J R learns the D200 - Day 27
Expanding into the Why Dangle
Day 27 — April 1, 2006: As I posted the photo data under the pictures yesterday, I realized I was trying to make of my medium zoom a telephoto, taking long shots it couldn't reach, then blowing up small portions. It's nice that I can do that if needed, but I was neglecting its why dangle end. Today, I concentrated on the wider portion of its spectrum, easing my thinking into more real estate.
I was also sick and tired of being at the lake everyday. Oh, I'll go back. I always do. But I've been wanting to expand my visions, see more of Dallas, explore architectural space. Anna suggested Fair Park, and I wasn't immediately charmed by the notion, but once we got there, it was glorious, fun, even exciting.
I'd also been avoiding art. Other people's art. I get that way sometimes. I call it art ennui. I don't care to look at much art and I don't go out of my way to encounter it. If I push against that listlessness, it lasts longer, so I get involved in something else. Learning a new camera to the rescue.
Changing the photo venue today managed to bring me back toward my excitement about art. Dallas art. Some old, some new. Nothing borrowed. Lots of blue.
The game here is to render the fountaining water at both fast and slow shutter speeds, to see what water looks like in those two situation — different. Very close to the exact scene, only the shutter speed and matching aperture has been changed to protect the innocent.
Aim a camera at the sky, and it will attempt to render it as an 18% reflecting gray. Like this blob. Often today, though not this first time, I adjusted EV Compensation to get more or less (in increments of .33 stops) exposure. This might have taken a +.7 or more.
I tried adapting a plastic cup to upend on my LCD temporarily, so I could check exposure and focus and stuff, even in bright sunlight. But it didn't work. I've seen small plastic gizmos that shield light slightly from the sides and somewhat more from the top, but I doubt one of those will make a dark enough space to see my big LCD well.
There's another folding plastic unit that reminds me of the folding cups we used to be amazed that it would actually hold water when I was a Boy and Explorer Scout some years ago. That extending opaque cube has a built-in loupe. But if it were in place, I wouldn't be able to get my eye close enough to the viewfinder to find any views.
I'm still contemplating my next design. The last one was attached to the camera strap via some red yarn that still blows in my face and itches. I'm thinking some thick yarn glued around the edge of a matte black-painted cup tall enough that I can focus through a lens from one of the $1.00 reading glasses I go through every three or four weeks. It'll be on a string, too.
On some rare occasions, the D200 in not able to focus. It hunts back and forth, usually settling on out of focus, even though it finds focus a few nanoseconds before that. Which is why the lens has a switch between M/A and M. Manual/Automatic means even though the camera and lens are set for automatic focus, I can still reach around and turn the large, wide focus ring to focus.
Today, upon first encountering this behavior, I instead, reached around and clicked the switch to Manual, focused to my heart's content (it being at f/2.8 makes it easy in bright or cloudy day. I haven't had the issue indoors or in low to no light. Yet.
Then I switched back to M/A and continued. Next time I hope to simply focus it, then partially hold down the shutter to snap it back to full-time autofocus. A lens whose maximum aperture dwindles as it zooms out (toward telephoto) might well be more difficult to manually focus. Eventually, I'll find that out.
It exhibits this difficulty when pointed at glass or polished materials and when it's not quite sure what I'm pointing it at. There will probably be other instances.
I get so proud when I encounter an image that needs a lot of work and I'm certain I can do it. This time, I straightened the building so its verticals are vertical instead of appearing to lean back, as they do when a wide angle lens is pointed upwards. I kept the softly bulbous clouds in the sky but contrasted up the building. I probably put more post production effort into the shot than any other on this page (except Locomotive Textures).
There's very little post production in this shot. I slightly increased the contrast, but nothing fancy. Luscious how this lens and camera combo render light and darks. This new zoom is my first lens that actually works with Nikon's vaunted Color Matrix exposure mode, and it seems to be a big help.
Our timing was nearly perfect. A few minutes before and/or after, and shadows intruded on this glowing lady. For the briefest of moments, however, all of her shone like a full moon, while the backdrop was still shadowy gray, nearly perfect lighting for this 70-year-old sculpture.
Now, with this lens, I may be able to drop the Center Weighted Average mode in favor of the stellar matrix.
Cloudy bright light helps, too, but I am amazed how superior Nikon's Color Matrix exposure mode is — and so much better than the drop-back default full-frame-average mode that's the best all my other lenses can do with this camera. Stunning.
I masked out the sky in this one, so I could render here what I saw in this shot before I took it. Powdery blue sky behind amazing textures on a white or gray subject.
I took a bunch of photographs of this building, but this is the simplest and the most attractive.
I shot this thing through an wrought-iron fence with vertical elements wide enough apart that I could put both lens and wingy-looking lens hood through. I disappeared a pickup truck just left of the dark protruding blob at the top and a fence post on the far left, darkened everything, so whatever this thing is would look more like what I saw in it.
It speaks mass and brute strength. To me, anyway.
I'm almost always a sucker for metal pipes. I often shoot them.
