Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Happy World Photography Day

August 20, 2011

This post is a bit camera nerdy. But there are pictures for those of you who don’t like to read.


Ahem…it’s after midnight and I’m getting a little slap-happy. Moving along!

Today is World Photography Day!

In honor of WPD I got myself a treat. Okay, it wasn’t because of WPD, it was because I had been thinking about getting a new lens. Well, there are three lenses that I have thought would be very cool to add to the camera bag:

  • The AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED: This one would let me take really good pictures of far away birds – $6300
  • The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED: This one would let me take really good close-up pictures of bugs and flowers. – just under $850.
  • The AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G: This one would let me take good portraits and decent low-light photos. –  $220

Guess which one I bought? Hint: It wasn’t the $6300 (ohmigod, that’s more than I spent on my current car!) or the $850 lens.

Yay – new lens!

I also picked up an expanded manual (i.e., a pretty picture book to teach me how to be as smart as my camera) and some new UV filters – one for the new lens and replacements for the other two lenses because the old ones were getting a bit smudged and scratched.  I almost broke down and bought a circular polarizer and a star filter, but I managed to pull myself back from the edge before I reached the checkout counter.

Because the new lens has a fixed focal length, it’s thought by some people to produce a clearer image than a zoom lens, and because it has a f/1.8 I should be able to take clearer pictures in lower light than my other two lenses (the lowest they have between them is a f/3.5).

I was a bit worried when I first took the lens out for a test drive this evening. I wasn’t seeing much of a difference in the preview screen between my standard 18-55mm lens and the new 50mm. And in the low-light I couldn’t figure out how to get the camera to actually shoot. But I eventually picked up on a few things:

  • If shooting with auto-focus in low light, it helped to keep the AF-assist flash on. Otherwise the camera had trouble finding its focus and wouldn’t shoot.
  • The camera is happy to let me shoot manually in low light. I think it’s the camera’s way of saying, “No prob, it’s on on you, bub.”
  • It’s really hard to shoot at night with the UV filter on the lens. I couldn’t figure out why I was getting a funny reflection in most of the shots in which there were stoplights, headlights or reflective surfaces:

I suspected that I was getting a reflection off of the lens back onto the UV filter (let me know if you can confirm that), and when I took the filter off, the flare-slash-reflection went away:

So, it’s going to take me a while to figure out the benefits of this particular lens. At the end of the night I was encouraged by this set of shots. The first was taken with my standard 18-55mm, and the second was taken with my new 50mm. This was a poorly-light corner outside of one of the local Walgreens.

18-55mm lens

50mm lens

I know – they look exactly the same here on the blog, but when you view the full, larger files (which you can do by clicking on the images) there is a subtle yet obvious difference between the two shots. The photo taken with the 50mm lens has better contrast, and the patterns in the wood are much more striking than those captured by the 18-55mm. I think this could pay off for printed photos and higher resolution online images.

And later in the evening I snapped this photo of Prada with the new lens:

I mean, the crap lighting is courtesy of the nearby fluorescent lighting in the kitchen, but the crispness of the image impressed me.

So we’ll see. I’ll do some more playing. I think that I’m going to like this new lens, but it remains to be seen if I’ll like it $220 worth of like.

Wisconsin Weekend and Photo Contest

August 18, 2011

A friend of mine invited me and the Hubby to spend this past weekend in Wisconsin with her and her family. They have a GORGEOUS  house on a quiet lake in the Northeast corner of the state. We went tubing, jet skiing, boat cruising around the lake and flying through the woods on an ATV. We played board games, had tasty adult drinks and ate incredible meals prepared by her mom (her mom bought all sorts of gluten-free goodies just for me, including brownies, spice cake and ciabatta rolls!). We packed a lot in over 30 hours. Oh, and we saw a frickin’ black bear as we were driving home!

Tubing on Crane Lake
Me tubing!

Photo Contest

I could use your help. I’m submitting three photos to a gallery at work (just a showing, not a contest) at one of our upcoming site-wide celebrations. I’ve picked out my top thirty favorite photos and placed them in a flickr set. If you have the time and the inclination, I’d love to have your help in narrowing it down to the three winners. Here’s how you can pipe up:

Oh, and did I mention that there is a contest associated with this? I love contests. If you vote you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a set of prints of your three favorite photos, even if they aren’t the three that I use for the gallery showing. I’ll chat printing options (size, finish, etc.) with the winner. 

