Hi: Steve:

How are you and how are you doing?  Say hello to your lovely lady for me.  I hope that things are going well for you.  I sure wish that I could get back your direction but it looks like I am heading a different direction this year.  More about that later.  What has been going on with you?

I still haven't gone to a new camera but did pick up a couple new [used] lenses.  I have had some fun with both of them.  I got a AF-s Nikkor 24-120 mm 1:3.5-5.6 G lens and took this shot with it last Thursday in Paso Robles.  I did a little photo shopping on it in that I cloned out a house that was silhouetted in the shot.  I under exposed it so that I could pick up the color.  I kind of like the shot.

 

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I also picked up a Nikon AF Micro Nikkor 60 mm 1:2.8.  I am excited with this one.  I took this one this fall in my back yard. 

 

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Looks like I will be going to Italy and Germany this summer.  The whole family will be going to Italy for 2 1/2 weeks and I will take off for 2 weeks and drive around Germany.  I will also be taking a class in Death Valley in March if I get anything that looks good I will pass it on.

I was out looking at the wolf moon on Friday and tried to take some pictures of it but just couldn't seem to get anything that looked good.  Any suggestions as to how to shoot the moon?  I was using my 24-120  and also a 200 mm zoom that I had.  Tried to underexpose as much as possible but never got the craters on the surface.

I was using a tripod and a remote release.

Mike

 

Hi Mike -

I like that red sky! 

I wish you had asked about the 24-120mm..  It's not the sharpest lens.. and slow to focus.  Slow too.  Canon's 24-105mm is far superior.. Rumor has it that Nikon will be updating the 24-120mm very soon.

Italy and Germany sound great!

Suggestions?  You bet.. :)

You were trying to "underexpose" for the moon.  Keep in mind that how much you underexpose has no limits with a DSLR.  I'm guessing you were either in Program mode or Aperture Priority?  And your metering system was in Dynamic Evaluative?  Which means it was evaluating the entire frame and not just the moon.

Keep in mind that on a typical night the moon will be 5-7 stops brighter than you're average point and shoot or DSLR will meter it IN THE REGULAR METERING MODE where it meters for the entire frame.  This makes it hard, because during our workshop I taught you how to use Ev (exposure compensation) to adjust for such differences, but you can only go 2 stops up or 2 stops down with EV.  Not enough.  So what should you have done?

There are several ways to do this:

    1.  Switch to spot metering.  Spot metering only meters the center 8% of the frame.  You would have got within "Ev range" using spot metering.

    2.  Switch to manual mode vs. aperture priority mode and then you can simply increase your shutter speed for proper exposure.

I attached an example.  It was taken handheld at 200mm (35mm equiv, a 200mm lens on your APC-S sensor camera would be 300mm equiv).  I was sitting outside at a dinner and was a bit bored so I decided to photograph the full moon. 

 

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Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS  F5.6  1/100th  ISO1600

 

The first exposure showed me that the moon was at least 5-7 stops overexposed.  It was also blurry.  What I wanted to do was to adjust my settings so I could get the best quality image, yet still be able to handhold the camera.  This means a shutter speed of no less than 1/100th.  Really it should have been 1/200th but because I practice a lot I can shoot at slower speeds and get well focused images.

So.. In manual metering mode I set in 1/100th for my shutter speed, and I knew my lens was it's sharpest at F8 but still plenty sharp (for moon purposes) at F5.6.  I set the aperture for F5.6.  From there, it was simply a matter of adjusting my ISO for proper exposure.  I tried ISO 200 and the moon was so over exposed you couldn't tell it was a moon.  Then I tried ISO 6400 and it was way underexposed.  ISO 3200 looked better, but ISO 1600 was perfect!

In effect I set my shutter speed by the slowest speed I knew I could hand hold.  Easy.  I then set my aperture at the widest acceptable setting which in this case was F5.6.  From there the only other exposure adjustment was the ISO and I simply adjusted it up/down for proper exposure. 

Fireworks aren't all that much different.. :)  You set the aperture the same way, and the ISO so you'll get proper exposure with a 1-15 second long shutter speed.. and then you choose your shutter speed for "hang time."

I hope this helps Mike.  I find the moon looks good in black and white.. This little moon has been fun to play with.  It's just big enough to layer on a full size image so a moon appears over a subjects head/shoulder for effect.

If I was going to seriously photograph the moon I'd want a telescope adapter, or if using only camera equipment and I wanted the biggest possible moon in the frame.. I'd set up my longest lens on a tripod and use the same technique I described.

Btw -  Someone at the party was watching me and made the comment "you need an expensive camera to do that.."  I asked to hold their $100 point and shoot he'd been using all night.  I ran the lens out to maximum zoom, put it in manual mode, and already knowing the exposure settings from my DSLR I fed them in and in one shot he had a great moon shot on his $100 point and shoot.  It's not about the gear, it's about using the gear you have to it's maximum..

