She replied, "They usually go around my birthday (this weekend)
and being that it has been so warm I figure they must be headed out soon.
Although I have not seen them do the pre-flight practice run yet ... Keep
up the great photographs!"
So I felt obliged to get myself and camera and fabulous 180 lens down to
Sunset Bay for a bunch more shots before the Pelks pack it in. I shot 137
images, fiddling between shots with the two sets of Auto Focus or Exposure
or Something gizmos on the
of the camera.
read the manual pages about those dials, and I still have no idea
what they're supposed to do.
I read that some company has just announced sheets of short-cuts
with which I could learn everything I need to know about the D200 in one
day. Which is patently absurd. They also announced, but have not begun to
(or I would have ordered one on the spot) a series of DVDs that will teach
me my new camera.
I like learning via tapes or DVDs, and the idea excites me. I've been hoping
for a book. Something from a different point of view from the clipped English
text in the manual. I want to know how, of course, but I also want to know
why. Any visual connections of facts to buttons and dials and switches on
the camera would be a big help.
Another friend, artist Ann Huey, whose website I
do and love (because it's so very unique to her and her style) wrote after
I sent out an email notice to a bunch of friends
I said, "Just got a super duper new camera that's proving to be
uphill learning curve."
And she said, "Hey! Now you get to feel stupid!" meaning that's
how she felt when I was leading her through us creating her site. But she's
Near Touch Down 1/640 @ f/13 iso400
pattern HH about 10% crop time 16:10:46
I do feel stupid about my
new camera right now. But hey, it's a start. If I really thought I could
cheat-sheet my way to knowing everything I need to know in one day, I'd
it. I usually learn new cameras by taking pictures with them, and my progress
so far this week is obvious, even to me.
I've taught about a half dozen friends their own cameras that I'd
never seen before. It usually takes about a fifteen minutes to a half hour.
For me to figure
and how, then to get the concepts and the twiddly bits across to them. I
need a me to come show me this thing's ropes.
Why are there two separate dials that have to do with focus modes and patterns
(or did I just answer my own question? Modes and patterns? If
so, where's the separate dials for exposure modes and patterns?) I am baffled.
I know I can push one button to make the focus point the center of the picture,
and that's where I assumed it was all during today's shooting, until different
spots on the
viewfinder started blinking, filling with the in-focus color and making
the in-focus beep.
That set me to wondering how consistent the overall interface is, with beeps
and buttons and all those subtle and less so aspects of how and why
with this camera. I suspect they are, Nikon has always been good at that,
but I have yet to plumb the depths of it. Although I have been through all
the menus, submenus and have even pushed the question mark key button to
find out what this, that and the other actually do for a slight majority
of the menu items. Next step is figuring out
From all this confusion you might wonder why the pictures on this page
seem to be in pretty good focus. The answer is, yeahhh, these are.
But there's a bunch others of that 137 image total that are tantalizingly
out of focus, composition, exposure or visual interest. I'm pretty tired
of showing you all my mistakes, and I just
moments in the
sunshine. To show my amazing progress. But there were also a bunch of near
misses. Take this example, for example.
Tilt-Wing Flyer 1/400 @ f/103 iso400
pattern HH about 90% crop
Alluring in its in-flight attitude. Kinda comical, but head-on is a nice
viewpoint. That other pelk on the right would have made a nice comparison.
Instead of the trees sharp and the bird out of focus, visa versa woulda been
really nice. He would have just popped off the page, focus wise.
Our descending star is right in the center of the uncropped frame, and
his feet are almost in focus, but wings, nose and body sure aren't.
No, upon more careful viewing at full magnification (that among other things
obvious the Gray Heron in the woods behind and between the the two pelks),
I see that the trees are out of focus and over exposed, too. In fact, everything
is. It's unanimous. Probably
I didn't want to show it.
One of the reasons I am getting more shots in focus and correctly exposed
and maybe a little more interesting than the several days before today
on my new camera, is that I'm getting more used to the feel of this camera/lens
where to put my fingers to keep them from being surprised off various moving
parts on my external focusing lens. New lenses focus internally (IF). And
to keep that monster balanced enough to hand-hold it still enough not to
add too much of my own, off axis movement
to the mix.
@ f/13 iso400
pattern HH about 30% crop time 16:10:47
This one has a welcoming committee,
and they add to the compositional interest. Love the skid splash — and the
unfettered sharpness. Look at the water, and
you can see the depth of field. Not much
of it, even at f/13, but the entire bird is inside it, for a change. Even
the splash is sharp.
This shot was part of a click-click-click sequence with Near
Touch Down above. Could never have done that with the Sony. That was
always either click - pause - click - pause - click - long pause, or me flying
blind as three kinda sorta click-click-clicks handled the shooting while
I stared into a black view unfinder. Those pauses were always at least a
second, even in blind burst mode. Meanwhile I was supposed to keep panning
whatever I was shooting as if I could actually see it. This thing shoots
up to five shots per second, and I'm in that viewfinder experiencing every
this picture, then the next, then the next. There's a security in that
that I've never had with a digital camera before. I could get used to that.
And when I do, I'll take even more better pictures more often.
That feeling is extraordinarily helpful in getting the exposure and the
focus right. I love this camera. But I gotta find a lighter lens.
Full Skid 1/640
@ f/13 iso400
pattern HH about 15% crop time 16:10:47
Same shallow depth of field.
Same welcoming committee, with some startled late arrivals. Same bird
and nearly the same second. It wasn't on full clickity-click automatic. I
pushed each shot, when I wanted it shot, which was pretty lickity-quick.