Thanks for any votes, thoughts or advice!

Photos of PPFA Supporters

April 23, 2011

Yesterday I posted the story of my experience at the Good Friday  counter-protest that was held during the pro-life prayer vigil at Highland Park Planned Parenthood. Here are some of my favorite photos from yesterday, and here’s a big shout-out to everyone who took time on a Friday morning to show their support for men and women’s access to reproductive and sexual health.

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A Day in the Park

April 10, 2011

I visited my friend Ashley and her family yesterday. I met Ashley through a mentoring program, and even though that time has passed, we still chat online and get a chance to see each other now and then.

I took all of the photos here, except for the close-up of Ashley; she turned the camera on herself and captured an amazingly clear and centered self-portrait.

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30DaysofBiking: Day 5

April 6, 2011

Where: Two parts:

  1. Lynlake to SE Minneapolis via Lyndale Ave and Minnehaha bike path ~6.5 miles
  2. Later return trip via Cedar and 35th St (more lit at night than the bike path) ~5.8 miles

Why: Transportation – Hanging out with friends
When: Tuesday April 5th, late afternoon and night
Weather: Cool, Clear, 60F (15C) and 52F (11C)
Who: Me
Notes: Had to contend with traffic and gravel/sand on the sides of the streets

A quick stop for a snapshot along the Minnehaha bike path.

Night shot from the 35th Street Bridge over 35W, facing north toward downtown Minneapolis

30DaysofBiking: Day 4

April 4, 2011

Where: Lynlake Neighborhood ~0.4 miles
Why: Transportation – Dinner at Galactic Pizza
When: Monday April 4th, evening
Weather: Felt very cold, Clear, Windy 37F (2.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby


Fun with Focusing

March 26, 2011

I love the focusing freedom that the DSLR lenses give me!

The first photo is using autofocus.

I shot this next photo manually in order to override the camera’s focus on the foreground.

I would have liked to have the cat be a little less blurry, but I’m not sure how I could have maintained this angle and apparent distance *and* gotten them both in focus. Perhaps a wider lens? This was my 55-200mm lens and I was physically about 1-2 feet from the cat.  Maybe if I was further back and zoomed in with my 18-55mm lens?

Photog Complaint/Frustration: I’m having a hard time telling when my lens is focused when I’m in manual mode. When I’m wearing glasses it’s a balancing act to not push the glasses closer to my eyes when I have the camera up to my face. I haven’t been able to make the diopter work for me because at the farthest end of the dial, it’s STILL not strong enough for my poor eyesight (I did read the manual about optimizing the diopter and it sounds like I may be out of luck). If I’m wearing contacts focusing is better, but I don’t often wear my contacts unless I know I’m going to be out taking photos.  Any thoughts or suggestions about adjusting the diopter or focusing in general are appreciated.

Camera Lessons: Bunny Cleans Its Face

March 1, 2011

This morning I learned the basics on how to manually focus my camera. I used the speed shot setting and manual focus in an attempt to watch this bunny cleaning some snow off of his face. He was hidden underneath some dead bushes, but I found relatively clear spot through the branches from which to spy on him.

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My camera is a Nikon D3100 with the Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm VR lens (I was really wishing I had the 70-300mm to help get me through these branches). I was indoors, shooting through a window from about six feet away. Any tips or suggestions for improving next time’s shot are always welcome.

Weekend Photo Fun

February 22, 2011

I had some fun with my new camera this weekend. I took lots and lots and lots of photos, and then proceeded to erase lots and lots and lots of photos. I learned that my camera currently knows a hell of a lot more than I do, but I reckon to be fixin that right quick.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:

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I’m going to try Flickr out for sharing some of my photos. I’ve set up a Flickr widget in the Biodork blog sidebar to the right.  It will take you to my album if you want to see some of the wacky times I’m having. This will also provide an outlet for me to post my photos without driving you all batty.

First Photo

February 21, 2011

I dedicate my very first photo with the Nikon D3100 to Jana, my camera commiserating blog buddy. She takes magnificent photos as part of her blog Transatlantic Panorama and inspires me to see the world’s beauty in new ways.

After the camera was set up and the battery finally charged, my cat was the closest photo op I saw. I think she’s saying, “You have a nice camera now. Don’t disappoint Jana with a crappy picture.” Either that or, “Don’t think that I don’t know that you shorted me on wet food at dinner.”