J R's Images & Ideas
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My New Camera - Day Oh, something...

Looking down from a hill and other images

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Curly Weeds - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Curlicue Weeds   1/160 @ f/5.6     iso250 FF (full frame image)  HH (hand-held)  pattern metering

This was shot late in the day, by which time I'd upped the ISO to 250, after shooting at 100 for most of today's 126 shots. I'd never tried that low an iso on this camera before. Since there's hardly any issue with using 200 or 250 or 320 (which seems to be a favorite), I have been.

This morning I did a test, shooting my front window (the one with all the multi-colored glass) at ISOs 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and two that only have letter names [HO.5, HO.7 and HO.10], no numbers, which may be up to about 3200 or so), and it was not easy to tell which was which, so there's some truth in my conjecture.

[[ Not on my monitor, at least. On Anna's it looked like sandpaper. On Joel's it looked like sandpaper. So I guess on yours it probably looks like sandpaper, too. My monitor seems to be protecting me from sand storms. ]]

Anyway, that got me to thinking about low ISO, so I started with 100. The sun was going down pretty fast by that point, so I needed the extra oomph.

South Window - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

High ISO Test   1/500 @ f/11     iso3,200+ nearly FF-wide HH  pattern
neither condensed or reduced in size

This is a 100% size crop from the fastest speed. It's nearly full frame wide wide, but only about 10% of the height but is presented at the full 100% of size. The exposure is good — a little over for the light stuff, a little under for the dark stuff. And normally, a photographer wouldn't up the iso to this level with this much light, but I wanted to do a test, and I didn't want to wait around for the perfect conditions (whatever those might be).

I did have the camera set to reduce image noise at higher ISOs, so this is what the D200 can do. I think it's astonishing. If I'd had my wits about me, I would have used a tripod, and kept the framed image exactly the same for each shot, use the same aperture and only changed the shutter speed. But I just wanted to know and know quick.

I found out. This sucker is astonishing. If I said that already, I don't mind repeating it. Even when and if it looks like sandpaper (I'm so sorry I bought an NEC Multisync LCD1060NXI monitor. Unlike the Dell we got for my mom, it does not come with optimization software, and I can't get some without paying several hundreds of dollars extra, and for that I could get a Dell monitor.) it's pretty amazing that there's an image at all at that iso.

One of the nice things about shooting my window is that there's different colors of glass in it, and the image noise at iso3200+ is plainly visible at this high "film" speed. Especially in the reds and blues. The glass cars are smell-um bottles whose "tops" are the continental kits on each.

I probably would not shoot a wedding at that high iso. Those folks like their photographs smooth, though there wouldn't be that much light coming in any windows at the dozens of churches I've shot weddings in over the years (usually for friends; sometimes outdoors in setting suns [and rising moons]). But for almost anything else — extra-especially for the web — that's not bad.

I will try the top speeds again in genuine low-light situations, soon as I can figure one out. I used to shoot concerts and music festivals, but mostly don't anymore. Maybe a full moon night at the lake...

Anyway, there I was shooting at ISO 100 today. I went up to the corner of Mockingbird and Peavy (I think) and Loop 12 Buckner, to see what I could see from there. I was hoping for some soaring Pelks, but didn't see any. But there's a great view of the downtown skyline, some boats, a lot of the lake, bicyclers and that sort of thing. A different view.


Skyline with Sail Boat - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Sailboat, Lake and Skyline   1/250 @ f/8     iso100 85% crop  HH  pattern

This is a classic White Rock Lake photograph. Importantly, it shows where the lake is, not that far from downtown Dallas. We can only see a few glimpses of houses, but there's gobs of trees. And the sailboat. The sailboat insisted on sailing around that end of the lake all the time I was up there, so I followed it from perch to perch.

Mockingbird Bridge - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

1/500 @ f/7.1     iso100 FF HH  pattern

I've shot this bridge many times, but never before shooting almost directly into the sun. The lake is left under the bridge. The cars in the trees at top center are parked next to the dreaded (I'm not a dog fan, and I don't like dog stink, but I especially do not like the way dogs [especially unleashed ones] swarm over the natural meadows I'd come to love. I'd been calling that jut of land south of the bridge "Thistledown Road," mocking its unpaved paths and abundance of thistles [[which the City bozos have since eradicated, so the dogs won't get burs in their hides?]])...

Anyway, I'm fond of the jut and the bridge and the wide forest below and to the right (where homeless people live even in the winter in houses constructed of tin cans and trash). So this bright paved pathway is near and dear to me, banal as it might be.


Yacht Club from Treed Hill - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

1/500 @ f/5.6     iso250 FF HH  pattern

This is another late shot with higher iso. For awhile, I took the camera off P (Programmed Auto) mode and placed it on Aperture mode, specifically f/5.6, which Björn says is this lens' best f/stop. (I've checked his test again, and he says no such thing. In fact, he says it's great wide-open, which means now I gotta try that, and I was being so careful to close down...) The Actual, full-size image is sharper than it appears here.

Reducing images to fit on a web page smushes their pixels together, and the resulting re-imaged pictures need to be sharpened, before they're presentable. It was normal for me to sharpen my Sony's images 100%. The D200 has more than twice as many pixels (the Sony had 13 X as many pixels as the Kodak that preceded it, but I'd probably have to wait half a millennium for that much improvement again, so I settled for just twice, this time, although it seems much more than that), so there's more to squish together (the window shot is not squashed, but all the rest here are or they'd never fit on a page, and it'd take aching long minutes to download them, even with high speed net.

