Welcome to my ramblings on photography, subjects related to photography, the business of photography, photo journalism and on being a photo editor.

New Nikon D5 and D500 First use

August 21, 2016  •  1 Comment

Yesterday was the first real test of my new Nikon cameras, the D5 and D500. As I have said to anyone dumb enough to ask me what I think of the D5...it is, without a doubt, the best camera I have ever used. (I go on and on about how much I love it...I know they wish they never asked) Yesterday shooting a game with it just reinforced that opinion.

The D500 took me a while to warm up to. Out of the box the AF was off, first camera I have ever owned like this, and the files looked horrible. After taking the time to tweak the AF everything looks great. The hype was that it was a min D5, just as good but cheaper...having owned a D5 first this set me up for disappointment. Not saying the D500 is not good, but better than a 6500 dollar camera it ain't. I guess for most people it would seem to be as good, but for someone who pushes the limits of a camera hard, it ain't. Those seeming little differences do make a difference. The high ISO, while very good, is not as good as the D5. Ok anyway, keeping in mind he D5 is a bit better, the D500 is still a stellar camera. Its AF is amazing, I'd say better than my D4s, and maybe as good as the D5. I used it on my 200-400 and very few frames were out of focus yesterday. This is a nice step up from last season when I used a D810 in DX crop mode on the 200-400. The viewfinder is great. The way the camera feels and handles is on par with a full on pro camera. No cheap plasticy feel like I got used to on Canon cameras that were not "1" series.

Exposure on both cameras seemed better than what I was getting on my D4s and D810. I usually set the cameras to the shutter and aperture I want and set ISO to auto ISO. Yesterday it went from rain to sun to cloudy a lot. All exposures were the same. No bouncing around. I set the exposure to +1/3 and the shots were bang on. Last year my cameras had a really hard time on cloudy days with the auto metering and I had to fall back to full on manual...never did understand why on cloudy days the meter in the cameras was under exposing by about a stop...cloudy days are more even so it seems to me the exposure should have been more accurate.

My conclusion. If you shoot Nikon and want the best they have to offer you will be happy with either of these bodies, they both are stellar, with the D5 being more stellar by a small bit that, in reality, probably only a sports photographer will notice.

Here are a few photos from the game.

Tajae Sharpe082016-0023Tajae Sharpe082016-0023Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
Bene Benwikere082016-0028Bene Benwikere082016-0028Carolina Panthers cornerback Bene' Benwikere (25) face masked by Tennessee Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson (81) after intercepting a pass during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
cheerleaders082016-0052cheerleaders082016-0052Tennessee Titans cheerleaders during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
Cam Newton082016-0058Cam Newton082016-0058Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
DeMarco Murray082016-0037DeMarco Murray082016-0037Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
Tajae Sharpe082016-0048Tajae Sharpe082016-0048Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports
Tajae Sharpe082016-0021Tajae Sharpe082016-0021Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) during the Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans pre-season football game in Nashville, Tennessee August 20, 2016.
Harrison McClary/Athlon Sports


Black and White conversion process

April 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

A few thoughts on B&W in the age of digital: In 1987 my first job working at a newspaper as a staff photographer all I shot was Kodak Tri-X developed in HC110, or UFG. I grew to love this look of B&W, a bit contrasty and with some grain.

 

With digital photography I have tried many ways of getting B&W that I like. In some instances I get the look I am going for at other times it falls short. After much experimenting I came up with a simple way of getting a good conversion that I feel, in most cases, gives me the look I like. I wanted something that, after correcting the file in color, I could just run and most of the time get a good B&W image. A normal MODE-GRAYSCALE conversion often is way to flat. In times past I used third party plug ins and often they worked well, and sometimes not.

 

This is my  process:


First I adjust the photo in color so that it is properly adjusted.

I then go to the filter gallery (Photoshop CC) and select:

Texture then Grain

I set the Intensity to 10, Contrast to 62, and type to Regular.

This adds the grain look, and also boosts the contrast enough that when I convert to B&W in the next step it usually looks really good, to me at least.

The next step is to go to Image - Adjustments: Black & White and convert at the default setting. This usually gives me a conversion that I really like.

I find this process usually works very well.


Digital has no costs?

April 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

In this age of digital photography I often hear people say something along the lines of “Since it is digital I have no costs like in the days of film.”  All I can assume is that those who say this must also play the lottery regularly, as it is a tax on people who are bad at math.

In the days of film most photographers I know shot with two Canon EOS 1n bodies.  They paid somewhere in the vicinity of $1300.00 for the body with booster, if I remember correctly.  That was Canon’s top line body, the best they made and in my opinion the most rugged camera I ever used.  One could use this camera till it wore out, no need for an upgrade because the new version was “better”.  Those upgrades really had no impact on image quality.  We had a light table to edit slides on, cost about $150.00 no software required.  We billed all film, processing, slide pages and shipping to clients.

