Category Archives: Photography

Some things I’ve learned about dancing

Well, anyone could tell you that I’m not a dancer but I do, once a year, shoot the kids dance concert. I’ve done it two years in a row now and wanted to write down the things I’ve learned (twice now) so that I don’t need to re-learn them next year.

Firstly, when shooting, I was using four cameras (and had a friend also shooting). The order of the rehersal (I can only shoot the final dress rehersal) is different from the main show as they like to get the little kids home to bed earlier.

The show night program therefore is useless in working out what each photo was of. So, heres the new rules.

1. Syncronise all the clocks on all the cameras. that way all shots ordered by time taken will be of the same things.
2. Have a video camera shooting all of it (all 5+ hours) so that you can match the photos with the music and be able to put them in the correct categories. The video camera should also have the time code put on the screen and have it also synchronised.
This year, I had a pre-release copy of the show DVD’s available but the order made it difficult to match up. Also, during rehersal, there were some items repeated which was confusing looking at the photos.

The Lighting really sucked and was mostly too dark to shoot at fast enough speeds to make it blur free. I shot manual at about 1/500 on iso 1600 and tried to shoot at f2.8 for most of the single person shots and about 5.6 for group shots (to get some DOF back)

Also, as about 4000 photos were taken on the night, only JPG images were recorded to save time and space. of these about 3200 were available to the parents etc so thats quite a good ‘keeper’ percentage.

This year was also the first year that I wandered around on stage to shoot. I was waiting to be told to get off as I was in the way but it didn’t happen. It also allowed me to get some better angles I think.

Anyway, as always, this post is more for me to read next year rather than for others to get much benefit from but I hope you enjoyed it :-)

heres a small selection of shots that I liked for some reason or other.

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Everybody’s doin’ it

When I discovered HDR photos, I thought it was quite exciting until I discovered everyone had already done it and I was, as usual, the last to find out about it. Well, its happened again with Tilt-Shift (or fake tilt shift as I cannot affort a tilt-shift lens) and miniature faking.

I have had some fun going back through old photos and giving them the treatment so heres my first few I’ve done. I quite like the effect but will try to avoid the ‘when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ approach and restrict it to things that will suit better in future.

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Whats in the stable at the moment (camera stuff)

I have been asked repeadly what camera stuff I use. Heres a reasonably complete list with comments. This is why I don’t change to shoot canon. Also, I believe Nikon offers better equipment.

LENSES

80–400mm VR
This offers great reach, especially when used with the D300 DX sensor

50mm 1.4
Great fast lens for some portraits etc. Its a little wide on the D3’s FX sensor.

85mm 1.8
This is great for shooting shows, kids dance concerts etc

70–200 VR 2.8 (my favourite lens)
This is fantastic. Its sharp and on the FX sensor, is even better for basketball and similar tasks

10.5mm 2.8 DX
AS this is a DX lens, its really only good for the D300 but the 14–24 2.8 is good enough on the FX

12–24 f4 (DX)
Fantastic lens. Mostly kept on the D200 for underwarter work (with the aquatica housing)

14–24 2.8 (non DX)
This lens is so sharp its amazing. suits the FX sensor perfectly.

105mm Macro (2.8)
Great macro lens

105mm Macro 2.8 (VR)
I bought this to replace the above but it goes to f3.5 with focus distance changes. really strange.

60mm Macro
Great portraid lens (also used in housing on D200 for underwater shots)

18–200VR DX
Fantastic holiday lens (when you only want to take 1 with you) but being DX its not much good on the D3

TC14 and TC20
Both work well with the 70–200 but I havent used them since the 80–400 arrived

LIGHTING AND STUDIO

4 x SB800 (with 2 x SD8A’s) and SBR200 + SU-800 for macro work
Great for playing around or for a really portable studio effect.

6 Studio flashes, 2 high power daylight fluro banks all with softboxes, reflectors, backdrops etc

Misc transmitters, Brackets, Tripods, Monopods etc.

CAMERAS

D2x, D200, D300 ,D3 and 2 x D100’s

My little studio

Recently its had some more use. I often get called out to shoot other peoples families etc but rarely get to shoot mine. I had the studio setup for a co-workers family shoot and decided to bring my family in the next morning.

I got some shots. They are not fantastic but I like them (probably because I know the people in them)

They were also shot on the last day I used the D2X (the D3 arrived the next morning)

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Family Portrait (self portrait)

This was a self portrait (the remote is behind Christy’s back). These were shot with 2 large softboxes.

 

Nikon D3

I received my nikon D3 the other day and have been playing with the settings. Firstly, ISO 6400 is fantastic (although seems to have more noise than some reviews indicated). Its about what I was getting with ISO 1600 (HI1) on my D2X from what I can tell so far.

Also, the 70–200mm 2.8 (my favourite lens) is now a better lens for more portraits etc. Ill have to go to the 80–400 (3.5–5.6) for more reach now but at higher ISO settings, the speed will not upset me too much. I would love a 500mm 2.8 but at $10,000 its a little too much to justify.

Anyway, Ill have some photos to post shortly. I will be shooting the basketball tomorrow in Sydney (I don’t yet know if the Hawks will get any photos yet) just to test the camera out. Hopefully the Higher ISO values, FX sensor, faster frame rate, 2 CF slots and dynamic 3D focussing should help me get some keepers.