Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nikon D750 available light ISO 12800, 25600 & 51200 @ Wedding

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 51200, ƒ/4.5, 1/100
I attended a wedding for a friend yesterday as a guest. I thought I would make some photos and give those to the bride and groom from the day. I stayed out of the way of the hired photographers and just shot photos that I saw.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/50
Now the service took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Buckhead in Atlanta, GA. The room for the wedding was pretty dark. I used the ExpoDisc to get a custom white balance and then the settings on the camera were ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6 @ 1/50.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/60
After the service we moved to the hallway between the two rooms they had reserved for the wedding and the reception for a formal receiving line. The light here was about the same at the wedding. Now the canned spotlights in the ceiling occasionally would make the quality of the light suffer and sometimes help. Here with the bridesmaids wasn't thrilled with the hot light in the background.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ5.6, 1/40
Sometimes the light was just fine on the subjects faces as my wife and the parents of the bride for this photograph.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.3, 1/15
I took just a few photos of the bride and groom on their first dance when I just realized the AUTO ISO that I had set up to peak at ISO 12800 was just not going to cut it. I also realized when shooting at 1/15 shutter speed that raising this one ƒ-stop wasn't enough. Thankfully the Nikon D750 let me raise the ISO to 51200.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6 1/60
The cool thing is while the ISO 51200 noise is noticeable this is far superior to the film days when you shot above ISO 800.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/60
What I did notice at the highest ISO the noise is in the shadows and there you could see the grid pattern of the pixels.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 28735, ƒ/3.8, 1/80
 Since I had the camera's ISO set on AUTO the lower ISO of 28735 was picked when this couple asked for their photo. There was a carving station to my back and I intentionally put the couple there to take advantage of the extra light in that dark room.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 32254, ƒ/3.8, 1/80
Then another couple joined them and they stepped back just a bit and this raised the ISO 32254 and I was able to get another acceptable photo without using flash.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 51200, ƒ/4.5, 1/100
 Then when my wife asked for a photo with some friends, I knew that the lack of that carving station behind me and the stage behind them wasn't the best lighting. I took a photo first and looked and decided for the first time that day to use the pop up flash on slow shutter speed.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 28735, ƒ/4.5, 1/100
Notice how the noise almost disappears with the added flash. The camera only dropped the ISO less than a stop.

You would think that I could have done this all night, but remember I am not the official photographer. I am not wanting to go around flashing and drawing more attention to myself than I was doing already.

I think the ISO 51200 on the Nikon D750 is great when you need to have a high ISO in that range. You will be able to get photos that you wouldn't be able to do without.

I would say noise wasn't just due to high ISO, but rather to the quality of the light and the dynamic range of that light. The flash illustrated that the noise disappears when used at high ISO.

The direction of the light has more to do with the noise than just high ISO.

By the way–throughout the wedding I was posting these photos to social media. The Nikon App on my Android phone let me sync using the Wi-Fi on the Nikon D750.

I was shooting just RAW files, so the app would create a smaller JPEG that was big enough for Social Media as the recommended size to transfer to the phone.

The guests were enjoying seeing photos just a couple minutes after I shot them up on Facebook. I would tag the bride and all her friends could then see the photos.

When I tried to set the custom white balance it appeared what I would do for the Nikon D4 wasn't working with the Nikon D750. Well I had also put the Nikon Manual Viewer App on my phone. It has the Nikon D750 manual and the Nikon D4 manual. You can search and find whatever you need.

The searching makes this even easier to use than the printed manual in my opinion.

I typed in White Balance and found the instructions. I was doing everything just as it recommended, but the blinking pre was only viewable on the top LCD closest to the shutter release and not showing blinking on the big LCD on the back.

Tips Summary:

  • Use AUTO ISO. I keep it maxed to ISO 12800, but if needed then adjust it to 25600 or even 51200
  • Use ExpoDisc for custom white balance.
  • Use Slow Sync Flash–To avoid background going completely black when using flash
  • Watch light direction–Move people to take advantage of the existing light on their faces.
  • Carry the camera manual on your smartphone
  • Use Wi-Fi and Camera App to post photos to social media as you are shooting.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Nikon D750 vs Nikon D4 @ ISO 100 and ISO 12800

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200–Studio Strobes

100% view of the above photo
I decided to just shoot some known variables and compare the Nikon D750 to my Nikon D4. The reason is this is what I own. The first two photos are from the Nikon D750. One is full frame and the other 100% view.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200–Studio Strobes

The first thing I was reminded of is the 100% view is much looser than the Nikon D750 as compared to the D4. The reason is the Nikon D750 24 megapixel comparing to the Nikon D4 16 megapixel chip.

