Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Shooting Theatre

One of the things I most enjoy doing is taking photographs for friends upon request.  I’ve done weddings, engagement pictures, civil ceremonies, family and children’s portraits.  For the church that we attend I also shoot the Easter and Christmas plays, then post the pictures on Facebook.  The plays are very professionally done, and the director, Romeo Ciolfi, runs his own independent production house.

The Nikon D700 and the Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF lens are a match made in heaven for this type of photography.  The low light performance of the D700 is absolutely astounding, and the 80-200mm quick focusing and very sharp.  The newer model  70-200mm with Vibration Reduction would be even better. 
In the past I had used fast manual focus lenses, such as the 135mm f2 Ai-S on my D2X, but subjects move too fast making it difficult to keep up, and the shallow depth of field added to the problems as it necessitated spot on focus accuracy.  The D2X isn’t all that flash at high ISO either, so noisy out of focus pictures were sometimes the norm.

Even with a fast auto focus lens, the technique is still a bit tricky though.  Due to the huge contrast caused by stage lighting it is very easy to blow out the actor’s faces to a white blob of over exposure.  This means I must set the camera to centre spot metering, get a reading on the actor’s face, hold in the exposure lock and recompose the picture.

Bye, Bye Louis The Fly

I LOVE shooting macro, and the closer the better.  It’s amazing how tiny details you’d never thought possible to see are revealed.  Most macro lenses either do 1:2 or the better ones 1:1, ie the object is life size on the sensor (or film).  A 2cm bee is 2cm long on a film negative.

However this is not enough for me, I want Ultra Macro!

A cost effective way to achieve this is to mount your lens on backwards.  A little difficult without an adapter, and you need to be very careful not to scratch the lens glass if you don’t have a filter and decide to hand hold.  Luckily such adapters are cheap on eBay, but interestingly Nikon makes their own – the BR2 and BR2A reversal rings.  They are a male lens mount attached to an inner 52mm filter thread mount.
The best lenses for this are wider primes, such as 20mm, 24mm and 28mm.  50mm works fine too, but you don’t get as much magnification.  Extension tubes will increase the magnification again.

In practice it’s a little difficult to shoot and get good results every time.  The depth of field is so shallow than minimum aperture is needed (ie f16 or f22), but when you look through the viewfinder it becomes too dark to see what you are doing.  So the technique of focusing at wide open aperture, holding still to stop down the lens to minimum aperture, and then shooting; all takes patience.

Before Louis was taken to his final resting place, he was shot on our window sill with a Nikon D2X, a reversed Nikon 24mm f2 lens set at f22 connected to a Nikon PK-11 extension tube and BR2 reversal ring, then lit with a Nikon SB-800 flash pointing downwards with a diffuser.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Hanging Out With My Mates In The Back Yard

Once I read somewhere how, when using a Full Frame camera, a 24mm lens on minimum aperture coupled to a Nikon K1 extension tube; depth of field from the end of the camera lens to infinity could be achieved.  Perfect for those shooting scale models of buildings and the like.

So I found a K1 extension tube at a Pawn shop on Queen Street and decided to give it a go.

My subject was 2 large beetles and a bumble bee (recently deceased) that I had come across in our backyard.  After several tries, and where best to set the hyperfocal distance when focusing, I got something.  I couldn’t quite achieve what I set out to, infinity and real close up still a bit out of focus,  but I got close.


Our dining room window is the perfect place for plants.  It gets tons of light and orchids seem to grow fantastically well.  This yellow Orchid was bought by my parents for my wife upon her graduation from teacher’s college.  Its on its 5th or 6th lot of flowers and is a very healthy plant.

I took this picture using my Nikon D700 and hand held up to the camera a Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f2.8 lens in M42 screw mount that I had bought for $3 at a camera flea market.  These Zeiss lenses are superb, and the colours are so rich and smooth, even at f2.8, and the sharpness is up there with any of the best lenses of today.  Not bad for a 45 year old lens that cost three bucks!

Welcome to Snapshot Voyager!

A very warm welcome to Snapshot Voyager!  As you’ll find out, it’s all about my discoveries as I voyage through the wonderful world of photography. 

My initial introduction to photography was from my father, a photography enthusiast since his teens.  However it wasn’t until my early-mid 20’s that I took up the interest.  My first camera that I could call my own was a Nikon F60 with a rather awful Tokina 28-210mm lens made by Cosina.  What it sparked was a constant fascination to try something different, and to embark on a voyage of  photography.  

Where will it take me?  Dunno, but I sure will have fun getting there!