I shot every fresco we came upon today, and I was amazed that this zoom could capture the whole of every one of them, usually enclosed in smallish vertical vaults attached to the fronts of buildings along the completely empty lagoon. The artist made most of his women look like muscle-builders with rounded breasts, and there's something really weird going on with perspective looking up at a tractor that appears vertical and a woman floating over the scene scattering seeds.
I like pegasii wherever I find them, and there are several around Fair Park. Again, I left the sky dark, but brightened and contrasted up the face of this tower (you can barely see that the leaves in front of it are lighter than those at its edges), but I didn't monkey with the perspective, which is an undocumented feature of such a wide angle lens, tilted back and pointing up.
I've seen water splashing through this tier of pans, but I like its fresh blue and red paint job. I cropped it so there'd be no linear image to distract from the three-dimensionality of this, this whatever.
Simple parts of a building framed by large trees. The hardest part was getting that pole to look vertical. Well, it still doesn't look vertical, but it mostly is. I cropped off solid, near-black green grass at the bottom and burned in the sky visible in the U-shaped crotch atop the tree on the left. That's all.
I fell for this screen. It is far more interesting than the fresco in the near-darkness on the left. I shot it with the bright sky and building barely showing at the bottom and cropped off darkness left and right.
This is a strong woman with thick limbs and no hourglass figure. But she's beautiful.
Utterly simple, edgy and orange. Again, I cropped off blackness on the right and dark floor at the bottom.
Tired and hungry, we walked back to the car, getting another view of that luscious fountain.
Which, in today's often cloudy-dull light sometimes looked gloomy, but I was thankful for the dark, shadowy presence across the street.
Next stop was Paper Arts, formerly Paper Routes, where I got to try out my lens for one of its main intended uses — photographing art in galleries and other indoor places.
Art Dog was pleasant, friendly, blind and deaf, but in none of the photographs I took of him was he ever rendered sharp. Maybe because his sharp days are long gone. Maybe some other more mysterious reason. Most of those shots, however, were much less sharp than this one.
The first art-like object I saw inside was this starry purple dangle. I probably should have got down on its level, but then the stars may not have been so obvious stars. Purple is one of the truly great colors, and I heartily approve of dangling translucents. I grayed out the glass window part of the front door, then cropped it out entirely. T
There was a busy-looking multi-shelf on the right of the table and sculpture, but I gradually rendered it a transitional spectrum the color of the rug on the left. Owner Terri might notice the difference, but if you haven't visited Dallas' most diverse paper (all kinds of it) supply shop, you might never never know.
I selected the background, shadows and all, lightened that, inverted the selection and contrasted up the objects d'art, then cropped it. I love the colors and color contrast of those little towers.
We hadn't been to Jade Garden this millennium, so we tried it. When I shot the busy front, I didn't even see the white car with the door open. All I could see was all that repeating vertical texture and thin bright open sign. I straightened the image out, so it didn't look like it was twisting left and right, but left the strange automotive shapes in the lower corners.
The table really was orange. I'm pretty sure the napkin was white and the fork silverish. The chopsticks were likely the color of wood, but I doubt the plate was greenish. The scene was illuminated by either greenish fluorescent or tungsten bulbs, and the D200 is most fooled by the later.
I've listened with great interest to the DVD guy explaining how to manually set white balance on this camera, but I haven't tried it yet. This would have been a good place to start. It used to be that if I got something that actually was white back to white in the picture, all the other colors would fall into place.
But it didn't happen there. The orange was oranger and the plate was not.
Coming into the pit area at 500X Gallery offered a great opportunity to maximize my minimum focal length on this zoom. I've written about this guy's work before, and I like how it wraps around the building around it. Note the dimensional drawing winding around the lower corner beneath the guy in the hat and continuing out onto the floor.
Completely coincidental but a nice one is that the only color besides dark wood, similarly brownish concrete floor and white walls is red drawing and red painting. Everybody else is shadows, manifesting scale without intruding into the meaning. A very successful documentation of art, even if I did crop off the top a bit.
My first shots of this were washed out, graying the black contrast and red outline. I had to wait for the colors to cycle back to red, but I messed significantly with the exposure compensation to get the black black and the red glowing. There was no post production for this shot.
And it's the slowest hand-held shutter speed I've yet attempted. And it worked well. Wide-angle lenses are much more forgiving than telephotos, because telephotos enlarge images and wide make them smaller. I could never have hand-held a camera at a 1/10th of a second shutter speed with a telephoto lens — until I get VR.
I not only had scads of fun today exploring new space, but I learned a lot, and I'm beginning to implement many of the deep-thought concepts I couldn't even contemplate last week or last month. I'm even photographing art again, although I didn't get names and titles, and I should have.
It's difficult to imagine a better lens for doing the sorts of things I did with this one today.
The few times I've spent this much on anything, I've had repeated attacks of buyer's remorse. But I'm still thinking I did just the right thing this time — although I probably should confess that the memory card reader/writer that I so carefully selected then I bought at the same time as I ordered the lens, accepts every major memory card form factor except the one this camera uses.
I was still in the throes of thinking about doing a major house search for the CF card reader I bought for my Mom two years ago, when Anna gifted me one that works great and saves long minutes of battery power every time I unload my camera. Thanks, dear.
[All shots above taken with the Nikon 17-55 2.8 AFS lens.]
Total images, so far = 3,611.