I would say from my perspective that the Nikon D750 at ISO 100 is a much cleaner and better resolution file. To me this is significant to note. Most all cameras at the lowest ISOs tend to be very similar in quality. However, I am noticing a difference in the low ISO.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/9, 1/200–Available light

Keeping the camera on a tripod I didn't use the studio strobes and even turned them off and used the ambient room light to shoot these at ISO 12800. Compare this to the Nikon D4 photos below.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/9, 1/200–Available light

For me there is a little difference between the two at ISO 12800, but the difference is about $3,800 with the Nikon D4 price that I paid being about $6,000.

I would say from just these charts that the Nikon D750 will do as well if not better than my Nikon D4 in low light situations.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200–Studio Strobes

I wanted to then compare something more like what I might shoot and this little soldier we have I use a lot for just these type of comparisons.  What impressed me the most is how smooth the pixels appear with the Nikon D750.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/11, 1/200–Studio Strobes

When it comes to real world shooting I believe the only major difference between the D750 and D4 at a low ISO is the resolution difference of 24MP vs 16MP. So for the majority uses for my clients they would probably if ever see the difference.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/9, 1/200–Available light

I was very pleased with the Nikon D750 performance again at ISO 12800.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/9, 1/200–Available light

As you can see it appears that the Nikon D4 isn't as cropped at 100%, but that is due to the 24MP versus the 16MP chip difference. I am really having a hard time telling the difference between the two at ISO 12800, so that means those who are wanting a high ISO camera that is full-framed then the Nikon D750 is a steal at this price.

There is one downside that I have noticed when comparing the two cameras. Inside the viewfinder the Nikon D4 tells you more information at the bottom of the viewfinder. You know what mode you are in for example and that is missing in the Nikon D750.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nikon D750 has arrived!

Yesterday my Nikon D750 arrived. I think I have shot only 20 shots at the most on it. These are just my first impressions on holding it and going through the menu.

The very first thing I noticed when picking up the camera is all my lenses felt a lot heavier than they do on my Nikon D4.

So while the camera itself is tremendously lighter this shifts the balance. I feel like most of my lenses now feel more like the long glass were I feel like the camera is mounted to the lens rather than the lens being mounted to the camera.

Another change I noticed is the grip is different. I think I may like it more, but only time will tell if I prefer the deeper feel of the grip.

This is my first Nikon that had Wi-Fi built into the camera. I have been doing this with my Fuji X-E2, but can tell you that the Nikon App for my Android phone works superior to the Fuji system.

You can control the camera remotely or view photos.

This is what the taking pictures with the app looks like.

When you turn the phone to horizontal you get a different view.

I will write more about the camera in the coming days, but for now the first really cool feature I love that I do not have on my Nikon D4 is the built in Wi-Fi.

What I like is the ability to take photos with my camera and immediately share these through social media. I have done this with my Fuji, but really hate the JPEGs from the Fuji. It makes people look like wax figures.

The Nikon JPEGs are far superior to the in camera JPEGs from my Fuji.

Looking forward to getting to know the camera in the coming days and catching you up on my findings.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Storytellers need high CQ more than IQ

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/6.3, 1/100
You may know about IQ [Intelligence Quotient] and EQ [Emotional Quotient], but there is a third CQ [Curiosity Quotient] that also plays into our success. I would argue that the most important of these three for the entrepreneur and storyteller is CQ.

CQ is the ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems. This is what a journalist does when they investigate a story and then distill it down to those nuggets that are digestible by their audience.

Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

“People with high CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They find novelty exciting and are quickly bored with routine. They tend to generate many more original ideas and are counter conformists,” says Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. He is an international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing.

Last year Thomas Friedman’s wrote an Op Ed piece in the New York Times called It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. Friedman says, “...the skill required for every decent job is rising as is the necessity of lifelong learning... those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”

Did you know that for every job opening, there are three people who are unemployed? When it comes to finding your dream job, this isn’t the best news for job seekers. However, this does present an opportunity: to create a job that doesn’t exist yet.

This is the new way of thinking for those entering the job market today. This should also be the way all storytellers think. They need to think about pitching ideas rather than waiting for editors to come to them with an idea to execute.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/4.6, 1/60
Amy Toensing has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine for over a decade and was one of the keynote speakers for the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar which was just a couple weeks ago.

Listen to her in this interview:

Getting out of your comfort zone is what those with high CQ are drawn to everyday. Toensing shared how her curiosity of the artists that drew hieroglyphics on the rocks in Australia from thousands of years ago had piqued her curiosity. She started to ask questions which led to a lifelong journey of a story about the Aborigines for National Geographic Magazine.

My mentor Don Rutledge talked about how photographers need to approach their work like a child asking, "Why is the sky blue?"

We are all born with curiosity. This is what causes us to use our senses of touching, smelling and exploring the world around us. Sometimes adults have discouraged this curiosity. But without curiosity there is little motivation to discover and explore. Apathy can set in for us and we can become depressed.

