Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Volleyball-The Real Test of a Camera's Might

It turns out Tokay High's gym is considerably darker than a football field. Those football shots below were shot at ISO 4000, f/3.2-f/4 at 1/1000th of a second shutter speed.

But in Tokay's gym even ISO 5000 wasn't quite high enough to get a fast enough shutter speed to completely freeze the action. These were shot at f/3.2, so I could have gone down to f/2.8 to get 1/3 stop faster shutter speed, but lenses aren't their sharpest wide open.

At the next match I will take the ISO up to 8000. That ought to freeze things up a bit.

I still haven't shot a single photo at the D3s' highest standard ISO of 12,800(let alone 25K and above). One night I may just have to push it.

(all shots-Nikon D3s ISO 5000, f/3.2 @ 1/400)

Volleyball was a lot herder to shoot than I remember it being. I think it's because I have to get closer to the court than I did using the 200mm lens on my D300, so the volleyball comes at me a lot quicker than it use to. All the more reason to get that 300mm. Could be hard to use in the gym though.

Head up, I'll probably be posting a lot of sports stuff in the next couple months. It's just that time of year when sports dominate most of my time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Night Lights

High school football season has officially started and last night I covered the first varsity game ever for a new high school. But more importantly(to me) I got to put my D3s to its first real test and it aced the exam.

Super fast focus and amazing ISO performance. Once the sun dropped and the players were lit only by the stadium lights I took the ISO up to 4000, set my shutter to 1/1000 and varied my aperture from f/3.2 to f/4, depending on the location of the players on the field.

With that shutter speed of 1/1000 I was able to freeze the action flawlessly, something I was never able to do with my older D300, especially on darker fields like our local Grape Bowl.

But I had one big disadvantage-my lens.

On my D300 my 200mm 2.8 worked well enough for football
(not great since it wasn't long enough for mid-field action or action on the opposite sideline) because of the 1.5 crop factor. That means to have my photos show nothing but the action I didn't have to crop much. But on the full framed D3s I lose that crop factor. That leads to more cropping and that leads to what little noise there is being made bigger. Photos look less sharp because of this.

So this cements my buying a 300mm lens mid-September. If I want to take full advantage of the D3s I have to have the longer telephoto lens.

But other than that things couldn't have gone better(from the equipment standpoint-the game could have used some better action).

Here are some shots.

First up is a pregame shot of the coach talking to his players. I couldn't pass up the beautiful "Golden hour."

(Nikon D300 ISO 800, f/3.2 @ 1/1250)

And some action shots.

(Nikon D3s ISO 4000, f/4 @ 1/1000)

(Nikon D3s ISO 4000, f/3.2 @ 1/1000)

(Nikon D3s ISO 4000, f/3.2 @ 1/1000)

That's all for now. I'm looking forward to using the new camera at Monday's varsity girls volleyball at Tokay and the upcoming basketball season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video test

Since getting my Nikon D3s last week I've been attempting to learn the art of taking video. Mostly I've just been walking around the office in my free time taking clips of coworkers and splicing them together haphazardly.

Yesterday I had to photograph a local house that is on the market. This house happens to be in the middle of a vineyard. And being the time of year that it is the grapes are looking mighty ripe for picking. So I went back there this evening to take some simple video clips.

I edited them together using Adobe Premiere Pro, a video editing program with more options than I know what to do with a far too complicated for a person with no prior editing experience. So I did the obvious thing and jumped right in, clicking on buttons of which I have no idea what they do.

But after a while a managed to MacGyver some clips together with some royalty-free music.(gotta love that stuff).

The best way to view it is by double clicking on the video so it takes you to youtube. Then you can watch it full screen @720p.

Not too bad. I need to work on my transitions so i can avoid that freeze frame between shots. But I will figure it all out eventually.

Monday, August 23, 2010


After a year of dreaming and a few months of tight saving, it is finally here. On Friday of last week the Nikon D3s was delivered to my office. I was like a little kid ripping into the last present on Christmas morning(we all know the last gift is the best one).

Here are the specs for those who want to see em: Nikon D3s

When I got it it only had a tiny charge in the battery, so I couldn't use it for the remainder of the work day. However, I did take a photo to be the first photo. Image _DSC0001.jpg. And since I was in the office I decided to photograph the most important thing in the building.

The great and powerful Floyd!

Since Friday I have used the camera to shoot a story and it performed brilliantly, but those photos have not run in the paper yet and so I won't be showing them here. But what I do have is an image detailing just why this camera costs so much and why it's a photojournalist's ultimate weapon.

What this image shows are to photos taken with the same lens at f/4, both using ISO 3200. One is the D300 I've been using for a few years(and will continue to use) and one is the new D3s. These have not been processed in any way other than converting them from RAW to jpg and cutting the chunk out of the middle. As you can see the D3s has far less noise, has better color, and is much sharper at the same ISO.

Keep in mind that these are chunks taken out of the middle of the image, so if you were viewing the whole image on screen the noise on the D3s would be even less noticeable.

*Be sure to click the image to see the full size version.

And here is the whole D3s version(resized for easier viewing) so you can see about how big of a chunk the shots above are compared to the whole.

That's all for now. I can't wait to share some real work with the new camera, photos and video alike.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Justin and Lisa Hotz

Back in July I had the pleasure of photographing Lisa and Justin's wedding down in southern California. Having known Lisa my entire life I couldn't say no to shooting her wedding. It was a lot of work(made easier by my buddy Brian who helped out) but I had a blast.

Now that Lisa and Justin have seen the proofs I can finally show off some of the photos. These are a few of my favorites.

That's all for now. Hope you folks like em.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lodi Gem and Mineral Society

Since taking over as chief photographer at the Lodi News-Sentinel I haven't had much time to shoot anything just for the fun of it and not for work. So when an opportunity came for break from the salt mine I jumped on it.

Last week I had three assignments at basically the same place(two at American Legion Hall and one next door at Zupo Field) all at the same time. Working as quickly as I could I shot a portrait of Bob Gross, retiring director of the Lodi Community Band, and a meeting of the local Tea Party Patriots. As I was walking back to my car to drop off my lighting equipment before moving onto the baseball game I heard the eardrum-piercing sound of a bench grinder coming from what looked like a miniature airplane hanger. I had to investigate.

What I found inside was the Lodi Gem and Mineral Society. A few fellas cutting, grinding, and polishing stones. The guy who runs the place, who's name I can't recall, gave me a tour and explained the process of taking a chunky piece of gray rock and cutting/polishing it into a colorful and smooth stone.

I didn't have much time to stay but I shot for a few minutes and enjoyed the little break from work. I will be going back one day when I have more time to shoot.

A few minutes after I found the Lodi Gem and Mineral Society former mayor of Lodi and councilmember JoAnne Mounce also had to investigate the same sounds that drew mw. Great minds think alike.

Well, that's all for now. Thanks for looking, everyone. In the coming weeks there is a good chance I'll be adding updates because I will have some motivation to get out and shoot. And that motivation is coming in the form of a new Nikon D3s camera(http://nikonusa.com/D3S). I can't wait to get it. August 19th can't come soon enough.