Bursting Balloons !

Bursting Balloons !
click on image for more

Friday, April 30, 2010

air rifle

Tonight I tried another option for my sound activated flash trigger ....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday night water balloons

Tonight I filled some balloons with water , placed them on a mirror and shot them - carefully !
I missed the first few in fear of hitting the mirror ....

Then it got better .....

There was a red gel on the right hand flash and a blue on the left - the colour didn't show much ?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shooting balloons again !

Since the days are getting shorter I decided to pull out the sound activated flash trigger again , and this time I added a mirror to see things from a different angle .

Next step , add water and flash gels .

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flash : SU4 wireless trigger working distance

I recently bought a used Nikon SB26 in very good condition . I decided to test out the "SU4" mode on my SB800 compared to the built in flash trigger on the SB26 .
With the SB800 it uses the sensor on the side , next to the battery compartment , to act as a trigger when another flash is fired while the SB26 has a separate flash trigger 'eye'

I set them up facing away from each other and made sure they couldn't trigger each other .
I had another SB800 on my D50 and it was set to 1/128th power in manual mode so I had the weakest possible flash output .
I tried one reasonably close [ about 8-10 metres ] .
They were both set at 1/16th power .

With the lens fixed at 50mm I moved back and they both triggered ok at this distance .

I moved back a bit more until only the SB800 triggered .

Then I moved forward to where they would both trigger ....

At this stage the sun popped out from behind a cloud and only the SB26 triggered - I hadn't changed my distance .

Since I was using the D50 which has the advantage of an electronic sensor/shutter and can synch flash at any speed using 'realsynch' flash I did some extreme shutter speed tests . I mounted the old SB24 and set it at its minimum power of 1/16th and tried at faster shutter speeds .

From what I've seen so far neither system is superior in all ways . The SB26 seemed to handle sunlight better than the SB800 but the SB800 triggered at a greater distance in the shade .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Depth of field and exposure "virtual camera"

On a discussion about this blog on photocamel.com I was referred to an interesting site where you can play with the settings of a virtual camera and see the results on an image on the screen .
Until I do some decent sample images I think that is a very good place to start .

The Mirror shot " Blood: 'sweat and tears' "

I've been playing around with ideas to add to a well known image .
Since I never had anyone to model for me initially I had to set everything up and try to look down the lens with the mirror and hope for the best .
First you set the camera to manual mode , iso 200 , 1/200th [ max flash synch mode for the D90] and then dial in aperture until it shows "-2" on the meter .
The light kept changing so I was at F18 for a while , then the sun went behind the clouds and I was down to F9 , then things got bright again and I had to move to f22 ... with clouds you have to keep checking where the ambient is sitting according to the meter and make adjustments .

Of course I kept the image of my face small until I could find a better looking model ;)

Jessica is from Canada , on a working holiday in New Zealand . She also has a Nikon D90 and helped out with my last wedding . She wants to be a traveling photographer one day .

She agreed to help me after work on Sunday afternoon and I think we got some good shots .
None of these images have had any photoshop work done on them , I prefer to be able to say they are straight out of the camera . [ one or two were cropped ] .

Occasionally you get a lucky accident in the background .

Jessica suggested most of the variations [ luckily]

Then there's my twist on the image . I wanted something different and while I was thinking about the prospect of someone getting their hand cut on the sharp edges [ I had put glue on the edges for safety ] , I realized that the blood could possibly look like 'sweat' and if it dripped in the right place 'tears' so after shopping around for the right colour paint I came up with 
"Blood: ' Sweat' and 'Tears' " .
[Update: Nobody on the forums really liked these images with 'blood' in them so it was a bit of a learning experience - I got a little carried away with the concept without actually thinking about what other people might think of the final images ]

Then there were one or two others that were interesting like "Turtle-neck" [ Update : This was the unanimous favourite on 7 different forums ]
And Jessica also suggested we do a 'photographer' shot as well ....
It's not easy , having the paint in the right place , and the lighting , getting the model to line it all up properly , hold it there and get the right facial expression all at the same time - something to work on next time I suppose ! 
We actually ended up with better contrast with the ambient at -2.3 .[ update , even though ''-2.3'' looked good on the camera screen and the computer it printed out way too dark - next time I won't go below -1.7 for the background ]

