maandag 28 november 2011

leave your white balance on auto

I know, everyone always says that your auto white balance isn’t any good. And partly it’s true, it can be way off. And that’s also the beauty of it since I only recommend shooting in auto white balance when you shoot in RAW. Because when you shoot in RAW your in-camera white balance does not really matter, you can change it afterwards without compromising the image quality.

Now back to why you can shoot auto white balance: it messes things up up. For example this photo:

With the correct white balance it looks way warmer and greener. Which would have been fine, but with the blue hint the photo looks better (to me). I do not think I would have come up with this result myself. I probably would have fine tuned my white balance to make it correct and the photo would look less alien. But with photos like this, when your white balance is off, sometimes it gives you a tip how you could process your photograph.

On the other hand, when you are on an assignment and you want to do as little post production as possible, you probably want to fine tune your white balance in camera. But if you’re shooting for yourself and you want to “develop” your photos anyway, you can try auto white balance.

Thanks for reading,


donderdag 3 november 2011

Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5 review

WARNING: Vivitars, and especially this lens, are notorious for problems with the aperture. This lens is notorious for oil leaking on the blades.

My lens is one of those lenses with oil leaking on the blades, this causes the blades to be too slow to close down. Fortunately because of something in the design the lens doesn’t automatically open up all the way when you put it on your camera with the aperture closed. It opens up to f/4, giving me two apertures to work with. (I think this is caused by the higher friction, so the springs which should open it up all the way are too weak).

Before you plan to buy this lens, check the serial number. There are multiple versions around, made by different manufacturers, although I have heard that every version of this lens is good. My lens is made by Komine.

Handling the lens:
The lens is pretty heavy, yet it does not feel unbalanced with my d60, and of course this weight should be expected for a large aperture zoom lens. The lens has a different design than most lenses: you have to refocus every time you zoom. This takes some time to get used to, but in the end you’ll keep it in mind.
The design allows very close focus at the widest end, but only a minimal focus distance of one meter at 90mm. To be honest I really like this, it gives a nice wide angle look to your near-macro shots, something you don’t see very often.

Handling the lens without metering:
If you use this lens on a consumer grade Nikon camera you’ll probably lose metering.  but if you get the hang of guessing the exposure this lens will not pose any problems. Yes this lens has a variable aperture, but it’s only half a stop, so if you forget to adjust you can easily fix it in post. And because you have to refocus anyway after you’ve zoomed this lens in or out you’ll probably remember adjusting the exposure just a bit.

The lens shows quite some chromatic aberration wide open, especially wide open. Yet your post production program is very well able to remove this. When you close it down, there still is some CA but you have to look for it. However I like to get rid of it anyway since it takes almost no effort.

Sharpness is almost OK wide open. You get a usable image, but if you look your photo at 100% you see that is soft compared to a prime shot wide open. I’m not sure if this is a fair comparison, a prime has an easier construction, but why would you settle for less if you also have a prime? However if you close it down one stop it sharpens up to very usable levels, but don’t expect extreme sharpness.

Bokeh is ok, nothing really special, but also not very distracting.

There are some downsides though, this lens is pretty prone to flare. Sometimes the flare is all over your photograph, reducing the contrast. You can use this to your advantage, but sometimes it just happens too often and easy.
I have heard quite some complaints about vignetting, but because I use this lens on a DX sensor I have not yet noticed it. When I shoot it against a white wall I’ll probably see it, but until now I have not seen it in “real” photographs.
(the highlights in the background is flare caused by a flash positioned at 60 degrees from camera left)

Buy this lens if you want an easy lens with a lot of possibilities, and that’s the reason I like it. You get a useful range, you can focus really close and you have a fast lens. This sounds too good to be true, and of course it is. The results are ok, but not amazing. I think that’s the reason I don’t use it very often, because I also have a 28mm and 50mm which do have amazing image quality and are my preferred focal lengths.  

woensdag 2 november 2011

my thought process for this photograph

First I wanted to take a normal photograph of a mushroom nearby, but the flies kept bugging me. Then this little shroom caught my attention because flies were constantly sitting on it. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and decided to come back to this mushroom since it was near the entrance of the forest.

After 2 hours I came back and the sun was already setting and I cursed myself for being too lazy to figure out what I actually wanted. Than I remembered that I also brought a flash and triggers just in case I might run out of light.
I tried a test shot and realized that the light was too hard for this photograph, good thing I always keep an envelope in my bag as a reflector for macro photography. (if you take an occasional macro photo, put an envelope in your bag the next time you go out. They do not take up any space, but can save you, just like it did for this photo)

Instead of using the envelope as a reflector I pulled it over my flash to soften the light. I put the flash at a 90 degree angle from the camera and started to take some photographs. Than I accidently pointed my camera a bit at the flash and noticed the flare.
I thought it would be cool to make a dramatic photo with flare of a fly looking into the camera. I increased my shutter speed to decrease my ambient exposure to make the photo more dramatic and pointed my camera near the flash with envelope.

Unfortunately the flies would not look into my camera, but when I reviewed my shots on the computer I saw this one looking at the flare.

Thanks for reading,