Take care Mike

Steve

 

Hi Steve,

I decided to upgrade my camera and lenses, and now am the proud owner of a Nikon D700 and a 24-70mm 2.8 lens. As well as the 50mm 1.4 G lens.

Starting to get the hang of it all, but am using the tripod around the home as the camera lens flash combo gets quite heavy!

I've a submission in the pipeline, but only with pics from the old camera. My Thai brother in law bought a boat to do tourist trips around the klongs of Bangkok, and am keen to get him to perhaps specialise in a photography tour around Loy Krathong time.

Anyway, hope all is well in BKK....things are sweet over here in Oz.

Cheers

Rick

 

Hi Rick -

I busted out laughing at your self portrait!  Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

The Nikon D700 is a fine camera and that 24-70 is a jewel ideally suited towards your needs.  You'll do great with it.  Remember the formula for DOF? (depth of field?) The bigger sensor and F2.8 lens will make it much easier for you to create that nice pleasing blur in the background.  Did you tell people in Australia about me?  So far I have seven workshops scheduled for Feb.. all Australians!  They must think I speak the language.. :)

Seriously, Aussies are in my favorite bunch.. reasonable and a good sense of humor.

I'll look for your submission.  Remember, if you have any questions please ask.  I'm more than happy to answer any questions floating around in your head..

Take care

Steve

 

Hi Steve,

Good to hear you are getting a few Aussies through...wonder if they drink a lot of beer as most Aussies seem to do.

Oh...I do have a quick question for you!

One of my wife's' friends here always has a shiny face/forehead in any photo I take of her.

Any way to simply get rid of the sheen?

I have attached a small photo I took today, and she isn't too shiny in it but it gives you an idea.

Rick

 

I also took a pic at 24mm of some of the wife's' friends on the new lens, but one girl at the edge of the frame seemed to be distorted......I'll attach a pic to see if it's my imagination or perhaps I have to frame the photo better!

See what you think if you have the time.

Thanks...happy Australia day!

 

Hi Rick -

There is no 'easy' way to get rid of the sheen in post processing.  There are some more complicated retouching steps you could do, but I don't think you'd find the results worth the time involved.

The trick is to not get the sheen in the first place.  This lady obviously has either oily skin, or she puts some sort of treatment on her skin, which produces the shine.  Any direct light (as from your flash) will make it shine in a huge way.  Try either diffused or bounce flash when photographing her.  Anything that makes the light softer.  TO make the light softer you want to make it less centralized, like from an umbrella rather than a flash on your camera.  Did you try the stofen box your flash came with?  The stofen and bouncing together should work fine for you.

And yes.. distortion at wide angles is very common and to be expected.  Your defense to this is to know why it happens, and when it will happen, and then compose around it.  This is the sort of stuff we concentrate on during a wide-angle workshop.. there's a lot to cover.

With wide angles and people, you want the camera to be level, and directly aimed at the subject.  Subjects off to the sides will always appear distorted.  The closer you are, the more the effect.  I'll use wide angles for people when in larger groups, or to use the distortion effects for advantage, otherwise I stay away from them.  Your zoom is nice, but there will be times when moving back a few paces with your feet has no substitute.

Try shooting your 24-70 from 40-70 when you're shooting people.

Steve

 

Steve -

Evening.....

Yes, that lady has an oily face alright!

I did have the diffuser on the flash and it *was* bouncing off the ceiling but I think  needed more angle on the flash.....which means I should really take more time to compose photos.

Now I know some of the characteristics of the lens I can set up the photos better.

I'm learnin' dammit.......

Thanks for your reply!

Rick

 

Rick -

For such people I often use a diffusion panel to soften the light even further.  It's a collapsible disc of sorts.. You pull it from it's bag, snap it open, shoot your light through it.. and presto chango.. it's fixed.

But you could do almost as good by getting your flash off the hot shoe and out of alignment to your lens.

Do you have the off-camera hot shoe cord?  This has one end that your flash slides into, another end that slides into your hot shoe, and a coil telephone type cord between the two.  Using this cord (I think it comes in 1-2 meter lengths) you can hold the flash out by hand, put your flash on a stand/pod, or even buy a decent flash bracket and this cord will allow you to mount your flash off to the side of the lens axis.

One more thing.. I forgot to tell you.. Check out the Nikon Ah4 leather hand grip strap.  It will make carrying around that beast with its' heavy lens a lot more enjoyable.  Nikon makes he best grip straps ever, I use them on all my Canon's.. ;o)

Steve

Please submit your questions to QandA@Bkkimages.com  All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.