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blood: " Sweat and Tears"

I'm pretty happy with these results so far - I'll put up a blog on how to do it when I get time later :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Focal length comparisons

I recently read a beginners question regarding focal length and decided to put together a few comparisons for future reference .
Taken with my D50 and the 18-200mm VR lens

Attempting the 'mirror shot'

I'm in the process of trying to get a decent 'mirror shot' as on the cover of "The moment it clicks" , I don't normally like copying other people's work but thought this was a cool dea and would like to know how to do it . I started off with my 'brolly box' set up facing toward the camera as I don't have anyone to model for me so have to put up with my own face in the picture .
 Then I had to hold the mirror and angle it to look down the camera lens , which is not as easy as it sounds , to get the correct 'line' - and push the shutter release .
I had bought a small oval mirror in a dinky plastic frame just to get the technique right before getting a mirror with some more 'character' . 
I underexposed the background by around two stops and ended up with iso 200 , 1/200th sec and F20 which greatly reduced the distance the flash could work at , especially since it was also being diffused quite a bit by the umbrella .
The initial results aren't half  bad and have left me with the task of finding a better looking 'subject' to model for me and then I can also 'safely' get a closer crop of the face .

 I really don't like using photoshop but allowed myself to clone out a part of the picture for a different effect .

Now that I'm reasonably comfortable with the concept I am searching for a 'volunteer' for the right weather conditions . 
On the weekend I bought a cheap used mirror and smashed it to get some decent shapes for the contrast between soft skin and sharp glass .

I've put some glue around the edges of the pieces I like so it will be safer to hold and hopefully a decent subject will present 'herself' soon :) .


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cheap filters and Bokeh .

The following has been copied from an article by Larry "fishbio" from nikoncafe .

Hi All
I bought a 2nd hand 300mm f4 AFS last summer to use with a PN-11 for dragonflies and the like. I used it and wondered what all the fuss was about. In fact I thought the image quality was terrible and blamed bad technique. I noticed some weird bokeh in a shot I took of some branches while checking it out and eventually took off the filter (Optex UV) and tried again - what a difference.
I finally got around to doing a controlled test today. Below are comparison shots of some distant branches and a closeup of a soon-to-be-emerging Bracken fern. Branches were taken at f4, fern at f5.
I've noticed similar Bokeh in 300 f4 AFS shots posted here by others. I wonder if this lens in particular doesn't like filters. At some point I'll try this particular filter on another lens to see what happens.
Live and learn
Larry de March .

Left image without filter , right image with [cheap] filter :
{ For those of you who have contacted me and told me the images are no good because they are 'out of focus' please look up the word "Bokeh" ;) }

The issue has been brought up that these defects would be more likely to show up with longer lenses - perhaps why my test at the bottom of this page with my 18-55 lens and a cheap filter didn't show any defects . 

Submitted by John "Pewter Camaro" of Nikon cafe : 
I recently got a 180 2.8 that had a 72mm Tiffen UV filter on the on it. I don't believe in them so I took it off and haven't thought about since but I broke it out and took a test shot after reading this thread. results are subtle but are there..

.        No filter :                                         With filter :

Lens flare test :
I really didn't think it would be this dramatic or this easy to test but here are the results.
Exif Data is included.. This is a D90 180mm 2.8 wide open (hence the purple fringing), same settings on both, on a tripod, shutter triggered with the remote. Lens Hood is NOT extended. Flashlight is an LED light with the reflector removed. no PP except a resize and same sharpening on both.

No filter :

With filter added :

Added courtesy of "intruder61" of nikoncafe 
Happy with my Tamron 18-270VC for a walk around lens, I picked up a Cokin filter for it.
after taking some pics at a private function and having put the filter on for the first time I noticed my focus was out . (anybody had this problem?)
So I took 2 pics, one with, one without, on tripod, same settings, at the extreme, at 270mm, 1/6 sec f6.3, no PP, just cropped.

