A post with something for everyone

Bella with Pop in backgroundIt’s not often a single post can appeal to a range of different interests – but this one really hits the mark. It’s a picture of the dogs in our front yard but it offers so much more.

For dogs lovers it’s Bella taking some time out from patrolling the front gate with Poppie still on guard in the background. She’s wondering why I’m lying full length on the grass – hence the quizzical look.

For gardeners it’s a study in lawns – check out that lush green growth clipped to perfection and standing to attention – defying a hot and dry Wellington summer’s afternoon which is arguably one of the best summers anyone can remember.

For photographers the shot was achieved with the camera flat on the grass and was one of about 30 shots taken as the girls wandered around.

The camera used was my Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 18 – 70mm zoom lens set to 50mm, the aperture at F9 to keep Bella in focus and to throw Poppie slightly out of focus, and the  shutter speed at 125th of a second to freeze any rapid movement. In Photoshop I replaced the original image of Poppie with one from another shot so she was looking up, cropped the shot using the rule of thirds (Bella’s head is about 1/3 of the way down the shot and 1/3 of the way in from the right), removed the distracting bright round hole in the gate, sharpened around Bella’s face and generally corrected the colour. Simple.

I’ve included the original shot for comparison.


A post for geeks

Tech DisplayIn the old days the only technology we took on holiday was a still camera and maybe a video camera. These days that’s all changed and our bags are full of various bits of tech.

This trip we tried to minimise what we took but still ended up with a fair collection of things – as can be seen in the photo. The only piece of technology not shown is the camera I took this shot with – a Nikon D7000 with a 50mm 1.8 fixed lens.

Clockwise from top left – Sunpak PZ42X flash gun, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, Nikon 18-70mm zoom Lens, Pebble smart watch, WD 500GB portable hard drive, Transcend multi card reader, MacBook Air – 11.6 inch, iPad, JBL Charge bluetooth portable speaker, 2 x iPhone 4S, TomTom GPS, Apple mouse, Sony T500 camera, Nikon 70-300mm zoom Lens and 3 iPad and iPhone chargers. Not included are all the cables that connect this stuff together and various charges for camera batteries.

Nothing like travelling light I say.



In praise of fixed focal length lenses

From the headline you can tell this post is going to be a bit geeky. And if you’re not interested in photography, it could be boring as well. Be warned.

A few weeks ago I purchased my first ever fixed focal length lens. It was a AF Nikkor 50mm 1.8D which is a lens Nikon have been making for the best part of 10 years in one guise or another.

It cost me the princely sum of $85 as it was second hand but in “near new” condition. The previous owner had his Nikon camera stolen a week after buying the lens. He didn’t replace the camera so the lens had been used only once. (No seriously, I believe what people write about stuff on Trade Me.)

Up until now I’ve always been a zoom lens guy. I love the flexibility of a good zoom lens and the ability to frame things as I like without having to rush towards or away from the subject. In fact I didn’t really see the need for a fixed length lens at all.

Recently I was watching the excellent video blog The Art of Photography and the host was extolling the sharpness of prime lenses and the discipline required to use them. The need to move around to frame the subject – sometimes to get in close and sometimes to back off.

And now after a few weeks with the 50mm lense I’m sold. The sharpness of this cheap little lens is amazing. The ability to accurately control depth of field is amazing and the 1.8 f-stop means photos can be taken in low light without any risk of the dreaded camera shake or resorting to flash.

If you don’t have a prime 50mm or 35mm lens in your camera bag, trust me, get one.