Monday, September 5, 2011

Equipment challenges

Cell phone picture of the old lens on the new body.  I used the vignette app, set to "holga"-- which is so much easier than actually taking a picture with a Holga.
I have been struggling for the past few years to find ways to make yummy digital images-- after years and years of bending a motley collection of film cameras to my will. Last year Dutch bought me a nice entry-level Nikon that I have been fairly pleased with, although the learning curve was longer than I expected.  I was a bit disappointed with the lens that came with it. I value speed* over anything else (mostly because I don't like the look of flash photography) and the kit lens was slow, and would go even slower if the zoom was used. On the plus side, the auto-settings made the point and shoot mode foolproof. This morning I finally got around to putting Grandpa E's vintage 1982 50mm Nikkormat lens on the digital body. I had to consult my D3000 for Dummies book for all the details.  LuLu really wanted to help and to stick her fingers in everything. I had to bounce her off the bed.  Miraculously, I got it on without breaking anything (I had a vivid nightmare recently about switching these very lenses-- when I tried to do it all the pieces fell out!). And while the old lens takes the whole camera back to another era of technology (no auto focus, a very crude light sensor, manual aperture and shutter settings) it brings back a pre-digital feature I love-- instant shutter button to shutter curtain action. I have missed so many beautiful shots because of the digital delay (when I press the shutter button, the camera has to make adjustments, and think about things, perhaps it needs to go potty, or change the oil, and when it's ready, it opens the shutter, all the while the light has changed, the expression on the baby's face is different, perhaps the child is even in a different state by then, and voila, a different photo is taken than the one I had originally envisioned).  Now, it will take me five minutes to set up the shot but I get to make the adjustments, I go potty, I change the damn oil and I decide when the shutter fires.

*speed, in regards to lenses, is how quickly light gets through them.  The faster the lens, the less light that is required for a good shot.  Zooming-in cuts down on the light going through a lens.

Some nice pictures taken with the D3000 kit lens.

I like both of these pics, I used the widest angle setting (no zoom), and the point-and-shoot mode.  I had to take a lot of pictures to get these, because I couldn't quite get the shutter to open at the exact right moment.  Looking at the upper picture I am shocked by how much lens distortion there is.  

I took these two photos yesterday while I was playing with the 50 mm lens.  I took a lot of photos I liked.  I especially like the shallow depth of field with the top one.  I can tell precisely where I focused the lens (note to self, wear your glasses, otherwise every photo will be blurry).  I had the aperture opened to the biggest hole-size (smallest number, go figure).  I still need to get a bit better at picking the correct exposure, but small tweaks like that are easily done with software.  I adjusted the curves on the top one to make it a bit lighter.

If my explanations made no sense, check out this page here for a nice explanation of "depth of field" and here for an explanation about lenses and apertures.

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