Submitted by Bert "Newbert" Hoenigmann of nikoncafe 10/04/2010
UV filters came off of my lenses when I discovered the problem illustrated by these images one evening. This was my first real attempt at shooting the moon with my 70-300VR lens (on tripod) and I couldn't understand why the results I was getting were so soft.
I decided to remove the cheap UV filter (I think it was a Promaster) and the improvement was startling. Note: Although the exposure settings aren't exactly the same, they are close enough to illustrate the problem caused by use of the filter. Both are converted NEF's straight from the camera, but cropped to enlarge the subject (the moon).

The question was raised as to whether the filter was simply affecting the auto-focus ? Whatever , it was causing soft images somehow and had to come off .

The conversation that ensued resulted in someone providing this link to some tests on supposedly good quality filters done by lenstip.com which includes 24 different filters , it's a useful read especially if you want to find a decent filter after reading this article .

So the argument has often been whether to use a filter or not .
Some state that it doesn't make sense to put a $20 filter in front of a $1000 lens but of course a flat piece of glass is easier to make than all the complicated parts of a lens .
The argument brought up in that discussion is that if you buy a decent $100 filter for your $1000 lens , and break down the components of the lens and work out how much it cost to make each component , that $100 flat piece of glass you just bought is relatively more expensive than your lens !

So if you choose to use a filter [ as I do , mainly to prevent the glass getting scratched ] , just make sure you get something decent if you want decent image quality .

Here are some more tests

9:00 pm , 9/April/2010 : Well I just fitted my new "$7" cheap filter that doesn't even have a name on it , just " 52mm UV " . 
I'll do some more tests under different circumstances this weekend but for now I see no difference .

And a side-by-side 100% crop .

Perhaps I will see some faults with an out-of-focus background , for now though my main reason for using filters is to protect the front element from scratches and maintain the resale value of my lenses [ " This lens has had a filter on since new " certainly increases the resale value of a lens ] . 
The matter has been brought up on the discussions that I will probably not see any issues with an 18-55 lens , more likely with a longer lens so perhaps this little 'filter scare' is more for those shooting with tele lenses .

Saturday 10/April/2010 .
I decided to do some tests with my Nikon 70-200VR lens and the "no name brand" "77mm UV" filter that was on it .
In most of the tests I couldn't see a difference except , as with the first images on this page , with regard to the out of focus 'bokeh'  in the background - the images themselves never looked much different to me .....

The real difference shows up when we take a 100% crop from the top right corner of both images and place them side-by-side .
Please note : 'VR' was turned off since it has been suggested that this can also cause similar issues .

Now you could say there is a huge difference when you are looking close up . My conclusion ? If I were shooting images for a billboard ad or perhaps a magazine cover I would take the filter off now that I know the difference it could make when viewed close up .
But the fact is that I am not doing paid work with the lens , at normal print sizes I personally wouldn't notice the difference and I'm still learning photography - the chance of damaging the front element of a lens that cost me one month's pay is enough to encourage me to leave that cheap filter on there , until maybe I buy a better quality filter . 

Something else to think about in your decision , on nikongear.com it was mentioned that most insurance claims regarding the front element of a lens are due to the glass getting scratched .... by a shattered filter ! . So if you drop your lens with the filter on there is that possibility that the filter causes damage that wouldn't have happened otherwise :) .  

Opinions vary , all I'm doing is showing what could go wrong with some filters and lenses , I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should do - the ball is in your court now .

16 April 2010 : I received my new " Hoya Pro1 " lens protector [ not UV ] filter and did some tests with it to compare it with the old filter and with no filter .

There's a definite difference with the cheap filter . The difference with no-filter and the Hoya is slightly noticeable when compared side by side but I doubt I could tell them apart in individual pictures . I also lost 1/3 of a stop of exposure with each filter on the lens , I took three pictures with each filter and with no filter , 9 in all and the results were consistent .

2June 2010 - images supplied by "Robert S" of Nikoncafe ...
With a Calumet UV filter - not exactly cheap :

Without filter :

See also "Linear vs Circular polarizers" [other site ] for a discussion on possible auto-focus errors .

Here is an article with some "drop tests"