Today in the age of Digital the same top of the line Canon costs from $5,000 for the 1DIV to almost $8,000 for the 1DsIII (cost when released, not now at the end of its run).  Instead of a light table we have top end Mac’s running the full suite of Adobe software, usually a desktop tower and a notebook for location work.  That is thousands and thousands more than a trusty light table, a device that did not require costly yearly “updates”.

Instead of FED-EX we use high speed internet connections to deliver images, and have to be able to do this reliably from the road as well as at home.  Therefore, we have high speed DSL at home and a mifi card for the road.  Each month that is usually more than we used to pay for all FED-EX shipping combined.

Instead of archiving images in boxes or file cabinets we need large redundant hard drives that can be searched to find old images when clients need them.

In hard equipment costs alone the digital era costs about $17,400 more than in film.  That is just camera and computer expenses.  If I add in the cost of the software that is another $2000.00 at least. Then the internet connections are around $150.00 per month.

This does not even get into software updates, hard drives and memory cards.  All are additional expenses we as photographers incur.

Lets not forget that the “life” of our cameras is also greatly reduced as often the new versions do produce better images than the previous version.  You may be able to skip one iteration, but not two.

So after taking all this into consideration how does digital not cost anything?


Film Unpredictable?!?

April 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Over the past year or so I have run across several blogs of current “photographers” who seem to believe it is not possible, or that it is hard, or unusual to produce good work using…gasp….FILM!!

Here is a quote from one such blog: “I stumbled across the website for XXXX XXXX. He was producing beautiful work and doing it entirely on film. This is possible, I thought.”

This is possible? I seriously wonder do these people think photography just began with a digital camera?

Here is yet another quote from a different blog: “I don’t mind film for unpredictable results when creating personal artwork or on the side as an added bonus, but it has reminded me that I will not rely on it for a client who is paying for consistent and reliable results. I will not put my clients in a situation in which my choice to use film has resulted in a lack of coverage or an undesirable outcome.”

Unpredictable results? Lack of coverage?

I am sorry, but all these previous posts point out is that there are a lot of people out there selling themselves as photographers who have NO CONCEPT of the craft of photography.

Digital is a new addition to the world of professional photography. For all you who think film is unpredictable and not worthy of using on a paying gig…get a bloody clue. We were shooting film in every circumstance you can possibly imagine and were delivering quality images that were as good as or better than what is delivered from most people using a digital camera today.

In my opinion all these blog posters showed was their lack of understanding of the craft of photography. To be a true professional and master of the craft of photography it really should not matter what kind of camera you use, it is just a tool. You should understand light, how your camera captures that light, how your recording media records that light.

In the days of shooting slide film (chromes) most photographers settled on one type of film and knew exactly how it would respond. I know whenever I shot a different kind of film I did tests to find that films true ISO, to see how it pushed or pulled, to see how it worked recording “magic hour” light and so on. To not do this was asking for trouble. Nothing like grabbing a box of Velvia that Fuji said was an ISO 50 film and shooting it at that only to learn it worked far better rated at ISO 32.

I will say this, if a photographer says they can not get consistent and reliable results with film then I’d be willing to bet that you are looking at a photographer who uses Photoshop to fix their lack of ability. They are not getting consistent and reliable results in digital either.

With film, in particular chromes, you either get it right or you don’t. Film is more of a test of your abilities than digital is, it is a final, complete, one frame at a time test.


The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. – Dorthea Lange

April 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Dorthea Lange spoke volumes with those few words. As photographers we use our cameras to single out and select moments in time, or details most people walk by, never noticing. We record these moments and show them to an oblivious public. Viewers are forced to notice these details simply by the act of seeing our images.

As photographers we notice the way light reflects off a building facade, or a person’s face. We see those fleeting expressions that speak to our shared humanity.

When I was first entering the world of photojournalism I was fortunate enough to do my internship at the now closed Chattanooga Times. While there I spent many days riding with Billy Weeks. He taught me how to look at the world, and to notice small things. To constantly be looking at things and thinking “If such and such were there it would make a photo”. As you do this more and more often you begin to see great photos all around you.

Too often we walk by a very interesting scene and never “see” it. Photography forces us to open our eyes and see that which we normally pass by in the rush of daily life.

Often, to see a good photo, all one has to do is be still, listen and observe. If you do this suddenly you begin to see all kinds of neat things going on in the world around you. You see the way a leaf lies on the rocks, contrasting with the cold stone, or the way the reflection of a person and a street scape in a water puddle make an interesting composition. To see the special way people interact, that fleeting smile, glance or kiss. Think of Alfred Eisenstaedt ‘s photo of the kiss that celebrated VJ day. An iconic image of joy if ever there was one. A fleeting moment many would have walked by and never seen, but because he caught it on film it is now part of our shared memories.

By seeing these things and recording them to show to others we are opening the eyes of people who, in their normal rush to work, never notice them. We help people who rush by the unseen beauty of the world remember that beauty is there for the seeing.

We show that one does not have to go to exotic places to see exotic things.

Next time you use your camera remember that you are showing the world how to see. How to stop, relax and to notice the unseen world that is life.


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