Curiosity is the key to learning. Curiosity also involves risk taking.

If you find yourself in depression and apathy, maybe the key is rekindling your curiosity.  Take some risks today and explore your world and ask the simple question of Why.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Found my Kodak Master Photoguide

Found this in the drawer today and it took me down memory lane. What is it you might ask?

Well while this Kodak Master Photoguide has been gathering dust the insides of the book are burned into my brain from years of using this book over and over to help me learn the principles of photography.

Here is what is on the first page of the book to tell you how it is to be used and I did:
You can carry this Photoguide with you when you take pictures so it will be handy when you need it. It's just the right size to fit in your pocket, purse, or camera bag. The Master Photoguide contains in compact form a great deal of information normally found in photo books. You'll find it useful whether or not you have an exposure meter or an automatic camera. This Photoguide will help you set your camera for the correct exposure, select filters, use supplementary lenses for close-ups, determine depth of field and much more.
     In addition, the Photoguide is especially helpful for planning purposes to show you in advance what the photographic requirements will be for the pictures you want to take.

The "Sunny 16 Rule" is right here on the Daylight Exposure Dial. I would often have to use this dial because my earliest camera didn't have a meter. You lined up your ISO with one of these:
  • Daylight or Hazy Sun
    • On light sand or snow
    • Average
  • Weak, Hazy Sun
  • Cloudy Bright
  • Heavy Overcast
  • Open Shade
On light sand or snow you would dial your ISO and the corresponding ƒ/16 would be the exposure and the shutter speed would be the closest to 1/ISO.

I would often pull this little book out when planning a new adventure and find the tap and then flip to the page. Just like the book says, "the Photoguide is especially helpful for planning purposes."

Click on photo to see it larger
Click on the photo above to see the existing light choices.

Click on photo to see it larger
The little book even helped you figure out your depth of field. Say you were to put a lens on the backboard in a basketball game. What ƒ-number will you need to be sure the rim to the players faces is in focus. This would help you in planning. Back then you would have to buy the right ISO film for such a situation. This helped you preplan.

Even planning on doing some macro work with extension tubes or a bellows this would help you figure out the right exposure, because we could't take the photo and adjust right away. You would have to go and process the film and then see the results.

For those of you starting out you need to know for most of us we had to really work at understanding the principles because the learning curve over time was longer with film. You didn't click and look at an LCD to see your results. Sometimes it would be weeks later after you got back from traveling for a coverage for a month or so on the road.

While this book isn't as necessary to the photographer's bag it is still relevant for those wanting to see principles of exposure on a dial.  It is great for planning what you might need on your next assignment.

The best part is this book was like a cheat sheet for photography. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Remember Photography is Writing with Light

Nikon D3s, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500
I shoot a lot of exteriors of restaurants. The reason I am sent to cover these locations is often because they are in a new market. My job is to capture that they are in the new market.

Chick-fil-A opened a new restaurant in downtown Chicago by Loyola University. I wanted to capture they were in a major downtown location. So I shot up to show the skyscrapers.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/60
Later in the day I would shoot a similar photograph. I think the best time most of the time for architectural shoots is at dusk or dawn. I prefer dusk rather than getting up early. However, I shoot both most of the time. It had been overcast and raining earlier that evening and this is close to midnight in downtown Chicago.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 160, ƒ/7.1, 1/100
Later I was to return to Chicago and capture a new Chick-fil-A at an iconic location at the corner of State and Lake. I went up on the train tracks above to get this photo. I was doing everything I could to show that the most photographed location in Chicago–due to the Chicago Theater sign was next door to our new restaurant.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/11, 1/100
I was shooting this from every place I could on the street. The problem with daylight when doing these photos is that everything thing is equally lighted. Therefore the lighting doesn't help you emphasize anything. You are limited to the graphics of composition to make the photo work.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/100
Notice how shooting at dusk now the Chick-fil-A signage and the Chicago Theater signage now pop.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/80
Even though my composition takes more of the street in here, due to the red in the Chick-fil-A sign your eye is drawn to it. Compare that to this one below, even tho they are different angles you can see how the daylight overpowers the Chick-fil-A sign.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/200
My eye goes to the Chicago Theater, but I really have to work to notice the Chick-fil-A. For the reason I was sent to Chicago, this photo fails.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/6.3, 1/80
One of my favorite images from my time in Chicago was capturing this image here. I like the night time because the Chick-fil-A sign shows up, but now I can see inside the restaurant. I can see the customer chillin and just enjoying being inside the restaurant.

My tip to you is to plan your coverage to be at a location at dusk or dawn to get these photos that pop due to the lighting values changing from the artificial light verses sunlight. Remember that the word "Photography" means to write with light–so do it.