29 Sep 2012

After my first Dutch Photo Walk - technicalities

Previously I have shared some thoughts about my participation in the Dutch City Walk. In this post I would like to share some technical aspects of the event. Note that most of my observations refer to the other topics, like "Street photography", "Shooting people", "Post processing".

Before

Check the proposed route in advance. It will help you to identify the potentially interesting spots and to pre-visualize the route.
Check the weather forecast. There is a couple of hours walking and you need to feel comfortable, without hassle of too cold, or too warm clothing. And, if it is going to rain, don't forget to take a proper stuff for protecting your gear. What I take with me is a rain sleeve, a small towel and a lens cleaning cloth. 
Obviously, take enough memory cards and fully loaded batteries.
More tough questions to answer are: which lens (or lenses) to take, to take or not a tripod. Before the photowalk I wasn't sure so I have asked other co-walkers. So learn from each other.
Finally I took the 24-70/2.8 lens (which, by the way, became my workhorse) and as a reserve a 18-200/3.6-5.6 lens. I didn't take a tripod because the interesting indoor places (like churches) were either in renovation or closed.

During

Personally I like to work lately with a predefined theme (and for this photowalk it was Delftware.
So the pictures like these were taken:

But in practice it is a walk and interacting with other people. So the photographic theme evolved during the walk. And it is a city, so I got inspired by a lot of interesting stuff:


My advice is also to look every now and there what other co-walkers are doing. You can learn a lot, and sometimes take interesting shot of them:

On the technical side: I tried to keep the camera settings as simple as possible and as universal as possible. Each moment something interesting can happen and I didn't want to ruin my photo just by having wrong settings. Here's what worked for me: the camera in the Aperture mode with auto-adjust ISO settings and with the second command dial button set for exposition compensation.
Every now and then I have switched the bracketing on, but kept it very simple (just 3 shots, under-, normal-, and over-) exposed with the F-stop distance between them set to 1. One important note,
I learned to switch bracketing mode off practically after each shot taken. For very simple reason: I wanted to be prepared for the next shot, starting from the stable set of settings. Forgetting to switch off bracketing can cost you unexpected under- and overexposed images.

So I kept the camera settings actually quite basic and simple and was able to focus more on the composition of my photos and on looking for the interesting places.

After

Generally first thing that I wanted after the event was to share the photos with the rest of the group and see what other did. And because group was so enthusiastic about the photography, first results were published the same evening. Discussions about the photos started, +1 on G+ were given.
For me it was important to see how others see the same places I saw through their camera. Again: a great learning moment.

23 Sep 2012

After my first Dutch Photo Walk

Today I have participated for the first time in a Dutch Photo Walk event, organized by +Nikola Nikolski. It was a very nice day. A group of 18 people walking through the Dutch city Delft taking pictures and looking for a composition for the main theme, which was "Delftware" (or, in Dutch: Delfts blauw).
Since a city walk was for my a new photographic activity, let me share some thoughts of 'a newcomer'.
First of all, take part of it if you have a possibility! You will meet other people sharing your passion (photography) and will be able to learn from each other. The last one is a funny part of the experience: I have learned a lot just by watching what and how people take their shots. Suddenly I have noticed today many interesting subjects on the way that I probably would skip if I were alone. And by having conversations with the co-walkers I got some insights in their approach to photography.
More on some technical aspects in later post, now I want to work on the photos from the walk.

16 Sep 2012

D800E - autofocus issue: confirmed after the tests

As mentioned in previous post, I suspected that my D800E might have an autofocus issue when using autofocus points located at the left side of the viewfinder. I have decided then to perform more thorough test to see if the issue is real. I can say that there is a problem with my camera (left focus points don't work well, but on the right side the results are not so great as well). If one is interested in the technicalities of the test, read on.
The test I have conducted is based on the setup as described by Nasim Mansurov on his blog here and here.
It is pointless to repeat the test procedure in my post. So let me point out just a few aspects I have gone through when testing my camera:

Test approaching the autofocus point from both sides (low and high distances)

It means that for a given focus point I did two tests. I made the exposure initially unsharp by setting the lowest available distance for the given lens. So I turned the lens focus ring manually to the lowest possible distance and did the test. Then I turned the focus ring to infinity and redo the test again.
Why is it important? It turned that for both lenses I have tested, my D800E performs better when setting autofocus starting from low distances. When the exposure distance of a lens was set up to infinity, the autofocus performance was much worse (i.e. the autofocus didn't work). 
So by taking only one side one might not notice the problem.


Speed up the test by using tethered mode

I have connected my camera to the laptop and to 40'' TV set to see the results in a big format. Tethered mode for D800 is available in Adobe Lightroom 4.2. It is not officially released yet, but the release candidate version works pretty nice.  Having the results immediately on the big screen speeds up the procedure

So, what's next?

I have contacted Nikon Netherlands and they are aware of the issue (as a matter of fact they expect quite some more calls with respect to the issue). They claim to be able to fix it in one week. Let's see.