Same Sailboat - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Same Sailboat   1/250 @ f/5.6     iso100 FF HH  spot

Ditto on the aperture. In full size, those trees on the point just past the sailboat and the pump house with its tall chimney are sharp. There's a guy in a white shirt standing behind a park bench on the point and some picnic tables behind him, and they're all sharp, also. The pump house chimney is sharp. The apartment building behind it is sharp. I can almost make out the numbers on the sail on the sailboat. Shown at full size the image would be 36 x 53 inches (only a very small portion of which can I see at one time on my 19-inch monitor).

Everything I shot today, including the iso test, was on my ancient 180mm f/2.8 Nikon lens. It's the only one I have that auto focuses on the Nikon, and it is responsible, in part, for me getting a Nikon in the first place. Canon lenses are cheaper, but nothing's cheaper than I-already-paid-for-them-more-than-20 (and in some cases 30) years-ago.


Sun Gold Yield Sign - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Sun Gold Yield Sign   1/500 @ f/9     iso200 FF HH  pattern

This is very much the sort of photography I do. Pelks are fine and wondrous beasts on water, land or in the air. Landscapes are fascinating. Cute kids are... uh... cute. And goofy adults will always be worth a snap or two. But it's simple abstracts that grab me every time.

I like that nondescript pole on the left marking time and space. And although I thought I'd waited long enough that the car had left the picture on the right, I like it there, bare vestiges of reality creeping into my abstraction, just to remind.

In the full-size image on my monitor, you could count the blades of grass along the bottom edge of the sky meets grass land lump the Yield sign is poked into. I like that the back of the sign itself is just glare, only a smallish splotch of yellow. I don't even mind the noisy, splotchy, underexposed dark blue gray sky behind it.


Picnic Building in Sunset - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Picnic Building in the Sunset   1/250 @ f/6.3     iso200 FF HH  center-weighted-average

Behind this (off to the left) is where I parked my car for today's little trek. Coming back, I saw this glowing sunset reflector. And no matter how I rotate it, half a degree by degree, it always looks crooked. But abstracted. I was tempted to crop in on the building, but this image could not do without that hook-nosed street light.


Redbud Trees - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Redbuds   1/250 @ f/5     iso100 FF HH  pattern

So far, I've only felt like sharing really good shots. I think this may be one of those, but there's several things off-kilter about the composition and execution. I was mostly interested in the budding trees themselves. I'd have been happier to be closer when this craving came upon me, but there was this road (Mockingbird) and a lot of traffic, and the evening light was so perfect.

Shadows long and jet dark. The shadow wheat field gold of the meadow from the trees, down past that out-of-place car top, and the mown meadow down to the yellow warning sign and the bikler (we can't see the bike; we assume what he's humping is a bike), the lake, the boat blurred behind the left-most trees, the point that looks like an island, and the dark shore beyond.

Not to forget the crispy (on my monitor, at least) side lighting on the redbuds (Are they Redbuds? I don't know my trees any more than I knew my birds four years ago). The green they're planted in. Everything is so lovely.

Hardly noticeable that the trees are dead center and too low on the horizon. That light is on the right (car top) and top edges. Light at the edges distracts, and this either proves it or proves it doesn't. Ahh, who care's? I like this photograph. And I'd like it more if those buds were more contrasty.

Pelk Floater - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

1/x@ f/x     iso320 FF HH  pattern

I shot this guy before I drove to the top of the hill by the picnic building. I shot him (the nose fin marks him as a young breeding male) at Sunset Bay, where I went to see if the pelicans were still there. Many were. Maybe half the flock wasn't, however, and I kept thinking — feeling guilty for going where they were like sitting pelicans, easy to shoot — they might be soaring off somewhere else, practicing for the major emigration northward for the summer and early autumn.

If any pelks had come floating in from the sky while I was there, I might have stayed. But they were just doing their ordinary pelican things, floating, preening and yawing their big beaks at each other. So I left, sure every time I do, I won't see them again till next October, but there they still are.

What do you suppose they're waiting for? Snow?

Bridge Fasteners - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Bridge Fasteners   1/125 @ f/4.5     iso200 FF HH  center-weighted-average

Nuts and bolts holding up the bridge over Buckner Boulevard at Mockingbird/Peavy I had to walk over to get back to my car. 1/125 is too slow to hand-hold a lens that long, nominally 180mm (the 35mm equivalence of 270mm on this camera, since the silicon "film" is smaller), so the shutter speed should have been a minimum of 1/250th, but I was tired and saw it, and thought, what a nice little shot, and some of it is actually sharp, and there's texture on several surfaces, so who'd ever know?

It was about as close as the lens would focus, and there's several things that are already fuzzed out because the f/stop's too wide. But I like it. Actually, it has more going on than the Yield sign in a cubist clunky sort of way, with colors to match the setting sun (Notice how the rusty bolt at the bottom's shadow is higher than it is.) Simple geometric design. Nice way to end the day and the shoot. I was sure shot.

Which brings my total on my new camera to 2,185 shots in the first 20 days.

[All shots above taken with the Nikon 180mm 2.8 AF lens.]