The two shots after this one, however, were not as sharp. But I finally
had the flying and landing sequence I've been hoping for. Will hope for again,
I like this sequence, but I'll like more sequences in the future, also.
I want some full, flying sequences and some group flying sequences. Etc.
I'm beginning to develop an interest in either an even longer lens or zoom
or another place where I can get closer to more birds.
Not sure I'd want to shoot at a zoo, but may be. Perhaps I need to work
on my sneaking up.
A guy in a canoe spooked every one of the pelks last week. He blithely paddled
through where they were all perched preening, then after scaring them
all off going one way, he came back through and scared some more birds
not used to having to share their little piece of lakescape.
a little submarine could sneak up good. But that would be difficult. The
as far out
the lander above and below was,
probably only a few inches to a couple feet deep. I'm wary of carrying
this expensive a digicam out over the water. More like scared, actually.
@ f/13 iso400
pattern HH about 15% crop time 16:10:48
Here's the final shot in the
sequence, reduced and sharpened exactly the same as the ones above. Not,
obviously, sharpened nearly enough. Bird is
just left of exact middle of this image. Most of him is behind the depth
of focus seen in the water, splashes and his right wing. The other images
are all right on the center, so that may be the deal. I sure didn't
dials between shots here, although I did a lot of that all through today's
shoot. Nice shot otherwise, but we gotta make mistakes to learn anything
in this game.
Now all I gotta find out is why.
I also have to figure out what those dials on the back of the camera are
Arghhh! No wonder I'm confused. I've got the manual opened to page 4, showing
the diagrams of the back of the camera. The top dial-switch of the two
I fiddled randomly this afternoon, especially the one that incorporates
a central flat disk with the letters AE-L and AF-L on it,
button. I'm confused typing this for you here now.
AF sounds like auto focus and AE reads Auto Exposure. Lock must mean
if I push that, whatever focus or exposure the camera set when it pointed
at what I want in focus or exposured will stay that way when I point it another
direction for the composition I really want.
I thought I got that by partially
pushing down the shutter button. I'm not
will reach — or want to reach — that far while balancing the camera and
some behemoth lens — and doing all the other thinking I need to keep
up with this camera.
Then there are three selections (sorry if this seems tedious after all that
exciting art crit and pelican discussion above, but if I can put these diverse
thought patterns into my own words, I might also be able to put them into
action. Maybe. One hopes.
So the three possibilities around and to the left of the AE-L/AF-L flat
button are illustrated on page 61 with icons that look completely dissimilar
to those around that button on my camera. Did they change them
at the last minute and not bother to tell the terse devil who wrote the manual?
If I'm reading this right the three choices are (and this is just the first
one), 3D color matrix II/Color matrix II/Color matrix, which is either the
metering mode I should probably set it at if I'm using one of the new
whiz-bang DX, elder G or
D lenses, or what I should probably use if I'm using a Non-CPU lens,
although then this same click is called something different even though
it's at the same position on the detented dial.
Or Center weighted or Spot.
I'll just accept the hoohah matrix color stuff. I think I already understand
center-weighted and spot (I still have my Honeywell/Pentax Spot Meter that
looks like a short-barelled, big handle gun I used to point at precisely
exposed the bestest in a picture at, then align a dial or two, then read
the shutter speed/f/stop exposure, transfer that to my camera and go click
back in the very old days sometime last century. But it long since stopped
working. Yes I understand spot. And Center-weighted is, well, center-weighted.
Even if the icons are different. Oh, no. Hold the phone. They are similar
than on the camera. Oh, yeah, that's clear and easy and damned near intuitively
obvious to the most casual observer. Uh-huh. Sure.
And it's just so very lucid to explain the use of the center-weighted click
on the dial not inside the box that's labeled center-weighted where it might
be too obvious for us poor fools trying to find enlightenment in the manual,
but instead inside the box on labeled "matrix"
on page 61. (What was I saying about integrated interfaces?)
Give that manual guy a prize. And another one for parking exposure metering
marked both AE
and AF. Clear as mud.
No wonder I were confusado.
Silhouetted Cormorants 1/750
@ f/4 iso400 pattern HH about 35% crop
The Center-weighted icon is on top. Matrix matrix matrix and/or Not
Matrix/Non-CPU is in the middle. And Spot is the spot at the bottom. Eureka!
I think I've
it. At least I don't have to buy any more clues or vowels.
So what's with the dial just over the memory card door latch near the bottom
of the back of the camera? The only label anywhere close is over a light
that glows sometimes that's labeled CF, so we know that has nothing
whatsoever to do with the switches being switched, right?
CF is Compact Flash (the kind of memory this hog uses).
Right. Top one shows a full frame filled. Next down counterclockwise around
the dial is a big diamond nearly filling its frame-like brackets ([ ]). Then's
a spot with splatters at noon, 3, 6 and 9. And finally a bigger bracket set
with a tiny + sign reversed out of a tiny white rectangle on this
So the dial near the viewfinder near the top (not the one in my paragraph
above but the one above the cormorants flying in formation) does control
exposure pattern, as I surmised a couple days ago, then decided I couldn't
And this one down here near the memory card door latch
Page 54 lists Area Modes of Automatic Focus.
The full-frame icon - "Camera automatically selects focus area containing
subject closest to camera. Prevents out-of-focus shots when photographing
erratically moving subjects." (Like a dancer, not a bird about to land
in a straight line from where he was flying just before, or a pram with twin
girls in pink inside being pushed fast by a running mother.)" Focus
area can not be selected manually and is not displayed in viewfinder or control