think I will also try using a wider angle like 50mm or so to get more sky in.  I should also try 24mm for a wide view of the sky.


On Smoke

Tonight was my first attempt to photograph smoke.  The results were not bad for a first try. The biggest issue was finding a store that had incense for the smoke. I  did find more than I needed at World Market. Kind of felt like an old hippie (wait I am an old hippie) going in and asking for the incense aisle. The first results weren’t perfect but gave me a starting point.

Smoke (Series 1) A

The camera was a Nikon D600 with the AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D  lens set at F13 and most of the images were shot at 1/125 sec.  I used a Westcott Strobelite 300 watt strobe positioned to the right and just back of the incense stick.  On a couple of the images I used white foam core for a fill light from the left side.

Smoke (Series 1) BSmoke (Series 1) B

I left the camera in Auto White Balance which may have picked a bit to blue color.  I did some color adjusting and found that the color really doesn’t matter.  Some of the images I warmed up considerably. Smoke looks good in any color. I think Smoke (Series 1) C below is closest to the real color.

Smoke (Series 1) CSmoke (Series 1) C

I set the incense too close to the background, I had some spill from the strobe which was hard to adjust out without losing the detail in the smoke. Moving the incense away from the background should have darkened it down more.  I think that might have given me a better angle for the strobe. I was at about 30 degrees behind the smoke and probably could have gone to 45 degrees. Smoke (Series 1) D

Smoke (Series 1) D

You may notice that all these images were cropped to a square format.  I had some spill at the edges and the 1 to 1 crop looks pretty good. Development was done in Lightroom 4 and really only has Basic panel adjustments.  I didn’t have to change the exposure and the changes were mostly increasing the contrast, highlights and whites, and decreasing the shadows and blacks.  I did increase the clarity to varying degrees.

I did do this shoot a night in a fairly dark room as I think it helps getting the background black. Also make sure you have the incense on something that doesn’t burn as the ash falls off the incense stick pretty quickly.  I moved the air around a bit in some of the images to get different patterns.

Smoke (Series 1) ESmoke (Series 1) E

All in all things worked out pretty well. I have a number of things to set right on the next smoke shoot.  Below is the setup._DSC0735